Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Tippy Tops of New Hampshire

On Saturday, we hiked the Signal Ridge Trail to the top of 4700 foot Mt. Carrigain for my final New Hampshire 4000 footer climb.

I read a lot of mountain climbing books and blogs and it occurs to me that 4000 foot tall mountains aren't really that tall--Colorado climbers have their 14,000 foot club and Europeans have the Alps and don't even get me started on the Himalyas--but for we New Englanders who hit the trail near sea level, 4000 feet is the best we can do and doggone it, our trails are plenty hard enough for middle-aged weekend warriors like me! So yesterday on a picture perfect September day, we climbed up Mt. Carrigain. From the observation tower at the summit we could see 43 of the 48 peaks and we named them and remembered the climbs to reach their tops.

Ethan came up from Pennsylvania to share the hike. Charlie's sons Caleb and Jacob joined us, too. Net result of so much testosterone--I did not have to carry a backpack!

We ate our sandwiches on the summit and as we ate, I pointed out a beautiful gray jay keeping watch from a nearby spruce. He was so pretty and just weeks away from a long, long winter--so I gave in to temptation and shared a corner of my peanut butter and jelly with him.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Today, Carrigain

Today is the day to finish climbing the 48 New Hampshire 4000 footers. Caleb is driving up from Massachusetts to meet us at the trailhead, Ethan is here from Pennsylvania and Charlie will be at my side as we hike Mt. Carrigain.

See you at the top.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Scales of Justice

One morning last winter, our morning news reported a man dead after a train hit a car on the railroad tracks in the wee hours of the morning in a nearby town. At first blush, that sounded unfortunate but not out of the realm of sad but ordinary. As details emerged, it became clear that it was anything but ordinary. The car was down the tracks away from the crossing. More details--the train was only going 25 miles per hour and the man in the car had died from injuries unrelated to the train crash. Oh dear, this began to sound grisley--more like Law & Order than the bucolic life in the mountains.

A young man was arrested on circumstantial evidence.

One of my friends took the case as the defense attorney and yesterday the young man was acquitted after a week long trial.

There are lots of feelings in the community when something like that happens and I would not presume to characterize or minimize all of the emotions, but I am very proud of my friend. He protected his client and he protected the Constitution and he held the State to its burden of proof.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mountain Trails

So, I turned 50.

It happens.

Others have done it and lived to tell the tale. Maybe it's no big deal, maybe it is--I guess that's something I'll have to think about. But whatever it is, it is a round number and round numbers provide an opportunity for sizing things up. So, size it up I will and I think it's ok. Life is full and beautiful and everything that my young self would have hoped for. No regrets.

But enough about age, let's go hiking.

After a miserable New England summer full of rain and cold temperatures, fall is turning out to be pretty darn perfect.

At one point, early in the season before the rain and before the super duper vacation, I had thought that maybe I would finish climbing all of the New England 4000 footers by the time I turned 50. That plan was de-railed by early July but I kept hiking whenever good weather and opportunity collided.

The hike to Bondcliff Mountain in New Hampshire was the one that I had the most trouble visualizing. There is no easy way to get to Bondcliff--it is in the middle of the Pemigewasset Wilderness and requires a long hike into the wilderness just to get to the mountain trail.

We finally settled on heading into the Wilderness on a Saturday afternoon with a tent and sleeping bags and camping 5 or 6 miles in, leaving our gear in the woods and summiting on Sunday with just day packs then returning to our big packs and hiking out Sunday afternoon. The plan worked like a charm--mainly because Charlie didn't mind carrying all the heavy stuff. Anyway, we hiked in and put our tent up in the woods off the trail, ate supper, went to sleep and woke up to head up the mountain that I had dreamed of the most.

When I first started hiking the mountains, I read every book that I could get my hands on and invariably the authors would talk about Bondcliff. It was at the top of almost everyone's list of favorite mountains and its inaccessibility added to its allure. So for the last four years, I have been wondering how and when I would experience it--the conditions had to be perfect for this most anticipated of mountains and on our weekend, they were. It was just incredible--like being on an island in the middle of a sea of mountains. A flat topped mountain with sheer cliffs dropping into the Pemigewasset.

We spent time on the top taking pictures of the views and each other then we hiked out retriving our heavy gear along the way. With Bondcliff under my belt I only have one more New Hampshire 4000 footer on the list. There are still more in Vermont and Maine to check off but I should complete the 48 peaks in New Hampshire this month.