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. 


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?

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. 

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.

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. 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.

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.

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