Normally I like to hike to get away from people, but when you hike Monadnock at the peak of fall foliage there is no expectation of solitude. The people watching is almost as good as the leaf peeping.
I hiked up the Dublin Trail and made pretty good time. The last time I took this trail I was barefoot, but today I wore trail runners. I’ve noticed that in general, the people who use the Dublin Trail are a little more prepared for hiking than the people you might see on the White Dot Trail.
The views were a bit hazy but still pretty today, the clouds even started to sprinkle down rain on a few occasions, but nothing substantial enough to need a rain coat. The summit was pretty busy so I didn’t stay for long. Just long enough to snap a selfie of my 82nd summit of Monadnock. Apparently my brain forgot to tell my face that I was happy to be at the top.
This has been “The summer that never was” for me and the outdoors. Between multiple sports injuries and added responsibilities I have not gotten out much. After a lot of rest and a lot of Physical Therapy I am finally ready to start getting active again. Chad had asked me about going for a hike a few weeks back, Chad had not hiked any of the NH 4000 footers yet, and my favorite mountain to take people up for there first of the NH 48 is Osceola. This was my 6th time up Osceola but fortunately I had not gone in August yet so I was able to fill in 2 cells on my Grid with this hike because we ended up bagging East Osceola too. Chad did great with his hike and I was happy that I didn’t re-injure my Achilles or my knee. When we got to the top Chad took a panoramic shot. I got in it twice by running around behind him as he panned
Views were great. A little hazy, but still beautiful
Things were going good at the top so we decided to add an excursion to the East Peak out and back. The East Peak lacks the beauty of the Main Peak but it counts the same on the list.
The climb through the chimney is always fun.
After Summiting the East Peak for Chad’s 2nd New Hampshire 4000 footer we backtracked over the main summit and headed down. Only 46 more to go for Chad’s List!
I was unable to run The Goffstown Gallop this year. This is my favorite race of all the races I run primarily because it goes right by my house, and secondly it is the course I train on the most, so I kind of feel like its my home field. I couldn’t run this year due to injuring my knee and tearing the meniscus while forgetting that I’m 40 now and jumping on my son’s trampoline. The recovery has been slow and mornings are really painful. Usually it takes until about 9AM before my knee loosens up to move freely.
I had my race application filled out and on the counter in case miraculously my knee got better overnight, but I had no such luck. I’m normally completely fine just pushing through pain as long as I’m not doing more damage so I woke up Saturday and took a little jog to see if I should just go for it, but I could not get it to loosen up and I could not convince myself that I wasn’t going to set my recovery back another month if I ran the 5.2 miles. I was especially concerned about the damage I might do on the long downhill part of the run coming back in to town.
So since I couldn’t run, I went out on the course and took pictures and cheered the runners on.
There are over 100 pictures of the race and runners in the attached link to Flickr. If there’s a picture of you that you like feel free to take an electronic copy Flickr allows you to download any size. If there’s a picture of you in this public album that you don’t like and would like removed please let me know and I will take it down.
I headed up north on Friday for my annual late April pilgrimage to Tuckerman Ravine. Although it has been a very lean snow year in New Hampshire and Tuckerman Ravine was less filled in than usual, the colder than normal April has sustained the snow that we did have and even added a little more. Last Tuesday we had received several inches of snow in northern New Hampshire and additionally some of that snow had been transported by the northwest winds into Left Gully. Left Gully was skiable from the top of the head wall to the ravine exit.
On the way up, consistent snow cover began at the last crossover to the Sherburne Trail on the hiking trail. Since I knew I would be carrying my board for most of the trip I took along my resort board and boots instead of my backcountry splitboard setup. I love the performance of my real board so much better than my splitboard.
There were very few tracks yet as I ascended the gully. As the sun warmed the snow it got softer and softer as I climbed. The unconsolidated top layer was tough to climb with my soft boots on because it just wanted to slough away on the harder bed surface below when I put my weight on it. Even with microspikes on it was tough to get traction. I was wishing I had worn hard boots to kick steps. It wasn’t avalanche type slab but very sloughy slab. Even on the descent I had to be careful not to sideslip too much because it would just set off huge sloughs of wet snow and I wanted to preserve the surface for others as best I could. I took a couple runs and then headed home to enjoy the rest of the day with my family.
The Ravine with Left Gully looking like the best option
I was able to go for a little hike outside the city limits in an area of Driftwood on Onion Creek. This was actually in a restricted area that I was permitted to be in. A few pictures of the prairie and creek I enjoyed.:
Lots of cactus, and apparently this is what their oak trees look like:
I got out for a little ski today. I’ve been out snowboarding several times this year but this was the first time this season I put skis on. We had about 2 inches of ice as a base on the local mountain in the spots where the snow had made it through the trees on Saturday. But for most of the mountain there was less than an inch of crusty snow covering the rocks and roots before last nights storm. This morning we woke up to 3 inches of pretty fluffy powder and strong winds. I hiked up the local mountain as high as there was still snow and the wind had not scoured it away. I didn’t want to totally destroy my AT skis, so I used a pair of skis I found at the dump last year. As I clipped in I realized I had adjusted the bindings on these beater “rock skis” to my other boots last spring. The bindings were barely gripping. I probably had a DIN of about 3 as I knocked the skis against a nearby tree to see how well they would stay on.
