Sunday, July 15, 2018

Monroe on the Fly

 In my quest to open myself up and find my Tribe, I find I have met quite a few interesting people via the Internet. One of which suggested this spot to catch the sunset last Wednesday night. Being a person who lives in a tourist town I know you should always ask a local for the good spots!!
This one did not disappoint. It was surprisingly chilly as I traveled through 80 degree and was only in shorts, a t-shirt and bare feet.
 I woke up early. I had set an alarm but didn't want to wake anyone else in the room. 5:25 I tiptoed out of the hostel with a breakfast sandwich in my hand. I had a 45 minute drive to the trail and was super worried about time. I love it in the mountains in the morning. Like the sun hasn't reached all the crevices yet. This is Franconia Parkway and the sun was just warming the top of Cannon.
I wanted to park in the same place where we parked in November and when I arrived there were already a few cars there. The top lot cut off about .5 miles. The trailhead is  not so clearly marked on the map I had and I had no memory of where we entered but I remembered a trail sign and kiosk with a map.. As I am aimlessly walking around the Cog Railway lot I am approached by a man driving a Gator who informs me that I need to pay to park. I learned that the lower lot was White Mountain Forest and I could use my parking sticker but up here I was on Cog land and they wanted their $10.
So in true Fooseberry fashion I found the one thing I had forgotten to bring ( there is always 1 thing but it changes every trip). I got back in my car and drove all the way down Base Rd to an ATM for cash. Sure I could have parked in the lower lot but I needed cash for the Hut. They sell the most delicious soup and baked good but you must have cash!!
 So about 45 minutes later I finally get to the trail. The temp when I set out was about 42. Yes, it's July and I am happy and prepared. The Ammonoosuc Ravine trail afforded me a lot of time to waterfalls. I stepped off the trail and took a bazillion photos and hopefully chose the best ones for this post.

 This is the Gem Pool. I was torn between wanting to sit in it and enjoy and thinking I wouldn't want to ruin it. The photo below is the trail as it crosses over the pool.

 I didn't have my usual printed map from the WMGO and I didn't look at my other 4000 footer guide so I didn't have the skinny on sights to be looking for but on a whim I see a side trail with a large tree across it. I figure WTH, let's look.
Holy Falls! This phot is only 1 but there were 2 and they came down into the coolest pool and then proceeded past me. I climbed all over the place trying to get it all into 1 photo but it was too large and the view point too close.
 There are a few side effects of hiking in New Hampshire. Some are good and some are not so good but one is that you are always looking down. The trails are tough sometimes. This time I am still in awe of these falls and I see this little fella. I held him in my hand and he was about the size of a half dollar. I moved him to the side and went on my way.

 I have mixed feelings about this picture. I understand the history of trains, the development of the White Mountains because of them but I also know that today it's more about modern business so I was a little annoyed to see the plumes of black smoke, the noise they generated as they opened for business and the smell as I came back down and it was trapped in the ravine far from the tracks. 
 After the Gem pool this trail becomes all business. The stones may be formed into stairs but they at points don't feel like they are taking you to heaven. I do know it will feel like heaven if I make it to the Hut and then to the Summit. The sky is looking grey and I want to get this done and back to tree line if it turns it's cheek on me. This is my view from the bench outside Lakes of the Clouds. ALmost there.
 Mother Nature has a sense of humor if you pay attention. Like cresting this trail and seeing the real Summit ahead if you keep following the cairns. I didn't mind though. The view was amazing. The trail dotted with tiny white flowers and bees. I was amazed at the bees buzzing around them.
 And here I am atop my 28th mountain. Actually it is way more than that because this is just a stupid list I am working on but I have been to many more before I was so list oriented and I just realized that as I am typing.
God, I've probably hiked 40 mountains.
See I was going to delete this photo that a fellow hiker offered to take of me. "Climb up on that flat rock so we can get the Lakes and Mount Washington in the picture." Self critical of my speed, shape, ability. Instead of the fact that I am on my 28th 4000 foot mountain and I will be on many more. I am forgetting why I do this and it isn't to be the fastest but to stand in awe of the beauty.

 I'm thinking there was a marker but a human did what they do once again.
 The trip back down was slow. The knee injury from last year is coming back slowly but it's there. Running and Mountains are proving to be kicking this old ladies ass this week but I refuse to quit. I have places to go.

