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Friday, July 23, 2021

Pemigewasset Loop

Running on four hours of sleep, I woke up at an AT hiker filled Notch Hostel at 3 am to start the Pemigewasset Loop at Lincoln Woods Trailhead. Storms had sucked the moisture out of the air over the past two weeks, and the stars and sun would finally be out. The "Pemi Loop" is 31 miles, 10,000 ft in elevation gain, and eight 4,000 ft. mountains that surrounds much of the pristine Pemigewasset Wilderness in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It’s rated as the most difficult day hike in eastern North America, typically broken into a two or three day backpacking trip. I pushed it all day to finish in 10 hours (moving time). After climbing all of the northeast 115 4,000 footers, including doing the Presidential Traverse, Bond-Zealand Traverse, and Great Range Traverse, this hike caps off an incredible past few years in the northeast highlands. There's something special about looking out at all the tallest peaks in a region knowing you've been on top of them all, each with their own set of hardships and memories. Feeling recharged and fulfilled, it's time to head south again. #Cheers

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

My. Success Plane Crash Site

Today I drove north to hike Mt. Success - a 52 with a view peak - to see the crash site of a plane downed in 1952. On the way up, I heard black-throated blue warblers, black-throated green warblers, thrushes and a winter wren. The crash site was eerily well preserved. This 8-mile hike was not very difficult and I will be taking a zero day tomorrow in prep for a grueling single day Pemigewasset loop on Thursday, 31 miles, 11,000 feet of elevation gain and 8 4,000 foot mountains.


Monday, July 19, 2021

1942 B-18 Bomber Crash Site

For the first day of vacation, I hiked an easy 5.5 mile trail near Notch Hostel, where I’m staying, to see the crash site of a B-18 bomber that hit the side of Waternomee mountain in 1942. The plane was heading south from patrolling for German submarines in Nova Scotia during World War II when it met some of the infamous White Mountains harsh weather. Of the seven aboard, only five survived. The site has parts of wings, two engines, the fusel lodge and landing gear scattered rather far apart because the plane had bombs on board that exploded upon impact. The trail was littered with chanterelle mushrooms, so I grabbed a bunch to par broile in bone broth soup at the hostel.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Chocorua with Erin

For our first adventure together up north, Erin and I hiked Chocorua mountain, which is as close to a 4,000-footer as you can get. The hike ended up being 8.5-miles with 2,782 feet in elevation gain. We heard black-throated green warblers, black and white warblers and blackburnian warblers. We heard white-throated sparrows up top and saw a raven. Rhodora, pink lady’s slipper, and bilberry were in bloom and we saw an abnormal formed four-flowered painted trillium! I was worried low clouds would obscure the 360-degree views but they broke right as we reached the top. This was Erin's first big mountain and she crushed it! It’s been a while since hiking a big mountain with a beginner; it made me slow down, enjoy the journey and think back to how difficult my first big mountain was. So glad we got it done together!


Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Northeast 111

    3 years, 54 hikes, 17 road trips, 4 states, 5 mountain ranges (White, Green, Adirondacks, Catskills, Longfellow), 191,202 feet in elevation gain, 622.8 miles hiked, 19 hiking partners, dozens of sleepy towns, 5 hostels, and 115 of the northeast's highest mountains summited. Last week, I finished my last 4,000 ft. mountain in the northeast, earning myself a membership in The Northeast 111 club, which actually contains 115 peaks due to modern surveying corrections: The 67 New England 4,000 footers, 46 Adirondack High Peaks, and Slide and Hunter Mountain in the Catskills. 

    This project gave me rain, sleet, snow, ice and sunshine - from mud season to bug season - every range and every hike was different and illuminating. Words can't describe how much I learned along this journey. What started as short weekend trips to re-center from work, get some exercise and be in nature manifested into longer personal growth retreats where I would eventually become more mindful of myself and life. The big mountains and painfully long hikes taught me how insignificant I am, and how unimportant day to day drama is in the grand scheme of things. The sweat, aches, pains, spruce traps (chest deep snow cavities concealed by baby spruce trees), persistent mosquitos, and poison ivy taught me to find comfort in being uncomfortable, and that the most rewarding points of view require endurance. These cheap weekend trips - often spent camping in the trunk of my SUV - gave me an outlet to recharge and explore the old growth forests, ancient geology, waterways, and sleepy towns of New England on a shoestring budget. Grounding experiences like these have a way of bringing awareness to what is meaningful and true in life and, most importantly, what is not. To all the magnificent sites seen, friendships forged, deep thoughts contemplated, and memories made along the trail - I'm forever grateful!  AMC48, ADK46, NE67, NE111!

Mt. Marcy, Adirondacks, NY - Photo: Kinley McCracken

Friday, February 26, 2021

Adirondacks 46er

Today, after nearly a year, I crossed off the final two peaks (gray & skylight) to finish the Adirondacks 46 4,000 ft. peaks! I hiked 8 days straight across 81.2 miles and over 24,000 ft. in elevation gain to get it done in time before heading back from vacation, and my muscles are screaming for it. This hike had everything you could want for a final peak. It was a bluebird day with no wind (the first in 8-days). I saw people only on the way out, mostly backcountry skiers. I had to break trail in deep snow for about 5-miles; I certainly had to work for it. Dozens of spruce traps, including some 6-foot holes. To top it off, a large full moon rose above the mountains on the way out viewed from lake placid. What a day, and what a journey! I learned so much, and I’ll be sure to post about the entire journey soon. 


Sawteeth Mountain

 Yesterday, I completed Sawteeth mountain. I stopped by Rainbow Falls, and then discovered a giant hop hornbeam tree. Anytime you see this slow growing understory tree approach 1-foot in diameter, you know you’re in virgin forest.