Posts Tagged With: 4000 footers

Grape Nuts and the river of slush, or The Moose makes us work for it

Getting our winter alpine on near Mooilauke's summit.

Getting our winter alpine on near Mooilauke’s summit.

At 2,000 feet, the trail is clear, the day warm, and we move in t-shirts unencumbered by gloves or hats or fleece. At 3,000 feet, one hour later, we are six inches deep in wet snow and icy rain blows off snow-covered trees and we are forced to wear heavy rain gear and traction. At 4,000 feet, at the ridge, we huff through ankle-deep slush that pours down off Mt. Moosilauke in a river of brown, deep mud. At the summit, 4,802 feet, the wind blows in 20-30 mile per hour sustained gusts and we must duck down behind the rime ice encrusted ruins of the old summit lodge to keep, it feels, from flying off the mountain.

Our whole Grape Nuts Fit Summit Sampler hike is a challenging workshop in contrasting conditions. We literally face every type of weather. It is a difficult day, and an amazing, beautiful one.

Showing off our Grape Nuts flags at the summit.

Showing off our Grape Nuts flags at the summit.

Above tree-line, the sun beats down on us from a deep blue sky as we struggle against the wind. Tough Cookie holds her arms out and laughs, wide-eyed, as the gusts threaten to lift her off the ground, flapping wildly against her pink jacket.

Janelle’s 2nd 4,000 footer (the 10th highest mountain in New Hampshire) throws it all at us, and we let it, grinning and working hard all the way up. On a day like today, you can’t fight against the mountain. We just shake our heads, and absorb what it sends.

Our job is to hand out Grape Nuts Fit sample boxes. We’ve stuffed Janelle’s new Grape Nuts pack full of them and half-expect it to be difficult to give it all away. It’s not. Perhaps it’s the nutty conditions that put everyone in a good mood. Maybe it’s just that getting free snacks on the trail is a welcome treat. But nearly everyone takes them, and laughs along with us at how preposterous it is that here we are – on behalf of Grape Nuts – giving away samples, on a day like today, out of this little girl’s black and purple back pack.

The day rolls on, and we take our time; partly because of conditions and partly because it’s been a while since we attempted a hike of this nature and are out of shape. Our muscles are slow to respond. But Tough Cookie weathers the happy ordeal in typical fashion. She’s by far the youngest hiker on the mountain this day and is greeted with a mix of awe and disbelief by fellow hikers.

I joke with Janelle, and tell her to not let it get to her head. “Let what get to my head?” she says on the way back down. “I’m really tired!”

Big drifts on the way up!

Big drifts on the way up!

She lets out a bunch of fake ughs and sighs and at one point during a break she even lays down on the comfy soil to rest. She is tired, but mainly she’s just being a ham.

By the time we reach the car, her pack is nearly empty of samples and we are all soaked and muddy. But we all grin foolishly at each other, share high fives and hugs and await the inevitable happy creep of sore knees and shoulders.

It’s summer now. In less than two weeks, Janelle and I will set out on a different kind of pilgrimage as we take our story to readers far and wide across New England. Days like this will be become more precious, and perhaps, rare. But 4,000-footer #2 is a good one. Moosilauke put on quite a show, and the Grape Nuts flowed like slush from a mountain.

For our full album from the journey, click here: Grape Nuts Moosilauke Hike

Short Step and Tough Cookie

Short Step and Tough Cookie

Categories: NH 4,000-footers, White Mountain Hikes | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Epilogue and #1: Waumbek

Janelle with the amazing Herr ladies near the summit of Mt. Waumbek.

Janelle with the amazing Herr ladies near the summit of Mt. Waumbek.

Waumbek is a whisper.

Upon reaching her first 4,000 footer, after this past year of triumphs, open spaces and spectacular landscapes, Janelle stands for a moment at the viewless summit looking at the snowy cairn marking the top. Her friends Alex and Sage are already settling in, digging into their packs for snacks. They’ve reached many such summits before and are familiar with the satisfaction of a below tree-line goal.

“Congrats, kid-o,” I say, “you’re now 6 feet over 4,000 feet, the highest you’ve ever been.”

She wants to ask me where the heck is the view? Later, she will timidly ask just how many 4,000 footers are below treeline. Instead, for now, she smiles and says, “thanks!” The joy of the 52 With a View list is that every reward, on every hike, is external. There is some view, somewhere, waiting on every hike.

The 4,000 footer list? Well, let’s just say you have to find inner peace on some of those hikes. That’s another lesson for another time. And in the end, I don’t even know if Janelle is interested in pursuing the 4,000 footers. I suspect she’ll hike with me wherever I take her, but just as our quest for the 52 was a mutual project, I want our next “list’ to be mutual as well.

So, for now, the girls celebrate Janelle’s accomplishment with candy bars and cookies. And we all head down the trail a ways and do find a nice view near the summit. Gray Jays buzz above our heads, little blurs. For some reason, they do not land on our hands today. That’s a joy that will have to wait for Janelle.

The others leave us at this lookout, and I have a few moments to watch the girl as she tries to attract the birds, standing there atop her highest mountain, all 52 (plus 1) peaks behind us. I try to be in the now, but I fail. The future is calling.

“Ready to go?” I ask.

She takes a deep breath, wipes her gloved hands and turns away from the view. “Yeah.”

A moment of reflection near the summit of Mt. Waumbek.

A moment of reflection near the summit of Mt. Waumbek.


What’s next for Buffalo and Tough Cookie: Janelle has already expressed interest in the Terrifying 25, and I have Trish, Alex and Sage to thank for that. This is a list of 25 of the most difficult and exposed trails in the White Mountains. In the year that we have been hiking, Janelle and I have hiked only one on the list, The Percy Peaks Trail. The list was developed by Trish and her girls, and I suspect Janelle is interested because of them. There’s nothing wrong with that, her friendship with Alex and Sage has been a positive force in her hiking and her life. But, she’s a long way off from tackling some of those trails. You can read about the list on Trish’s blog, here: The Terrifying 25

For now, winter has arrived, Janelle’s first for big mountain hiking and we have several goals for this winter season.

Learn how to snowshoe: In order to do anything else on the winter list, this has to be a priority. There’s plenty of local parks where we can practice, that is if it ever snows in Manchester again.

Lonesome Lake Hut: Janelle has never visited a full-on AMC Hut AND she wants to hike across a frozen lake. So this hike is a no-brainer.

Flume Gorge: We both love frozen waterfalls, and she wants to see ice climbers. So, a hike down to the lovely Flume Gorge is on tap.

One winter 4,000 footer: She’s done one and there are several 4,000 footers out there where the views and hike actually improves in the winter. Tecumseh. Tom. Pierce. Perhaps even Moosilauke. They are all within her ability.

Urban exploration: We both love exploring the unusual and off-the-beaten-path trails around Southern New Hampshire. Adventure is where you find it, and we plan on looking hard.

The book: It’s all hands on deck now as we prepare for the release of the book and (hopefully) all the events that will come out of that. Stay tuned here and on our Facebook page for updates and info on presentations as we’d love to meet you all!

Our supporters, friends and fans: Thank you! You all have energized us with your support and we can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend. Find peace, and keep hiking your own hike!

Ever onward! Photo courtesy Tish Herr.

Ever onward! Photo courtesy Tish Herr.

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

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: