Friday, July 10, 2009

Tomorrow, Tecumseh

Somewhere off to the southwest of Mt. Willey where Molly and I hiked on monday is the least of the New Hampshire 4000 footers called Mt. Tecumseh. I know that it is a true favorite of Tom and Atticus--they (well, Tom, I presume) wrote about it here. I have never climbed it and tomorrow, I think, will be the day.

There are 67 mountains above 4000 feet in New England. 48 of them are in New Hampshire, 14 are in Maine and 5 are in Vermont. In my younger days, I climbed some of them and some of those many times (Washington, Camels Hump and Mansfield) but that was before I began the quest--so anything that I climbed before June 21, 2005, does not count.

On the morning of June 21, 2005, I was on the last day of a short vacation in North Conway, New Hampshire, with Molly and Archie. We had driven over and stayed in a hotel for a couple of nights while the kids took a rock climbing course with International Mountain Climbing School.

That last morning, we sat in a Friendly's restaurant eating breakfast and I gave Molly and Archie a couple of options of what we could do with our day--a water park or go for a hike. They both immediately said they wanted to go climb Mt. Washington. Well, I had climbed Mt. Washington several times but not in recent years and, in fact, I wasn't really in very good shape for climbing up the tallest mountain in the northeast--especially as an impetuous decision over pancakes--but, OK!!

So, we drove to the trailhead and headed up. They beat me up by a good margin but waited at the top and then we headed down--they beat me down by a long shot, too, but by the time we met at the car I knew that I would find the peace and healing and strength that I had been looking for in the mountains.

Molly had her learner's permit and so I let her drive home since my legs were very sore--we took a shortcut down a road (and I use the word loosely) called the Jefferson Notch Road. It was full of huge potholes and our little VW Jetta bottomed out several times. Between my exhaustion and Molly's inexperience, we did not notice the oil light. We had ruptured the oil pan on a pothole. The engine seized and that was the end of the VW Jetta. But, that worked out too--I decided to buy a car better suited to my new life as a lady of the mountains and we picked out a Ford Escape.

A few weeks later, I climbed up to Mt. Madison by myself. It was the first time that I had hiked alone and it was fine--I really liked it. A few weeks after that I climbed Mt. Lafayette and Mt. Lincoln--Ethan and Molly went with me on that long hike--although they were jackrabbits who I only saw at pre-arranged catchup spots. Not long after that I hiked Mt. Jefferson alone and then Mt. Eisenhower and then in a memorable hike in October, I hiked to Mt. Monroe along the historic Crawford Path. The Red Sox were playing the Yankees that Sunday and as I hiked I met up with two men who were hiking with a radio on their backpack--we hiked together and listened to the game as all the world stretched below us dressed in red and gold. At that moment, I knew that I was experiencing what for me was perfect bliss.

There were many more hikes throughout that fall and winter some in New Hampshire and some in Maine. Mostly I hiked alone, but sometimes with one of the kids and once, in the winter, with Ethan's entire fraternity up Cannon Mountain. Then in the summer of 2006, Charlie appeared back in my life and we got married and started hiking together. In September of 2006, we hiked over the Wildcats and into Carter Notch, spent the night in the hut and then climbed up to Carter Dome the next morning where we met Tom and Atticus. At that point, I didn't know much about peak bagging but Tom told us about his adventures with Atticus climbing the 48 New Hampshire peaks and I really was intrigued. When we got to a trail junction, we had a choice. Either head back to the car or take another trail so that we could summit South Carter--a mountain with no view and no reason to be climbed other than to check it off a list. Either we were peak baggers or we weren't. We took the trail for South Carter and so began the checkmarks.

So here I am, closing in on the end of the list. I have six more in New Hampshire, 7 more in Maine and 3 more in Vermont.

Tomorrow, we will check Tecumseh and I will strategize on how to get the rest based on the weather and my work schedule. I would like to finish the New Hampshire ones before Molly goes back to college on August 16 so she can share the last New Hampshire peak with me since she was there for the first one.

And that peace, strength and healing that I suspected I would find in the mountains--it was there.


Vickie said...

What a wonderful story on so many levels. I especially love the determination you felt because the places you found brought so much satisfaction and peace. I've never heard the expression 'peak baggers' before and I like it.

And I must add, the first time I encountered and remembered the name Tecumseh beyond knowing it was a Shawnee chief's name, was when I enountered a Golden eagle by that name. He was the first bird I drew. Makes me smile to think of him. Enjoy that climb.

Cindy said...

Way to go!! Don't know if I will be able to but you inspire me to want to climb the NH ones at least.

My Dad grew up in Gorham, NH. He often talked about leaving to climb MT Washington by 3:00 AM in order to reach the summit by sunrise. I have a picture of him with his father at some outing at the Summit house. Unfortunately he passed when i was in college.

But that is in the future probably not this summer and I will tell you about that in an email.

Have a great day of climbing; Happy Trails.

rach :) said...

Sometimes things just have a way of working out, don't they?

Jayne said...

I am in awe of your fortitude and perseverance in your climbing Beth. You inspire me, fully inspire me. :c)

SJ said...

Good luck, I haven't been out for a hike yet this summer. We plan to take the summer school kids up to Bull Rock and check out the senior classes "art work", I suspect you know someone involved in that? Good luck with the hiking!

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Lavinia said...

"Lady of the Mountains" has such a nice ring to it.

I agree with the peace, healing and strength. The mountains impart that like nothing else. But I think those who live on the sea find some there too. Nature on a big scale gives us something we need in our souls.

Larry said...

I love following the red Sox when I'm in some remote area of the Northeast.The remoteness seems to make the games even more special particularly when they're beating the Yankees.

Anonymous said...

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