Posts Tagged With: 52WAV

#46 Paugus: Excerpt

One of the “easier” blowdown sections on the Old Paugus Trail.

There is no getting around the blowdowns. Four hours into what is supposed to be a three-peak circuit in the Sandwich Wilderness, Janelle and I are faced with a seemingly impossible-to-solve puzzle. We are too far into the hike to turn around, especially since going back would require a steep decent in choppy conditions off the south end of Paugus cliff. But ahead of us the trail is destroyed.

Hurricane Sandy had swirled through two days earlier and the Old Paugus Trail is, in this section, gone; as though the hand of a giant had swished across the range, brushing over four and five-inch thick trees like toothpicks. I cannot not see the continuation of the trail on the other side of the enormous, perhaps valley-wide, blowdown.

“What do we do?” Janelle asks. I sense her frustration, and feel my own. It has already been a tiring hike. The day is raw and windy. Three summits is now out of the question, which puts our pre-Thanksgiving finish in danger.

But even more disturbing is the problem immediately facing us in the form of what appears to be the obliteration of the trail.

I slip off my pack and gulp down some water. Then, I push on the cluster of fallen trees in front of us, checking for give. There is none, which is good. It means the blowdown directly in front at least is fully down and won’t collapse on us.

“Take off your pack,” I say. “We have to create a path.”

The slope to our right is too steep to go down and back around and the up-slope to our left is too dangerous to attempt. So, the girl and I slowly begin snapping off branches on the trees in our path, trying to create a window among the trunks. That’s grueling work. After a while we have enough of an opening to slip through. We zig and zag in and out and under the trees, snapping branches in some places, crawling on our hands and knees in others, until an opening appears ahead.

After 30 minutes of work we step through onto the path and come face to face with another, bigger, section of blowdown. And beyond that, more.

“Well, at least if anybody hikes this after us, they’ll have an easier time,” Janelle says.

“Yup, let’s get to work.”

Mt. Paugus (11/3/12)

Height: 3,198 feet

Location: Sandwich. I-93 north to Exit 24 to Route 3 east to Route 113 east to Route 113A north to trailhead on left.

Our trailhead: Big Rock Cave Trail to Old Paugus Trail to Lawrence Trail to Cabin Trail, loop.

Distance: 8.4 miles.

Categories: Excerpts and 52WAV Mountain Stats | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

We did it! A joyful finale to a memorable journey!

Epic adventures are about the people you meet. We were fortunate and honored to become friends with Sage and Alex Herr, two amazing young ladies with joyful souls. The three became fast friends. Along with their mom, Trish, and our good friend, Steve, they accompanied us on our final hike up Mt. Starr King.

We did it! Janelle and I climbed them. The 52 WAV are complete! On Sunday, Nov. 11, at 10:45 a.m. Janelle stepped up onto Mt. Starr King and completed an amazing quest that began one year and six days ago when we first set off on this journey of discovery across New Hampshire.

We laughed. Alot. And we cried a little too. Mostly, we learned about each other and about ourselves. We are better friends.

And now, we’re taking our story to you.

Honestly, we have no idea what the heck we’re going to say. But tomorrow, as we gather at the Woman’s Club of Concord and munch on trail mix and PB&Js with the kind ladies who invited us, we begin a new chapter in our amazing adventure. Stop by. We’d love to meet you and hear about your own adventures. We’ll be there from 5:30 to 7 p.m. (Chamberlin House, 44 Pleasant St., Concord NH 03301).

The next couple weeks will be spent with our families, sharing this great journey with them and being thankful for their support. We’ll unpack, rest, look over our pictures and let the events of this past year reach some mellow peace in our minds. After Thanksgiving, we’ll be back with the series of final vignettes, as well as announcements regarding upcoming appearances. (And knowing us, there will be more adventures squeezed in there as well!)

I’ll have more pics and a slide show in the next few days. And perhaps I’ll have a little excerpt about our final hike. But for tonight, as I thought about this great weekend, I wanted to find the picture that best summed up this past year. I can find no better image than the above shot of Janelle, Sage and Alex.

Keep hiking your own hike my friends. Today we rest, tomorrow we begin a new adventure. Stay tuned, the best is certainly yet to come!

Buffalo and Tough Cookie celebrate number 52 at the old fireplace atop Mt. Starr King. What a fine journey!

