Press and Promotion

Back on a mountain and not looking back

Taking a break on our first real up in a while.

Taking a break on our first real up in a while.

“Excuse me, but did a teenager with long hair and a colorful shirt zip past?” I ask the lady and her dog. I’m heading down the Tecumseh Trail, she’s heading up.

“Oh yeah,” she says, “she yours?”

“Yup,” I say, “just want to make sure she’s still ahead of me.”

“She is,” the lady says. Then, she adds, “Waaaaaay ahead of you.”

The day is fine, there are no turn offs on the trail and Tough Cookie is dancing down ahead of me after the two of us successfully summited 4,003-foot Mt. Tecumseh. This is not a mountain that creates epic campfire stories. Poor Tecumseh, the lowest of the 48, the least respected. Next to a ski hill. One mile of leg numbing, rocky up. This mountain is often either one of the first or a quick one-off on a peak-baggers list. Tecumseh is a mountain to get out of the way.

But not for us, not today. It has been two years and two months and a handful of days since Buffalo and Tough Cookie high-fived atop a 4,000-footer. Sure, we’ve had adventures since then; frozen lakes and overnights at AMC huts and other peaks and valleys. But we’ve also had a new baby, and school track and a book tour. And somewhere in the haze of life, the high peaks have eluded us.

Which way do we go?

Which way do we go?

So, this was a day that hurt. Our trail legs were flabby and lungs ragged. We cooked in the humid air, and hydrated poorly. We slipped on loose rocks and looked up at the one mile of up and felt every second of that time away. But accomplishment rarely happens without pain.

And today, we talked of our new lives, of boyfriends, and changes around the corner. We watch butterflies and wasps. Janelle dipped her hands in the freezing mountain stream and splashed her face and I thought to myself, My God, she’s no longer a child, how did that happen?

And at the summit, we ate our traditional BP&Js, joined in the celebration along with 20 other summit wanderers and watched the lazy views north toward the Tripyramids and beyond. But we didn’t stay long today, didn’t feel calm and at peace with the mountains, not after all this time. Janelle tagged her third 4,000 footer. We agreed to begin her list in earnest.

Summit of Mt. Tecumseh

Summit of Mt. Tecumseh

And on shaky, tired legs, we headed down. But I can’t compete with a 13-year-old’s knees. And why would I? I let her go and silently declared the day a success.

Finally, as I reach the trailhead, I see her sitting on a rock, her face to the sun, looking up at the distant peaks. And for a split second, I can see the little girl again, but that’s just my rueful memory.

I shake that away, and move to the present. “Hey,” she says, seeing me approach. “Hey yourself,” I say. “Good hike?” She nods. It is. It was. There will be more.

For more pics, updates and information on presentations, please join our Facebook page here: The Adventures of Buffalo and Tough Cookie

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A Long Time Coming: The Return of Buffalo and Tough Cookie

Tough Cookie en route to a rocky island on frozen Lake Massabesic.

Tough Cookie en route to a rocky island on frozen Lake Massabesic.

“Yup, it’s colder out here then at home,” she says. Tough Cookie and I are standing just off-shore on frozen Lake Massabesic in Manchester. Our quest for the day is an intriguing series of small islands about a half mile away. At home, in wind cover, the day feels positively balmy compared to the last few weeks.

But out here, the wind comes howling down off the small ridges surrounding the city’s biggest lake, picks up speed over the ice and snow crystals and feels like tiny cold razors when it brushes exposed skin.

“Here, take this,” I say and hand her a fleece neck warmer to slide down over her head. She raises an eyebrow. The thing is just not terribly fashionable and is a sort of puke green color.

I’m amazed that we are at that point, the girl and I, where she is now (nearly) a teenager and there’s a sort of negotiation that goes on both between us and in her own head when it comes to such things. Well, she must be thinking, it is cold and that does look warm, and the hiker in me understands it makes sense to wear it, but then again, he’s telling me to wear it and I’m naturally inclined to resist adults and it is a hideous color and what if I meet somebody I know?

Powering over the ice!

Powering over the ice!

But today, I manage to prevail, and she makes a sort of “hmmm” grunting sound before sliding it over her head. And good thing too, because the wind hits us and we set our shoulders to the task, and once again, just like that, Buffalo and Tough Cookie are forging into an adventure.

Life sometimes takes no prisoners and neither of us ever claimed to be victims to Fortune’s wheel, but these past few months have challenged us in ways we could not have possibly have imagined. Pregnancy and birth. There is now a new eight week old hiker-to-be in our clan. School and family. Nothing is more important. The holidays. Well, we all know that can suck the life out of you.

But now, months after any major hike, I turn my exposed cheek away from the wind and look over at my long-time hiking partner. She leans into her snowshoes, her poles planting with firm crunches in the icy snow. I breath in the frosty air, frigid in my throat and lungs. Like two old friends with a shared understanding of each other, time apart means nothing when together again.

We beeline for the largest of the islands, a thin strip of poplar and pine maybe 20 feet wide, but a few hundred yards long. The ice snow is of different depths. In some places, the wind has scoured the lake nearly to the ice and we can walk over the rippled frozen water. In other places, we have to plow through one and two foot drifts.