I found this memorial cool. A man had died in the area in 1928. As I stand here in full expensive gear imagining what there trails would be like in those conditions I am amazed. The 4000-Footers of the White Mountains tells some of the history of these trails and it is pretty amazing. Get a copy if you can find it.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Kinsmans and a sleepover

I have been throwing around the idea of a long hike this Summer with 2 nights staying at tent sites along the trail. Easier said than done. I don't think I have the correct equipment but really how do I know because I have never even tried. I am part of a great women's hiking group on Facebook. A member posted about getting over the fear of backpacking alone. I had also posted asking for pictures of other peoples packs loaded for such a trip. 
I spent a couple days following both threads. One of the best comments was to think about what you are afraid of and handle that. 
What exactly am I afraid of? 
1. Proper handling of food and smells as to not attract animals. Okay, so the campsite has a bear box. Handled!
2. Ability, equipment, knowledge. Okay, I read, I googled, I brought maps, trail descriptions, went through all my equipment and it seems I do have what I need. Now the only real way to handle this fear is to DO IT!
So I packed up and just started to go with this is what I am doing and didn't think much else about it. 
The morning of I needed a few things and tried to find a store, that took me miles past the trail head, then when I was returning I missed the exit and ended up in such a deep fog I started to get nervous. 
Re-coop! I drove back to the trail head much later than I wanted. Checked the weather again and saw a full lot. We are doing it.
I arrived in the lot about 9:15 and as I saw a new group introducing themselves I realized they were doing the same thing I was.
I was entering the woods past this sign at 9:25.

I didn't take as many photos as I usually do as I have been having issues with battery power on my phone but this was just too cool to pass up. The brook was beautiful and you can see the trail just meandering through the woods to the right.
I had a pretty dry beginning but soon it was muddy, slippery rock and roots and a bit of foggy mist for the 3.7 miles up. I encountered maybe 4-6 groups of 2 making their way up and everybody asked where I planned on staying. I kept me moving slowly but forward. My goal was to stay just ahead of that large group. Thankfully hikers are helpful with passing info. Tent sites are first come, first serve.

And I made it to the ridge trail by 12.40. I skipped the Bald Knob thinking I would hit it on the way home. So glad I did this because it was the most incredible place to have breakfast and if I had gone on Saturday I would have just seen clouds.
Although the peaks I wanted to reach were South I headed North. I figured I would secure a tent platform and lower my load a bit. Interesting little place this Kinsman Pond Shelter and Tent Site was. There was a group site and a site for the caretaker ( which was empty). As I walked father in the trail split. Right to the shelter, water, pit toilet. Left took you to the 3 tent platforms. I chose the smallest one and started setting up. Moments later a group came up the trail and asked about the caretaker and the open spots. 2 men took the site over mine and set up shop with 2 hammocks. The other man set up his hammock just down the trail from me.
As soon as I unloaded the bedding I set out to bag my peaks.
North Kinsman was about half a mile ahead. The trail was busy. I would say it was the busiest trail I've been on besides Franconia Ridge. After North I kept moving as South was .9 miles ahead and I was tired. I found a spot to sit on the side of the trail and heat some water for both a cup of coffee and to eat some real food. I packed the food to rehydrate and eat later and drank some coffee while I met a group doing a 13 mile trek. During our chat it was learned they were from Sandwich! 1 man lives in New Hampshire now and his friends come up and hike. What are the chances!
I was glad I took photo copies of the pages about the Kinsmans from The 4000 Footers of the White Mountains guide. It lists details on the trail and distances which helps alot. Like walk past the small cairn on South Kinsman because just past it is the Big Mama below. It literally has a seat built in so you too can be Queen of the Mountain if you want.
I made it to South peak about 3:30 and just laid down. There were a group of people all over the cairn eating. I think people do this to claim a little of the spirit of a Summit. It's energy, their accomplishment. I don't know but you want to own some time there. I waited while the Cape Codders took all their pictures and they offered to take mine. I never really get photos of myself on these solo trips so I'll take it when I can.
On my way back I got some glimpses of the mountains as the clouds lifted. It was a little of the lift I needed. I also tried to locate the "Large boulder on the left" that was the official summit of North and looked over the cliff as now it had opened up a bit.

