Field and Willey Hike in October

For the first time in a very long time before a big hike, I slept in. I didn’t get to the trailhead until almost 10 a.m. It was perfect timing because it was a cold morning. 31 degrees according to my watch. 

As I hiked up the Avalon Trail I heard water everywhere. So many waterfalls and streams. A few others started right before and after me. The climb starts just after the first half mile and then the turn off to Mount Avalon has a lot of granite slabs. At first there they were just wet and a little slippery and then became icy and slippery. 

The icy granite faded away and there was just a great dirt trail. I headed into the snowy trees toward Mount Field and passed up Mount Avalon, which everyone said had great views. Some times when I’m hiking solo I get a bit nervous and just want to get to the summit. That was today. I brought micro spikes and hiking poles since I didn’t know what to expect. 

I passed a few hikers heading down and they said microspikes weren’t needed so it made me feel better. As we approached Field there were some great views between the trees and once I got to the summit. The sun came out and just lit up the iced trees. Truly spectacular. 

I continued onto Willey on the Willey Range trail. It was a ridge that went up and down with some steep climbs ups and down but didn’t last long. I almost missed the turn off to Willey when I started to hike down. Thank goodness for the GPS map on my Garmin. That was the summit, looked around and headed back. 

The slabs were still icy on Avalon as we headed down to Crawford Notch and the Conway Scenic Railroad train was stopped at the Depot. I’ve never seen that before. 

We headed home and got back to Concord by 4 p.m. It was a good weekend of hiking in the White Mountains. Six more peaks to go to hit my goal of finishing the 4,000 footers in my 49 year. 

Kinsmans, Tripyramids, Moosilauke and Owl’s Head are all that are left. Two more weekends to get them done. I think it will happen.

Mount Cabot Hike in the rain

I hiked Mount Cabot from the Bunnell Notch trail with Peter and the dogs. At the trailhead it was perfect temps around 40s. I had hiked this at this time last year with Winnie and remembered the long drive to Berlin – 2 ½ hours. Ugh. And didn’t realize until after I got home that I hiked it already in October so I couldn’t use it for my grid. Bummer

I love this trail. It’s such a nice, gradual hike that at the beginning you can see where you will end up. It’s very wooded which was good since the mist and rain started at the Kilkenny Ridge trailhead. Last year there was not much standing water and this year there was plenty of water for the dogs and I didn’t have to worry about it. Muddy, too.

Peter on the summit

The summit is an open area with no view but even if there were we were socked in. It rained pretty hard once we got there and for the first two miles back. It was good to test out all the gear to make sure it kept me warm as we head into winter. 

I do love this hike I just wish it wasn’t so far away. The dogs did great and we didn’t see any dogs. For a Saturday there weren’t too many people on the trail; we maybe saw 10.

It was great hiking with Peter who is on a 4,000 footer kick. We didn’t even take breaks – just hiked the entire time. It’s always a good time to hike with fun, entertaining friends.

I stayed overnight in Gorham and tomorrow is Field and Willey.

This is my life

Today was one of the days when I stepped back and said: wow, this is my life. 

And yesterday and the day before – wow, this is my life.

Is it perfect, the way I thought my life would always be? Hell no. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be where I am today.

As I’m driving south from Gilford at 9 p.m. in thick fog, I’m anxious about getting home and letting my dogs out. 

I seem to feel more anxious and scared about so many things: life, work, dogs, hiking, training, reaching goals. 

But then the same things make me so happy: life, work, dogs, hiking, training, reaching goals.

Weird. 

All I’m saying is life is funny. It gives you everything you want, takes away everything you want and all that is left is you, on your sofa, writing your blog post, eating salad, drinking wine and glad your dogs are right next to you. 

Wildcat Carter Moriah Traverse October 2020

An epic day in the White Mountains. 18 miles and 7,690 feet of elevation gain.

Our day started with Wildcat E and concluded with Mount Moriah. The peaks included:

Wildcats A, B, C, D, and E. Carter Dome, Hight, South Carter, Middle Carter, North Carter, Mount Moriah. 6 4,000 footers DONE.

The day started with a car spot and we left Pinkham Notch for Wildcat E about 8:30 a.m. We took Lost Pond Trail to Wildcat Ridge. The last time I hiked on this ridge was with my dad after a 2-day backpack in June of 1989. We had started our hike at Imp Trail and ended on Wildcat Ridge with a highway walk back to the car. I was glad that today, Ross decided to start with the Wildcats instead of end with them; and to have a car spot! 

