This little Gingerbread Shasta is honor of the holidays. Have you started your holiday decorating? I have to admit I rarely spend a lot of time or money decorating. We put up a few small trees and handmade wreaths, but we keep it simple.
We decided to hit New Hampshire's highest peak in September, hoping to avoid some of the crowds and heat. Even though we managed to avoid the heat- the crowds seemed to be just as heavy as ever. Much of the time we spent side stepping and letting large groups of people pass.
The Ammonoosuc Trail is very steep and tricky with lots of wet granite and slippery footing. The trail follows sections of the Ammonoosuc River and is quite scenic.
Once you reach treeline Lake of the Clouds Hut welcomes you depending on what time of year you hike. It closes down right at the end of the summer, so we were not able to make a pitstop. Monroe juts out to the right and the long hike to Mount Washington ventures off to the left of the hut.
The Summit of Mount Washington was packed with people and cars. It's so out of the ordinary to spend hours hiking up some of the roughest terrain and then have to look in both directions for cars. We actually had to wait in line to take our picture at the summit sign. Completely crazy.
Monroe seemed a far stretch as we headed back down Washington, but we somehow made it and then hightailed it home.
The Old Man of Monroe ;=)
Certainly a fun and memorable hike, but not the kind I would like to do every week. I like my solitude while hiking.
The Wildcats are a gnarly set of mountains positioned on part of the Appalachian Trail. Our hike in early September was a perfect time of year to meet up with thru hikers of the AT. We met up with so many interesting people and really felt inspired from their stories.
Many of the thru hikers shared that they had been dreading this section. The Wildcats gain elevation quickly and continue to drop and rise in elevation as you make your way across A, B, C, D, and E. Much of the trail is a nasty scramble up rocks and really calls to hikers that like heights.
We had attempted the Wildcats many, many years ago so we knew exactly where to find the trail. It can be tricky to locate. After going under route 16 look immediately to your left and follow the highway for 20 yards or so. The trail then crosses the river and is easy to follow there after.
The river crossing is generally one of the easier crossings, but of course can be complicated during times of high water.
Expect to be exhausted no matter what shape you are in. The Wildcats are awesome and gnarly and relentless, even though the mileage does not reflect that. Out and backs are particularly challenging because you have to climb each of the peaks essentially twice (once for out and again for back).
Looking at the Presidentials; Hidden under clouds
Another challenge for the out and back hikers is knowing which peak you are on. Wildcats D,C, and B are very unceremonious Knowing when to turn back is a little tricky. Other hikers we passed that taken the route in the opposite direction seemed to be no better off than we were for location. A little tricky so keep your map handy.
The change in the seasons has slowed down our hiking lately- but we have still been working on the list! We've had a few false starts involving very long drives just to discover we had forgotten very critical things--- such as pants (I know really?!?).
Anyway, we are all the way up to number 37 (just finally claimed Waumbek this weekend). The mountains have been covering up with snow and dropping significantly in temperature. Our hike this weekend was cold yet we still managed to stay very, very sweaty.
The thing with winter is that it really cuts away the men from the boys. It's freakin' cold when you start. You wake up at 4:30- 5:00 to drive 2 or 3 hours. The trail may be broken or maybe not. You may need snowshoes or maybe not. Crampons, stabilizers- you can never really be sure so you carry them all just in case.
You have to really, really love the outdoors and winter to do this winter hiking thing. Some days I question my own interest when my hair is frozen into icicles against my face on a windy peak.
For me- I really love the isolation of it all. I love stopping to catch my breath and hearing nothing. To imagine that there isn't a soul for miles around.That's what drives me...
So more to come. I'm still working on catching this ol' blog up to us on the actual list so you can follow us in real time.