Once back at the campground I found the group of 10 had taken over the 2 large platforms out front. A group of young dudes had claimed the shelter. I took my food down to the pond and soaked my feet as I ate my cold dinner. The sky was clearing and the view was like no other....except maybe others in the White Mountains of course.

I killed time after dinner. I knew if I laid down I would be asleep and didn't want to wake up at 3am. Turns out it wasn't that hard. This campground was a party. The group of 10 laughed and loudly talked. I found there was no bear box and the food thing was stressing me out. Luckily I was prepared. I had all smelly items in my food bag and I walked away from the sites and just hung it.
I decided 7:30 was good enough and I would read for a bit. Ha! Old ladies get tired when they go exploring. So that didn't take long. Not long after I fell asleep the 2 guys above me determined their hammocks weren't hung correctly and had to make adjustments with headlamps shining in my eye only a dozen times or so. LOL! I will say I wasn't scared here 1 bit. Too noisy for animals. Too nice for troublemakers.
As it turns out the I was awoken by another party animal-BIRDS! and sunshine. I could hear the guys above rumbling and I was not exactly comfortable. It brought me back to Girl Scout camping. Might as well get up and get moving.
After retrieving my untouched food bag I got some water started while I broke down camp. I slept like crap so I wasn't moving very fast. I added water to some chili mac and packed it away for a breakfast down the road and ate a granola bar and coffee.
I was packed up and on my way out by 7am. Not a soul could be heard from the shelter and the group was just unzipping their doors as I went by. The hammock guys came up right behind me. Their goal was to hit the peaks and what a good choice they made. The day was shaping up beautifully.
The hike out of that camp isn't long but its a tough couple tenths of a mile going up and quickly I discovered how bad my breakfast choice was. I was already breaking out in a sweat and couldn't find my groove.
I met the Mt Kinsman Trail in about 15 minutes and I knew it was 3.7 miles down from here. The thoughts of beauty, sunshine and getting to the beach with my daughters as soon as I got home fueled my decent. I decided to hit Bald Peak and eat breakfast.
.2 miles up! Really, this better be good.
It was better than good. It was a 270 degree tree and mountain bounty. I experienced my first few bugs too.
The trail was so gorgeous. Mossy, green and beautiful. 
My goal for this hike started off as-Can I do 10 miles? Then I shelved that to Can I backpack it?
As I was walking out I realized a whole lot of things.
I backpacked it. I need to tweak my set up but all in all I did it with no major issues.
I hiked 10 miles. Somehow with the overnight I was thinking it would be one or the other but really I did both!
My tent got a lot of questions in the groups I'm in and guess what? It's fine. No one cares what you have. People had shit strapped on their pack in all different ways and people pack what they believe they need. It isn't any of my business just as it isn't worry what I have.
So I might be carrying that giant sleep pad if I ever want a good nights sleep on trail but just know that I will be doing this again.
Cabot sounds like a good plan.
P.S. This makes #26 North Kinsman, #27 South Kinsman and #1 Backpack.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

On your mark, get set, go!

I can't really explain it but I like a good number for a race.  Having a name at the beginning of the alphabet sometimes helps so when I picked up my race packet on Friday and got this number I will admit it gave me some pep in my step.
I have run this race 3 times before but I knew this year would be different.
The last email I received explained they expected about 1000 runners and with walk in registration unto about 15 minutes before the start they reached approx. 1400. It was amazing really. People came not to run in a 5K but to be part of the whole event. There were a huge addition of walkers. Even though dogs were not welcome due to the race size some came and you couldn't even say a word.
K9's came to honor our k9.
K9 Officers and their partners covered all the cross roads on the route and not just local guys but Officers from various departments in Southeastern Massachusetts. 

As I tried to hear the speeches about Sgt Gannon I expected to be sad but really I was proud. Proud to show support for these officers who give all they have to their job. Grateful to the people who came out and walked, cheered and waved flags.

I came in at 37:37.
It is a respectable time, right in the middle of my previous 5k times. I haven't actually participated in a 5K in 3 years. I had forgotten that. It's a good starting place for the year that's for sure.
Oh and this....I loved this. These women were the anchor to the race and they had a decent police following to help them finish. I was sure to call out that they were doing a great job as I too have been the anchor of this race. They were full of smiles and waves and that is what it should be about right?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Compass Rose, errrr Emma.