The ridge is tough. So much climbing but I got in a zone and it was okay.

Vicky on the steeps – Wildcat Ridge

Miraculously we got through all the peaks. It was so steep and rugged. 

The highlight of this section was a rest after descending to Carter Notch. At Carter Lake we got out of the wind and soaked up the sun for a bit of a rest. The Wildcats were steep and slow. And while we didn’t have a time expectation we just knew it was going to be 18 miles and at this point we were only 4 or 5 miles in. It was going to be a long day. 

However, the weather was perfect. It never got too hot or too cold. The wind was whipping at many points along the trail but then we would get deep in the woods with no wind. 

Trail sign at Carter Lake

As we ascended Carter Dome I got into a hiking zone and we tried to make up some time.  We opted for Mount Hight and the view was the best of the day. We could see where we came from and where we had left to go. 

We hit all three Carters and were ready to be done with them so we kept moving. 

Coming down North Carter was a bitch. There I said it. I don’t want to do this trail ever again. Endless on-your-butt downhill. But we could see where we were going which included Imp and Moriah. 

We hit Mount Moriah’s southern ledges as the sun began to set and at the summit we took amazing pictures of the sun setting over the Presidentials. The Presidentials were looming all day with not a cloud in sight. 

Mount Moriah summit looking west.

We wore headlamps all the way down via Stony Brook and were thankful for the ease of the descent back to the car. It was very warm on the hike down. The wind was warm and we hiked through warm spots. It felt humid. So strange. 

We exited the trail at 9:30 p.m. to a clear sky with so many stars. After a long day like this I was thankful everyone stayed safe and healthy. We all got home, albeit very late. I got home to Concord at 11:00 pm and Vicky and Ross after midnight. 

The Wildcat Carter Moriah traverse seemed much harder than the Pemi Loop and Presidential Traverse. I feel like all the lessons learned from these longer hikes such as not carrying enough food or not having enough water were all corrected in my preparation for this day. All day long we went up and down, and repeated nearly a hundred times. Despite inconsistency in my training days the last few months I feel like I did well on this traverse. However, I don’t feel like I need to do it again anytime soon. It was an epic day on rocky terrain with wonderful hiking partners.

Highlights:

Following the Appalachian Trail
Remembering parts of this hike with my dad from 1989
Great hiking partners
Having enough food and water
The sunset on Moriah

Mount Isolation via Rocky Branch Trail

Vicky agreed to hike with me to bag Isolation. I knew it was going to be a long day: two hour drive each way and a long 14 mile hike – so I brought the dogs. The best trail for dogs was the Rocky Branch Trail and it proved to be a good one. 

Photo by Vicky.

I read a trail report from a week ago that said there was very little mud and the hiker reported dry feet the entire way. Well, it rained quite a bit since that report and the trail was filled with water and mud – but I loved it; so did the dogs. 

Goldie

As we entered the Dry River Wilderness I really liked that the dogs had water for 80% of the hike. The river crossings were rock hop-able. What I liked most about this trail were the parts that weren’t muddy and wet – the trail was spectacular for the ease of hiking and beautiful birch trees. When the sun hit the trees in the just the right way the fall colors were amazing. 

I love it when I can declare out loud several times while hiking: I love this trail. It didn’t seem like too much of an effort especially after the first two miles of climbing. There seemed to be some recent trail work and only one blow down that was hard to get under. 

We didn’t see many people until we hit the Davis Path and got closer to the spur to Isolation – then the people arrived. As we got to the summit it seemed like suddenly there were 20 people on the summit – crazy. We didn’t stay long. The views west to the Crawford Path and the Presidentals were clear as can be. Just a week ago I was over there looking to Isolation where I knew I would be today. 

Vicky got to feed some Grey Jays which she was thrilled with!  Goldie tried to eat them.

On the way down I did get my feet tangled in roots, falling almost down to the river – good save Vicky. Other than that Goldie tried to climb a tree to get to a chipmunk and ate a mouse. We all made it home safe and sound despite the southbound traffic on 93. 

The foliage is peaking in northern New Hampshire. 

15 peaks to go to finish the list!