We are far from alone today. The lake is a veritable playground this morning. Snowmobiles tear back and forth. Tiny, mobile bob houses dot the lake, the fishermens’ ice holes marked my large, plastic red and white bobbers held up by sticks. Other hikers – some on cross-country skis – explore the lake as well.

We reach the island and Tough Cookie finds a good spot for us to boost ourselves up to the “shore.” The snow on the island is very deep and we take turns falling into root and rock traps as we go. After a bit, we discover a huge boulder, and Janelle boosts herself up to the top. I break out the thermos for tea and we hang out a bit, away from the chilly breeze.

But ultimately, this island doesn’t hold our interest, so we scramble back down the other side and make our way across a channel to a tiny, rocky island strewn with boulders. “Whoa,” Janelle says, “look at this!”

There is a large boulder, just off the main shore, sticking about four feet above the ice. All around it, the water appears to have crashed in ripples against the rock. When the water began to freeze, it’s as though the ice lifted in waves against the rock. Adding to the interesting formation is the fact that the wind has scoured away the snow near the rock and we can get down on our hands and knees and, in some spots, look deeply into the lake through the clear, blue ice.

Tough Cookie shucks off her poles and scrambles around on the ice, sticking her legs out in front of her and sliding down the incline in the snow. “This is so cool!”

Checking out the cool ice formations.

Checking out the cool ice formations.

And for a few moments, she’s the little girl who began hiking with me four years ago; the kid who slowly began to develop a love of nature with big wonder and amazement. I wouldn’t change the incredible young woman that she has become, but it’s nice to see her engaged again in the moment as she slips off her glove and runs her fingers over the smooth ice. “Look at this, what is this?”

In the ice are tiny frozen bubbles, created perhaps by lapping water as it froze. Or maybe the fish and animals down below popped bubbles up. I have no clue and I tell her so.

“When you write about this, you should take a picture and ask people if they know,” she says. I’ve been a little concerned lately that as she gets older, she’ll be less inclined to appreciate my writing about our adventures. I’m thrilled that she doesn’t seem to mind.

In the car, on the way home, we drive by a section of the lake and spy two ice paragliders; the operators grip the wires, straining against the stiff, cold wind, their chutes wide open to the sky. They move fast along the icy snow. “I’ve never seen anything like that!” Janelle says.

I consider stopping and going back out on the ice. I think about asking her if she’d like to try that some day, but that would be a foolish question as I know the answer. Instead, I say, “Come on we’ll stop at a diner on the way home and I’ll buy you a hot chocolate.”

She nods, and grins, but her eyes stay for a long time on the colorful chutes against the bright, white clouds.




Buffalo and Tough Cookie have a full spring of events planned and we’d love for you to join us!

Next up, we’ll be giving a presentation at Merrimack Public Library on Thursday, March 19 from 7-8:30pm.

The show is FREE! For more information on Buffalo and Tough Cookie or just Dan Szczesny events, stop by Dan’s website for all the latest news: Dan’s Event Schedule



Categories: Press and Promotion | 2 Comments

Welcome new friends, we hope you enjoyed Windows to the Wild and join us on our adventure!

An amazing day today, for many reasons. But here's the main one: tonight's repeat of Windows to the Wild crashed my phone in the outpouring of well wishes, book requests and support. I'll work on saying thank you to everyone in the days ahead. Tonight, I'll say thank you to my muse. Want to go Spider Monkey, this amazing adventure has been one of my life's joys!

An amazing day today, for many reasons. But here’s the main one: tonight’s repeat of Windows to the Wild crashed my phone in the outpouring of well wishes, book requests and support. If you enjoyed the show, please join us on Facebook, Twitter or here for more pics, info and upcoming hikes! I’ll work on saying thank you to everyone in the days ahead. Tonight, I’ll say thank you to my muse. Way to go Spider Monkey, this amazing adventure has been one of my life’s joys!

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New teaser for our Windows to the Wild show is out, and we’re only two days away from broadcast!

NHPTV photographer Joe Klementovich captured this monent atop Mt. Magalloway, during our hike with WIllem Lange.

NHPTV photographer Joe Klementovich captured this m atop Mt. Magalloway, during our hike with Willem Lange.

Just a quick note to start the week and remind our friends and fans that we’re only two days away from our appearance on Windows to the Wild with Willem Lange. Here’s a link to the teaser of the episode, which will appear on Wednesday, October 8 at 7:30pm on NHPTV. We can’t wait!

Click here for the teaser: Buffalo and Tough Cookie with Willem Lange

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Date set for the Windows to the Wild broadcast!

Well friends, as you can see by the new picture in our header, we’re excited about the upcoming broadcast of the Windows to the Wild show featuring Buffalo and Tough Cookie! The air date is, drum roll please, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014 at 7:30pm on New Hampshire Public Television. We even already have a blurb on their site, check it out: An Unusual Hiking Duo

I’ll post more as the time draws near, but until then, here’s one of my favorite shots from the hike. Big thanks for the pics to Joe Klementovich. Our banner and the pic below is © Joe Klementovich for New Hampshire Public Television.

Guess who was the center of attention all day long?

Guess who was the center of attention all day long?

Categories: Press and Promotion | 1 Comment

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