Pardon the title but there is going to be some snarky sarcasm with this post.
A while back I found a link to a Compass Class. I had been wanting to do one but was looking for something more than the REI in store class and less than the $200 full day class.
BINGO! This class was great.
It was offered by She Jumps which is an organization that helps women get outdoors. This class was being offered by the NH Chapter and it was only $10. RIGHT !?!? It included a couple hours inside and then we went down the road to a local conservation and tried it hands on.

 It was very basic and I will definitely need to keep practicing but I would say I did my first few .2 mile bushwhacks and made it out alive with only a few scratches. LOL!

 The side story which I can laugh about now but not so much on Saturday.
As I said this was a women only class but there were a few kids there as well. When a man came in I was like huh? but realized he brought 2 girls and a wife.
Not long after this I should have known where this was headed when the instructor had to ask him to stop talking so she could. See, these parents brought a 9 and 12 year old but they were taking the class themselves so I guess they thought they could chat. The girls didn't have the correct compass even though it was explained in each of the multiple emails we received about supplies needed for the class. When we grouped up to share maps and brainstorm they didn't group with their own kids but let them join myself and another woman who I learned was a school teacher. Instead of adding new knowledge we both reverted to basic facts explained to these 2 kids who really knew nothing about map reading.
Once they explained the small lot at the trail head myself and a 2nd woman agreed to carpool with this family to save space. Again, if I had only known....
So as we arrive at the lot Mom says to the girls "Just text us and we will pick you up."
Ummm, what??
They sprayed them with bug spray and left them with us.
At this point I became some other kid's mother. She didn't listen ,ran and fell and never looked at the compass. I slowly began to steam. I didn't come to be their mother.
When we got to the Cliff's above for lunch I realized that by jumping in with them I had forgotten my lunch in my car.
Can you say Last Straw?
After lunch the organizers made the decision that the kids would hike out and if anyone wanted to call it a day they could go as well. Anyone wanting more time out would continue with the AMC guides.
I called it a day. It wasn't the organizers fault but I mean really Mom? You thought this was okay?
The positive part was we just hiked out on a trail so I got to chat with another woman about hiking which always makes me happy. The 2 girls ran ahead not needing any guidance until 1 of them fell yet again.
 The end result is this-I got to be outside. I'm learning skills to be safer outside. I have more knowledge than I give myself credit for.

Race Results

09/07/07 Main Street Mile 11:44
05/18/08 YPD 5k 52:57 17:05
06/14/08 Walpole Village 5K 35:27 11:26
06/21/08 Mashpee Fun Run 34:21 11:05
07/19/08 Mashpee Woodlands 36.49 11:52
08/10/08 Falmouth Road Race 1:29:31
08/25/08 Women Running Wild 35:40 11:30
10/25/08 Mashpee Firefighters 37:47 12:10
05/02/09 Cape Abilities 5K 34:59 11:17
05/17/09 YPD 5K 36:41 11:50
08/09/09 Falmouth Road Race 7mi 1:37
10/31/09 Mashpee Firefighters 5K 37:15 12:00
09/11/11 Main Street Mile 12:31
10/29/11 Screech to the Beach 5K 39.13 12:20
08/12/12 Falmouth Road Race 1:34:24 13:29
05/18/14 YPD 5k 44.25 14:17
06/1/14 June Jog 4mi 1:04 16:00
08/17/14 Falmouth Road Race 1:42:04 14:35
09/27/14 Girly Girl 5K 37:24 12:02
10/26/14 Pell Bridge Run 4mi 48:41 12:10
11/27/14 Turkey Trot in VA 5K 35:22 11:23
12/06/14 Jingle Jog 5K 34:42 11:11
03/29/15 Thomas Guinta Memorial 5K 34:14 11:03
04/19/15 St. Margaret's 5K 31:11 10:21
05/17/15 YPD Blues 5K 34:58 11:17
06/07/15 Newport 10 Miler 1:56:09 11:36
06/20/15 Mackenzie's 5K 33:55 10:54
08/17/14 Falmouth Road Race 1:33:51 13:24
10/31/15 Screech at the Beach 36:19 11:40
5/20/18 YPD Run to Remember 37.37 12:08
9/19/18 Falmouth Road Race 1:35:06 13:35