The day I realized I was gridding it

On Tuesday Vicky agreed to meet for a hike. We both had peaks to bag in January but we agreed on Whiteface Passaconaway. We didn’t discuss route or anything significant other than I wanted to run/hike. Vicky wanted clarification on shoe/boot type. We both wore boots and spikes. While I had visions of a bit of running it – ha – wishful thinking as always: it was a hike.

However, in the parking lot I told her I wanted to do the counterclockwise route since the granite ledges on the approach to Whiteface on Blueberry Ledge induces anxiety for me going up. Last year I did the loop counter clockwise and it was so much better going down the ledges than going up. I wanted to repeat what worked. Vicky is the most laid back, open for anything hiker friend I know. She didn’t care what route – she needed a long hike. Although I will note that three hikers who passed near the real summit of Whiteface as we headed to the ledges seemed worried for us. 

But let’s start from the beginning.

Great weather, clear skies and no wind. Dicey’s Mill to Passaconaway has a bunch of steep parts but doable. Spikes were clearly the best choice. We get to the “boring” summit (sorry but it is), but the views between trees showed us Mount Washington in its glory.

Back to Rollins Trail and the ridge.

It is on this amazing ridge where I realized that I was gridding. Where I knew I was In. I am gridding. I knew these trails. I knew where I was going. I knew this ridge. I knew where the true summit was. 

This may be the heart of why we want to know things so intimately. We know the familiarity that brings clarity. In the wilderness, things can change on a dime but yet we know trail junctions (and celebrate them) and can anticipate ledges or difficult river crossings. You know this place so well; and that is why I’m gridding because I love knowing a trail or route because I figured it out. I looked at the map and I hiked/ran/walked it over and over. I figured it out. I got oriented to this place.

Now, I know, I’m so gridding it. Every 4,000 footer in New Hampshire, in every month. Hells Ya. I say. 

This Passaconaway-Whiteface Loop is glorious. We saw two cute dogs; the one with a bell that warned us of his presence and number two had the cutest ears. Spikes were the wrong choice when we got to the ridge; soft snow. We should’ve brought our snowshoes.

While we wished for our snowshoes but wondered: would we have put them on if we had them since it was “yeah spikes” more then “we wished we had snowshoes”. I know – it’s a dilemma. So much energy to put them on. 

Vicky

We got to the place on Whiteface where I knew it was going to be tough. Vicky is fearless. She is taking in the views of the Presidentials and grabbing photos. I’m like, “Hey Vicky, I’m going to keep going.” I start the “bad part” and it isn’t really bad, yet. And I can’t remember which is the very hard part because I think there are three sections that are hard.

“Is this the bad part?” I ask Vicky.

“No, it’s coming up,” she said. 

We go past the crevasse and it’s okay. 

“Was this the bad part?” I ask Vicky.

“No, it’s coming up,” she said. 

We get to a part where I butt slide a bit and jump; but it’s not super hard. 

“Is this the bad part?” I ask VIcky.

“Yes, that was it,” she said. 

“Wow, that was easy,” I said.

And just like that, the bad part is over. I estimate it’s about 1% of the hike. Blueberry Ledge Trail was perfection. 

I’m gridding it. I have the best hiking partners. That is all.

Whiteface looking south. Can you see Gunstock in the distance?

Goals, Joy and Training

Now that I have finished my 4,000 in a year now it’s time to 

  1. Finish my grid (this will take years)
  2. Start training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene
  3. Finish a 100 mile trail run
  4. Ski – a lot

I’ve been following the 100 mile training plan so far. My watch tells me my training status is Productive – so that makes me happy.

Swimming has been difficult since the lanes at the Y fill up by 5:05 a.m. Biking is difficult because it’s cold however mountain biking is still possible. 

I mountain biked at Bear Brook this past weekend and since I was hiking every weekend my biking legs were a little ….. Under trained, let’s say. Sonja and Jay are so fun to bike with.

I’m considering a fat bike but haven’t looked into if I actually can find one. That could be fun.

However, I’m pretty psyched to ski. Gunstock is making snow this week and we are hopeful for a December 4 opening day. This is going to be so fun. 

These are the skis I’m considering. Aren’t they pretty and their name: Joy

https://www.head.com/en_US/sports/ski/joy

Everyone should have Joy in their life.

Hiking Moosilauke via Benton Trail in November

Two weeks ago this trail looked a little different than Saturday. I attempted Moosilauke with my dogs on the Benton trail on October 18, the day after the big snow storm, and couldn’t find a good river crossing spot with the high water running, so I turned around. 

Saturday the water was much lower and I was able to cross the river and hike to the peak.

It was a good day to be in the mountains.

Tunnel Brook trail was a nice gradual walk to the Benton Trailhead. Once we crossed the river the climb began. No big boulders and no granite slabs – it was just a nice hike. 