Happily they stayed on all the way down as I tried be as light on my feet as possible for the survival turns in the dust on crust. About half way through the video you can see I hit an area where the wind had deposited a little more snow and it was actually pretty fun for a few turns. I kind of love these kinds of crappy little sessions even though they are not ideal they are exciting and memorable. Emily bought me a new GoPro for our 20th anniversary last fall and this was the first time I got a chance to try out the helmet cam, so I made a little video https://youtu.be/2VAsdkc7S_Y
Hunting season ended a half hour past sunset December 15th at 4:41PM with me in my climbing tree stand 30 feet up in the below pictured hickory tree with an unfilled tag. No Deer harvested after a 4 month long archery season in the woods. However I did have several opportunities and many beautiful wildlife sightings this year. It seems every time I go out in the woods I see something or experience something that makes the time spent totally worth it.
View from up in the climber:
I have two tree stands, one that is fixed and one that is portable and can climb trees. My fixed stand was on a Beech Tree 18 feet high.
Exciting experiences included having a bear walk by my fixed tree stand without noticing me, and having to walk by a Bull Moose in full rut mode while exiting the woods. Another experience I had was with a certain buck that I had been keeping track of and had seen on my game camera. Below is a video of him and a lesser buck. (Both are beautiful Deer) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0ss0fJJlfM
I tried to focus a lot this year on being more aware of signs of domain establishment and the section of woods I was primarily hunting for the above deer had scrape marks on pretty much every tree. One day in mid-November I had stuck my climber on a tree in the middle of a bunch of recent sign and decided to come back the next day. The next day I walked into my tree stand from the opposite direction as originally planned because the wind was blowing in the opposite direction as usual and I didn’t want my scent to proceed me. As I approached I came over a little rise and found 4 deer standing in a semi-circle facing me, 3 were does and one was the buck I had been looking for. Before I could process which one was the buck and draw back my bow, all 4 deer took off through the woods at mock speed.
The next day it was pouring rain so I decided to revisit the area. As I approached the same area I looked on the ground and nearby an area that had been disturbed I found an antler that had been torn off during a fight. I took it home with me but never saw the deer in that area again.
I learned quite a bit more this year about whitetail behavior and patterns and have developed quite a lot of respect for just how adaptable and elusive they can be when they are aware of you as a predator. As a hiker I see deer quite frequently and have noticed that they seem to be much more comfortable with me while just passing through than when I’m out hunting.
Remarkably this hunting season was very warm with no snow fall. Many times it was actually warm enough to not even wear gloves. I’m not sure how much this affected the patterns of the deer but it sure seemed that they would only come out after dark on the warm days. I ran my camera a few times near my stand and sure enough my favorite buck would come marching by at 6:30pm every night, 2 hours past legal hunting time.
Another lesson learned this year was how much more respect I have for someone who can get a deer with an arrow than someone with a gun. With archery so many more things have to come together just right in order to take a proper shot. My primary reason for hunting is for meat, and really I would have been happy to have just stocked my freezer at some point this year with either a gun or an arrow, but after this year I realize that I really do love archery way more than firearms and that it’s so much more of an accomplishment to harvest a deer that way. And preparing for next year this is where I will focus my efforts.
I will also begin scouting earlier and as this mild winter continues I will take advantage of the lack of snow to explore more sections of forest nearby to be ready for next September 15th. Scouting is becoming one of my favorite hobbies. I like scouting in a way more than hunting because I never carry a weapon for self-defense, for one it’s much more exciting to be out in the woods on the animals turf on their terms when you don’t have a weapon and secondly I think you carry yourself in a different manner when armed even if your not hunting, and you give off less of a predatory vibe that the animals can sense when unarmed, but primarily I like it because without a weapon it becomes more like being a hiker, but without trails, and hiking is still my favorite way to enjoy the outdoors.
Yesterday was Columbus Day and I hiked Mt Monadnock for my 81st time. I hiked up the Dublin Trail because I figured it would be less busy being a holiday. It was absolutely beautiful, the weather was warm for Mid-October and the tree’s leaves were in various states of turning red and yellow. The views were very colorful. I took a pair of trail runners with me in case I needed them but was able to stay barefoot for the entire hike. The Dublin trail has a low amount of gravel sections which tend to cut holes in my calluses, so it was probably the best way up to choose to go barefoot.
As I packed my backpack for an overnighter on Moosilauke I thought to myself, wow you don’t need much stuff for summer backpacking. Its been a while since I did an overnighter that I wasn’t carrying winter gear, or winter gear plus backcountry skiing gear. I got so caught up in doing big mileage days that I just pack light for, that its been a while since I just took a day to enjoy a mountain and spend the night in its woods.