Categories: Press and Promotion, Updates and Plans | Tags: , | 17 Comments

#44 & 45 Middle Sister and Chocorua: Excerpt

Tough Cookie takes in the views from near the summit of Mt. Chocorua.

Author’s note: Today, as New Hampshire rests and we all breath a sigh of relief that Sandy seems to have passed through the state without too much hardship, I thought I’d offer our readers an extended excerpt from our recent hike up Middle Sister and Chocorua. This hike was a watershed moment for us, where all our effort and training these past few months played out. Janelle and I agree that Chocorua was our favorite mountain on our journey thus far. Thoughts go out to our friends in the mid-Atlantic. Stay safe and dry everyone! Onward!


Janelle blows by two hikers like they are standing still.

The enormous summit block of Chocorua rises before us like a granite castle, hard rock seemingly shooting straight up like grey seracs. A stiff wind rolls up out of the valley, gaining velocity as it creeps up the side of the mountain. Atop one ledge, the wind hits us and I watch her hobble for a split second before planting a pole, ducking her head and regaining her balance. She’s learning how to do this, how to readjust to changing, and challenging, conditions.

She loves rock. She asks on every hike if there is any scrambling. Now, Janelle has a full quarter-mile of nearly nothing but rock – exposed and sheer – to play on. I work hard to keep pace.

In some areas the trail takes us up and over ledges that are eye level on her. But we work together. The wind is too loud to hear each other, but after 44 mountains we know each other well enough to not need to talk. She’ll toss me her poles, use her hands, then I’ll toss them up to her. In one instance, she waits before climbing up a ledge and I realize she wants me to plant myself below, in case she slips.

It is a solid 30 minutes of trail dance as the girl and I duck and dodge and shimmy up this mountain, on top of the world, at the top of our game. Two months ago, she could not have done this. I would not have let her try. But now, we’ve reached that moment that hikers always long to feel, where the hike is effortless, where you are so in the moment with the trail that there are no aches or pains, no worries. Only joy.

We spin like this around the base of the summit rock, and she skitters ahead of me toward the summit. There, near the top, we encounter reality.

“Wow, guess you’re going to be mad at your dad later for dragging you up here, huh?”

Working the ledges of Chocorua, Tough Cookie gets epic!

The man near the summit directs his question at Janelle. The question is so abrupt and sharp, the girl freezes. At nearly 3,500 feet in howling wind, fully exposed to the elements, I’m not interested in engaging anyone in a long explanation so I ignore the “dad” part and make light of the comment. “Nah, she’s the one dragging me up here. She kicked my butt all the way up!”

But he won’t let it go.

“You ever been here before? First mountain?” Again, he addresses Janelle. She shakes her head no to both questions.

“We’re working on the 52 With a View list, we’re nearly done,” I say, sidling up next to her. “Let’s go find some shelter from this wind and get a bite to eat, kiddo!”

We stop at the glorious summit for a moment, then drop down to a lower rock shelf that breaks the wind. But he’s not done.

“You know, if you go down the summit area about 100 yards or so,” he points south, “you can find some shelter.”

All I can think is that 100 yards off the summit is no longer the summit. “We like the views,” I say pleasantly.

“Great views from down there as well,” he says.

“We’re good. Thanks.” I put an edge to my tone which he appears to hear as he doesn’t bother us again. And soon, there are half a dozen other hikers at the summit and we’re forgotten.

Janelle and I lean back against the rocks and sip chicken noodle soup out of a thermos, and all is again right with the world. After a little while, she says, “That guy, there was something wrong with him.”

“Guess he was a little creepy, huh? I’m sorry if he ruined your hike.”

“What? Why would he do that?” she says. “This has been my favorite!”

A hiking friend of mine once suggested that to some adults, after spending hours huffing and puffing their way up a mountain, seeing a child at the top deflates their own sense of accomplishment. Bursts their bubble, so to speak. We’ve been lucky, Janelle and I, surrounded by family and friends and a hiking community that is genuinely enthusiastic and encouraging about our quest.

And now, as we sit at the top of Chocorua with the waves of wind from approaching hurricane Sandy bursting like tiny explosions over the mountain’s bald top, the end is in sight. In two weekends, if all goes well, we’ll tag the summit of Starr King together and then… what?

For now, though, this is enough.

Atop Middle Sister, Tough Cookie does not appear to have been “dragged” anywhere!