As we arrived at the Beaver Brook trail two families with young children came up the trail. I know that trail and it’s a tough one – good for them! We hiked for .4 and came out of the woods with a short hike above the treeline to a crowded summit. 

On Moosilauke trying to get out of the wind for a break.

As I took my phone off airplane mode I got a text message from the New York Times: Joe Biden is our 46th President. I yelled to everyone on the top the great news.

It was so windy only the people closest to us heard and cheered too. 

I could see the Kinsmans in the distance knowing I would be up there the next day. And then we headed down. We only saw one other person heading up. 

Termed the quiet side of the Moose, I opted for the Benton trail since it is the easiest trail for dogs and it turned out to be both quiet and gentle. Just shy of 10 miles, it was a great hike option. Saturday wasn’t as warm at 4,802 feet than most parts of New Hampshire however Peter wore shorts and I wore regular hiking leggings.

The dogs had a great time but are definitely tired today, Sunday. Goldies 7th 4,000 footer, and Winnie’s 20th. Now it’s on to the Kinsmans today and to accomplish my goal of 48 in my 49th year.

Hiking the Tripyramids in November

Let’s get right to it and talk about how hard the Tripyramids are if you opt for the Mount Tripyramid Loop. 

Wind.
Snow.
Ice.
A slide.
Then another slide.

I’m happy to have made it through on Sunday.

We saw a few people on the Livermore Road and no one else until the second summit. Now I know why: only crazy people would hike that loop with the conditions we had on Sunday. 

The slide was long – a hundred miles – or so it seemed. Foot placement was questionable at every step.

About halfway up the North Slide, I saw footprints going off to the left, out of the wind and ice, I took it. My hiking partner chose to go right up the slide. 

After what seemed like a lifetime, the slide ended, we were out of the wind and back into the safety of the trees. Life was good again. 

Then as we got to Middle Tripyramid we saw our first hiker. All four of us were happy to see humans. 

We continued on the loop in bliss that the remainder would be fun and delightful.

We both envisioned laughter and happiness and storytelling. Then the South Slide became steeper and longer. 

Miraculously, the wind died down, the views opened up and we were off the slide, back in the woods and then shortly, a dirt path.

The 4,000 footers are no joke these days. Mid-Winter Conditions. I say. 

Be prepared. Turn back if you feel uncomfortable and unprepared.

If it wasn’t for the fact that we were prepared, we were in great physical shape, we had food and water, we had the 10 Essentials, I would not have continued. 

Be safe out there friends. Don’t take chances. Love the one you’re with LOL. 

Three more peaks until I reach my only reachable goal in 2020. Damn you Kinsmans. Please don’t be the death of me.

Owl’s Head NH in pictures

Two big water crossings. Some chose to take off their running shoes. Some did not. I charged right through.
This is the view from the slide. So pretty. The slide was hard, as per usual.
Once above the slide it was a winter wonderland. So pretty. So flat.
We enjoyed the slide much more coming down.
We took a few more pictures on the way down.

It was a good day to be in the White Mountains. We took the Black Pond bushwack to Lincoln Brook Trails and still had two big water crossings. They sucked with all the rain and snow. However, as I charged through them four times my feet stayed happy. (Thank you Altra Lone Peak and Darn Tough Socks). I even had a sock change in my pack and opted to stay wet. I liked the garbage bag that a hiking couple used to cross the rivers. I may steal that idea in the spring.

The slides are always tough. There were a few icy patches but not enough to put on spikes. We saw about eight people all day (not counting the hikers on the way back through Lincoln Woods).

I say it all the time – but it matters who you hike with. Vicky and Michaela were the best hiking partners. We laughed and talked and shared stories all day long. I’m not embarrassed to admit that we talked about Ross all day long. Ross hiked Owl’s Head with me last year so I could finish all my 4,000 footers. He also invited me to all the best long distance hikes since that day. He invited me to the Pemi Traverse where I met Vicky. Then I met all their hiking crazy friends. It truly is a community you find by hiking the 4,000 footers in New Hampshire. Follow the fun ones on Facebook and Instagram and message them; they will invite you into their world.

Today we created so many memories; funny stories I know that will get passed on because even in the last year we told so many stories. Vicky asked me to throw a big rock into the river so she could use it to get across. I did as requested and that will forever be a funny story of the look on her face when she was soaked by cold water and couldn’t move. Famous last words: It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I hope you are reading this and reach out to me or people you follow on social. If you want to hike crazy long trails and finish stupid lists that award patches – just do it. Go do epic shit. I fail a lot but I also have great days like today. Days that make you check off boxes, eat big meals and blog about how great life is sometimes.

Go hike a mountain or 48 of them in one year or take a risk to message someone that may just make your life great. I highly recommend it.

Five more peaks in my 49th year. I just may do this.