Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mt. Garfield

Last night after checking trail conditions and the hour by hour weather forecast, Charlie and I decided that today we would hike Mt. Garfield.

There are 48 peaks on the official list of New Hampshire mountains that top out at over 4000 feet. Over his many years as wilderness director at Camp Calumet, Charlie climbed many of the peaks and when we got married in August, 2006, we started hiking them together.

When our hiking season ended last fall, Charlie still had one more to go--Mt. Garfield--and today was the day. We e-mailed Tom to see if he could join us, but he and Atticus had hiked on Saturday in the 90+ heat and felt that a day to recuperate was necessary.

Mt. Garfield is at the northern edge of the Pemigewasset Wilderness which is one of the most precious treasures of northern New England.

The trail was 5 miles to the summit with a 3000 foot elevation gain. Many of the trails we hike have a 1 mile: 1000 foot gain ratio, so this one seemed gentle enough for my first hike of the season.

I had especially remembered Tom's slideshow from his winter hike up Garfield and all along the trail tried to remember the music and reconcile the snowy scenes in the slideshow with the heat, humidity and bugs that were our experience. Despite the heat, humidity and bugs, though, this hike easily made it into my list of favorite hikes. Texican--you need to start training because this is the one you are taking the next time you come north.

The views from the top of Mt. Garfield were spectacular. According to the guidebook, 30 of the 4000 footer peaks are visible from the summit. It was so much fun to be able to identify the peaks and remember the hikes that accomplished them. I still have nine left on my list of 48, but Charlie is able to tell a story about every peak--he didn't tell them all as we basked in the sun on the summit cone but I expect over the next several months, he will.

Reluctantly, we headed off the top as clouds gathered in the west bringing fears of a thunderstorm. The hike down took as long as the hike up--I never understand why that is.

When we situated our sweaty bodies in the car, I said "there's something on our windshield and it looks like an envelope and I think it says Charlie and Beth on it" It was a friendly note of congratulations from Tom who had driven from his home in Lincoln to the trailhead in Bethlehem in order to deliver it--how did he even know which car was ours? With gas at $4 a gallon it was certainly an enormous act of kindness--Thank you, Tom.

Congratulations, Charlie. You chose an awesome way to view art. It has struck me many times that fewer people have seen the enormous beauty from the summits than have seen the works of DaVinci.


mon@rch said...

Mt Garfield looks like an amazing place to hike to and many wonderful photographic opportunities.

Thomas F. Ryan said...

Congratulations again to Charlie, and you too, Beth. Today was hot and we would have loved to have joined you but we really melted yesterday and Atticus now-thick and dark coat is a magnet to the sun.

As far as the note goes, it was easy, there were two cars with Maine plates. I simply decided to use my past as a reporter to figure out which one would belong to a teacher and an attorney. (It was rather easy as the other choice was filled with trash and I don't figure either of you to be that messy.)

Kathryn and Ari said...

I found a link to your blog on Kathie's Sycamore Canyon page, and I'm so glad I did. It's great to meet another mountain hiking Mainer! Great blog--I'll be back again and again.

The Texican said...

Okay Beth you've thrown down the challenge. One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. Now for the other finger. I'll be ready in no time. Looks like fun. I am officially in training.

Beth said...

It is indeed a photographers dream, Monarch. I took lots of pictures of lady slippers and was surprised that there were no gray jays visiting us while we ate our lunch on the summit.

Tom, you are quite a detective! Thanks again :)

Kathryn and Ari, I will enjoy visiting your site as well, it sounds like we have many of the same interests and are not too far away! Welcome.

Texican, Glad you accepted the challenge--Not sure how one trains for climbing a mountain in south Texas, but I'm sure you'll think of something.

Jayne said...

I am duly impressed Beth! Congratulations! What a view from the top... the best reward.

beckie said...

Congratulations to Charlie! And you as well, Beth. Living in the 'flats' virtually all of my life, I cannot imagine ever being inclined to climb a mountain, let alone 48! But more power to you for being able to appreciate the beauty of a summit view. Maybe some day when they install a tram, I will join you up top. :)

Weather Boy said...

I'm hoping Beckie's phrase "inclined to climb a mountain" was intentional, because it is brilliant.

Mt. Garfield, eh? Sounds like a nice one! Our clan needs to get out on the trails more.

KGMom said...

Lovely views--although thinking of hiking exhausts me (maybe it's the heat in central PA right now that does that).

Beth said...

Jayne, thanks--I am a view bagger rather than a peak bagger and they are always worth it.

Beckie, Weatherboy caught your pun--I probably wouldn't have. Mountains are funny, they get inside you--I would still be in Iowa if there were mountains there.

Weatherboy, there were little ones that made the climb when we did--they seem to fare better than the adults sometimes.

KGMom, the heat takes the energy right out of you, my son lives in Central PA and he was complaining about the heat too

TheElementary said...

Spouse and I might go to climb a mountain next weekend... probably Monadnock. We did it last year and I was scared all the way up and all the way down but so, so happy to be doing it. I love mountains but I have to get a grip on my fear of heights. It's the kind of mountain that really involves 'climbing' and holding on with your hands. I'm sure it's a baby compared to Garfield!
Writing like this would probably inspire even the more fearful person to go out and hike a mountain. I'm glad you and your husband both like mountain climbing. Finding somebody who shares that joy with you is very special.
Nobody knows how the journey downward is as long, if not longer because traditionally in car journeys the way home is always shorter, after the vacation. It's strange.

Beth said...

The Elementary, Mt. Monadnock is a good mountain to climb--I hope you have fun. I get scared too--Katahdin scares the daylights out of me but I climb it every year and every year say I'm never climbing that mountain again and then I do. Trekking poles might help you feel a little more secure. I usually hike with them although forgot them last weekend. Anyway, enjoy! Maybe we can meet for Moosilauke later in the summer. That's right of I93.

andrea_frets said...

Can I say I'm a little jealous? After hiking in the Adirondacks and Green Mountain, I did my first hike in the White Mountains last year and hit two peaks on the way to the Mizpah Hut. For the life of me, I can't remember the names. We hiked in August but there was a high wind advisory and wind chill watch. It ended up being beautiful and we had a fantastic time.

Beth said...

Andrea, Mizpah is a pretty hut--maybe it was Pierce and Jackson that you hiked to get there? If so, you have two of the 4000 footers under your belt and if you've been hiking in the Green Mountains and the 'daks you could be well on your way to the 90 4000 footers in New York and New England!

TheElementary said...

I'd better read up about Moosilauke then :) It would be really wonderful to meet you!
Strangely, it comforts me to know you also get scared and say you'll never go again.
I'll look into those trekking poles too. They might help with my balance and confidence. Thanks!

Kathiesbirds said...

Beth, awesome post and photos! I love the cool green and white of the flowers. Is that vibirnum? I have never heard of this wildnerness area or Mt. Garfield. Mt. Washington is the one that gets all the attention. I assume it is in the same Presidential Range. I hope someday I can hike some of these trails, though I will have to find a partner as Gus is not up for such strenuous hiking!