Middle Sister and Mt. Chocorua (10/28/12)

Heights: 3,340 and 3,500 feet

Location: North Conway, off the Kanc. Route 93 north to Exit 32 Route 112 (The Kanc) to The Champney Falls Trailhead on the south side of the road.

Our trailhead: Champney Falls Trail to Middle Sister Cutoff to Middle Sister, then the Middle Sister Trail to Piper Trail to summit. On the return, straight down the Champney Falls Trail.

Distance: 8.1 miles.

Categories: Excerpts and 52WAV Mountain Stats | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

#42 & 43 South and North Moat: Excerpt

Tough Cookie tackles the big slabs near the summit of North Moat.

I stand there, irritated, waiting for Janelle to catch up. Despite the long day and the big miles, I know she can move faster. I need her to move faster, but I’m running out of ideas to motivate.

“Look ahead of us,” I tell her. We are about a mile from the car, the trail is flat and we’re warm. But, we’ve already hiked nine miles, and the Moats beat both of us up. Now, deep erosion grooves cut through and around the trail leaving deep sitting water in our path. Leaves cover any obvious tracks. Blazes are far and few between. We have 20 minutes, tops, of daylight left. “Can you find the trail?”

She peers into the trees for a moment. “I have no idea,” she grumbles.

“What will we do, here, if it gets dark?” I ask. “Imagine how much harder this will be for us.”

Janelle takes a deep breath and I can see the lines of concern. She understands it’s important for us to step it up, but she’s tired. There’s no tears, no early teenage frustration. She’s just tired and lowers her head.

I close my eyes for a moment and try to re-focus.

“Ok, listen,” I lift her chin up, “we have headlamps, we have food. I know how strong you are. Can you hurry for the next five or ten minutes and help me find our way through all this water? Things will get better after this.”

She nods and offers a weak smile. “Ok.” We set off into the darkening unknown.

South and North Moat mountains (10/27/12)

Heights: 2,770 and 3,196 feet

Location: North Conway. Route 93 north to Exit 23 to Route 104 east to Route 25 northeast to Route 16 north to West Side Road north (for 0.7 miles) to Passaconaway Road west (for 3.2 miles). We spotted a second car at the other end of the ridge at the Diana’s Baths parking area trailhead.

Our trailhead: Moat Mountain Tail, from south to north.

Distance: 9.7 miles.

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

#41 Smarts: Excerpt

Tough Cookie wishing she was a thru-hiker at the Smarts Mountain cabin.

A raw wind whips through the broken windows of Smarts Mountain lookout tower. Janelle and I are 41 feet in the air, huddled in a corner at the top of the tiny tower cab. I can feel the cab shimmy slightly in the wind. If we stick our heads up too high the wind cuts rights though our fleece like a thousand freezing knives.

While the views are spectacular from this perch, the tower, built in 1939, is not a particularly pleasant place with its graffiti and busted floor boards.

None of that appears to affect the girl in the slightest. This is the first time she’s been able to actually go inside a tower. Kearsarge. Cardigan. Megalloway. The Doublehead and Black cabins. They were all closed when we had been there. But both the thru hiker cabin and the tower are wide open for us today, and she’s in a good mood.

She shucks off her pack and begins to lay out her food and snacks with intense concentration. It’s a picnic then; an outdoor feast at 3,200 feet, in the bitter wind, atop a dilapidated tower with gray clouds and a sleety rain spraying around us.

“Are you warm enough?” I ask as she arranges her sandwich, trail mix and apple.

She doesn’t even look up. “Uh-huh. Can we have some tea?”

“You bet.” I pull the thermos out of my pack, and as I twist it open a thick aroma of orange and ginger tea fills the cab.

“Yum,” she says, and smiles, happily oblivious to the torrent howling around us.

Smarts Mountain (10/21/12)

Height: 3,238 feet

Location: Near Lyme. I-93 to exit 26 to Route 25 to Route 25a to Quinttown Road to Mousley Brook Road, go right just over the bridge and follow a hairpin turn to a gate. The parking area is on the left.

Our trailhead: Daniel Doan Trail up and back.

Distance: 6.4 miles. (Warning: The lower section of the Daniel Doan trail passes by several camps and snowmobile trails. Be careful route finding, in particular when you come to a double bridge. Take the right one.)

Categories: Excerpts and 52WAV Mountain Stats | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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