Monthly Archives: September 2012

# 25 & #26 Jennings and Sandwich Dome: Excerpt

Tough Cookie meets Park Ranger Dylan.

At the summit of Sandwich Dome we meet our very first Park Ranger, a kind and enthusiastic young woman named Dylan. Her job for the day has been checking on the expansion of campsites on the ridge to determine erosion and if the use is harming the beautiful Sandwich Dome ridge.

She’s excited to see a ten-year-old up here, and I’m impressed by her engagement, maintaining a level of enthusiasm while at the same time checking to see how Janelle’s feeling, where we’re heading, what sort of food we have.

“I just finished some awesome lentil soup,” she says to Janelle. “What are you eating for lunch?” That sort of thing.

When she learns this is peak number 26 for Janelle, half way through the list, her eyes get wide. “That’s so great, congrats,” she says.

I take a picture of her with Janelle, and wonder if perhaps my hiking partner is just a younger version of this ranger. Tough Cookie certainly has the interest and mind-set for a life in the woods, but really, I haven’t a clue. On an earlier hike, Janelle mentioned that she wanted to be a dentist. That would be fine as well.

So for now, we are half way through this journey, still strong, still moving forward, still excited about what’s around the next corner. And now that autumn is upon us, a different sort of forest awaits. But we will march on, figuring out each other as much as exploring these mountains, and watch the leaves turn color and feel the air become brisk.

Half way there friends. Thank you so much for your support and kind words. Hike on!

Jennings Peak and Sandwich Dome (9/15/12)

Heights: 3,460 & 3,980 feet

Location: Waterville Valley, I-93 north to Exit 28 to Route 49 toward Waterville Valley.

Our trailhead: Sandwich Mountain Trail with side trip to Jennings Spur, return trip down Drake’s Brook Trail.

Distance: 8.5 miles round trip.

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Categories: Excerpts and 52WAV Mountain Stats | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

#24 Cube: Excerpt

The north ledges of Mt. Cube provide wide views toward Mt. Moosilauke.

“Dan and Janelle!” Someone is shouting our names.

Two hikers emerge onto the summit of Mt. Cube where we are having lunch. One of them clearly knows us. There is always something a bit disconcerting about being recognized by someone you don’t know, but years in journalism and writing have made me somewhat familiar with the experience. But this is the first time such a thing happens to Janelle. I’m curious how she’ll react.

Patti is a long time follower of The Nepal Chronicles and switched to following us here when The Adventures began. She recognizes us through photos on our site. And before long, they are no longer strangers. Patti is working on her 52WAV list as well. And years ago, she had hiked all the 4,000 footers with her son.

Janelle is quiet at first, but begins to open up after a while. She’s not a girl who makes friends quickly, the consequences perhaps of years of geographic uncertainly, of being moved around a lot, of not knowing how long any current situation will last. I stay close to her, gauging her reactions and level of comfort, but she seems fine.

After, we sit on the mountain’s magnificent north ledges which look out over the giant bulk of Mt. Moosilauke and Blueberry Mountain, and the day is warm and bright and neither of us say anything for a while. Then, she chirps, “Well, that was weird.”

My heart sinks a little, but she notices my distress and quickly adds, “But good weird! Really good! They seem like really nice people.”

“You’re not just saying that?” I ask.

She shakes her head, smiles and hands me a brownie.

Mt. Cube (9/11/12)

Height: 2,909 feet

Location: Near Lyme, I-93 north to Exit 26 to Route 25 west to Route 25A west to Baker Road.

Our trailhead: Cross-Rivendell Trail up and back, with side trip to north ledges.

Distance: 5 miles round trip.

Categories: Excerpts and 52WAV Mountain Stats | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Slideshow on Tremont

Our good friend Peter is a great photographer (www.noonanarts.com) and he accompanied us up Mt. Tremont to take some pictures of Buffalo and Tough Cookie. Janelle and I welcomed the opportunity to be in some pictures together as that’s always difficult when it’s just the two of us. So, we thought we’d take a little break from our trail reporting today to bring you this slideshow. Hope you enjoy it!

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Categories: Updates and Plans | 8 Comments

#23 Tremont: Excerpt

Tearing up the trail through a birch forest.

Janelle and I love hiking with others. No, we’re not sick of each other!

When our friends and family come with us to support this journey, the hike becomes richer and more expressive. Plus, it’s sort of a way for Janelle to show off. Tough Cookie has come so far in just a few months; physically, sure. But when her head is in a hike, when she’s in the moment and wishes to be nowhere but in the mountains, she can be unstoppable.

That was the case Saturday as our friends Peter and Elizabeth (trail names Alvin the Swede and Inchworm) join us for a wet and wild hike up Mt. Tremont, a little known summit south of Crawford Notch near the Sawyer Ponds.

Tough Cookie is in high form, bouncing up the trail, engaged, funny. In quieter moments now, as she kneels down to study a deep purple fungus or lets the wind at a summit tear through her already wild hair, I can see shadows of the outdoors woman she might become; perhaps a hut croo member, an environmentalist, a thru-hiker? Those moments are still fleeting as she’s young and it’s unclear what the real impact of these adventures will be.

Perhaps her high mood is just that of a hiker, still a child, enjoying the company of friends, being the center of attention, showing us that she knows the names of clouds or can identify a mushroom or two.

Either way, time goes by as it always does in the mountains and together we all laugh and slip in the mud and tell stories and the day rolls on.

Mt. Tremont (9/8/12)

Height: 3,371 feet

Location: South of Crawford Notch,  I-93 to Exit 35 to Route 3 north to Route 302 through Crawford Notch.

Our trailhead: Mount Tremont Trail up and back.

Distance: 5.6 miles round trip.

Categories: Excerpts and 52WAV Mountain Stats | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

#22 North Percy: Excerpt

The mountain girl in her element after a tough hike up.

The promise of views is often the fuel that propels us up a difficult pitch or gives us the incentive to navigate a tough stream crossing or muddy bog.

Today is not one of those days.

We are only a mile up the Percy Peaks Trail and Tough Cookie is faltering. It’s day 4 in a row for us, Labor Day, and we have pushed hard this past weekend. We’re on our final climb, North Percy, one of the most beautiful on our list, but we’re both beat.

Janelle is having a hard time shaking the images out of her head of all her friends playing at home, enjoying this day off from school. But unlike Mt. Martha last month, there’s no tears and no drama. She just drags, and that at least is progress. I’m proud that she forges on, that she understands that this hike, this time, is about mental discipline and determination. Someday, she may need to rely on those traits in real life.

But, despite our tired legs, we fight back. We make up a head game called what I’d rather be doing. I start.

“I’d rather be eating a popsicle than hiking!” I proclaim. Then, we hike for ten minutes while she thinks of something to add.

After the allotted time, she shouts, “I’d rather be eating a popsicle and hanging out with my friends than hiking!”

And so it goes. We wind up this beautiful and steep mountain, past the enormous moss-covered rock slabs, past the thick pine overgrowth, onto the rich ridge and finally up into the azure sky; our legs becoming strong, our hearts pounding in our ears, together.

All the while, we proclaim our deepest desires to be someplace else.

North Percy Peak (9/3/12)

Height: 3,430 feet

Location: Near Stark, I-93 to exit 35 to Route 3 north to Groveton to Route 110 east to Emerson Road to Nash Stream Road.

Our trailhead: Percy Peaks Trail (Warning: Nash Stream Road may be closed in winter.)

Distance: 4.4 miles round trip.

Categories: Excerpts and 52WAV Mountain Stats | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

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