I took my time getting out the door friday morning and got up to the trailhead for Beaver Brook at about 10:30 friday morning. I hiked up to the shelter and dropped off my pad and sleeping bag. There were a couple of north bound thru hikers hanging out and a southbounder who had spent the night there. I ended up talking with them for a bit before heading off to the summit. On the way up to the summit I heard someone ask me “ hey, are you Jan?” as I passed by. It was Rodney, a highschool clasmate from 20 years ago, he and his two sons were out for a hike. I hung out with Rod for a little bit before heading to the top. I hung out on the top for quite a while, the views were absolutely amazing, the weather was warm and there was no wind. It was fun to be there on such a nice day and watch thruhikers reach the top and get their first real view of The Whites, none of them were dissapointed with the view of friday.
Beaver Brook Trail
As I left the summit I experienced a little natural phenomenon that was really cool. Even though there was no wind I could here the grass blowing really loud, I looked off the side of the trail and about 50 feet away there was spot about 20 feet in diameter that there was a mini twister going on. I walked over to it, and I stepped into it. The winds instantly felt like they were in the 40mph range, I was able step out of it and watch it slowly move away. I now wish I had thought to video it, I could have sent it to Ginger Zee
I hiked down to the shelter and took it easy for the rest of the day and did some reading. To my surprise no one else showed up and the only company I had for the night was a little brown mouse. Everytime I saw him I would quote the Gruffalo and say “Where are you going to little brown mouse?”
Beaver Brook Shelter
“Where are you going to, little brown mouse?
Come for a feast in my logpile house.”
With no wind being alone in the woods get a little creepy, but also beautiful because you can hear every little twig break and every little animal scurry. The night never got as cold as was forecasted which was a little unfortunate because the mosquitos never went away, in fact they got worse to the point that at about 3AM I got sick of being bit and packed up. I headed down in the dark, and then slept in the back of my car until 6:30. Then I went to Pegs for Breakfast.
But before I left Kinsman Notch I took a little stroll over to the beaver pond to see if there was any wildlife around, unfortunately the only wildlife was a group of camping bikers. But the view of the mountain reflecting off the Pond was amazing, I just took this with my phone, I wished I had a better Camera with me for this one:
Yesterday I Climbed Mount Washington Twice. Once from each side. I started out at 7AM at Marshfield Station and Climbed the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail to Lake of the Clouds and signed the log, The cloud ceiling was just about 100 feet higher than the hut so I headed in to the clouds and proceeded up Crawford Path to the Summit at 9:13, Clicked a quick Summit picture and then headed down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail through Tuckerman Ravine. Just below the water fall it started to sprinkle rain and by the time I reached the ravine floor it was raining, just below the Connection Avalanche Cache a full on squall hit, with gust strong enough to knock you off your feet and sheets of driving rain. I found a good size overhanging rock to huddle under with my rain gear on for about 20 minutes until the storm passed. Once back on my feet again I made it to Pinkham Notch Visitor Center at 11:40, I went over and touched Rt. 16 to make my second ascent official. I went into the Visitor Center to fill my water bottle and ask if I could check the radar, because my smartphone doesn’t get service on the east side of the mountain, and I was curious how close the predicted thunderstorms were getting to the area. After letting me check the radar on his computer, the AMC trail information guy told me it probably wasn’t a good day for a hike. I told him I actually already hiked the mountain once and now I have to go back over again because my car was on the other side. He looked at me totally confused and concerned, I think he thought I came down the wrong side by mistake. I thought it would be funny to just let him keep thinking that, and didn’t bother explaining further, and just thanked him for use of his internet. The hike back up the lower Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Hermit Lake was by far most tedious part of the hike, but the sun was shining and there was blue sky in spots for the first time that day which lifted my spirits. I followed the Tuckerman Ravine Trail back up to the summit. I would have liked to mix up the trails a little bit for the second ascent but I decided for me these two routes were going to be the fastest for accomplishing my goal of summiting twice in a day. One nice thing about coming back through Tux was that I had not noticed that the snow arch was still standing on the way down because I was trying to get out of the ravine before the rain got heavier, but I was able to enjoy it on the way up, The Snow Arch is always tempting to go through, when it is this hollow, but I decided to forego the risky adventure this time despite it looking very stable. Once above the headwall the clouds got dark and thick, visibility was in the “Hiking From Cairn to Cairn Range”. Right about at the top of the headwall my phone battery quit so I wouldn’t be able to get anymore pics. With the predicted thunderstorms in the front of my mind I made quick time above tree line despite very sore and tired legs to get over the summit. I touched the summit sign at 2:02PM and immediately headed down the Crawford Path. I didn’t go into the State Park Building on either summit visit. I stopped and signed the log again at Lake of the Clouds and Pointed an arrow to my earlier log entry. And then took it easy going down the very slippery slabs on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. I arrived back at my car 3:51PM. As I placed my pack in my car and plugged my phone in to get a final picture I heard thunder off in the distance. My timing could not have been more perfect!
Ammo Ravine in the AM
Into the Clouds. I only got one summit shot due to my battery dying on my way up for the second trip.
Tux on my way down
Tux on my way back up
The Snow Arch
Plugged my phone in and got a pic at the end of my trip back at Marshfield Station