I am just about ready to go I just need to jump in the shower and throw some last food items in my pack. I avoid coffee and just head to the commuter lot in Sagamore. I need to be there no later than 4am.
27 of us hop on board this bus and as soon as attendance is taken the lights go out and we are napping once again. I struggle between my love of seeing the sun come up and getting a few hours sleep but I crash out in Kingston just as the sun is rising.
When I next open my eyes I see a sign declaring Exit 16. It is about 6:20 and we are in New Hampshire. Yahoo!!
Carl, the organizer, starts to serve coffee, homemade muffins and fruit to all of us as we stretch and wake up. This is shaping up to be an incredible day weather wise.
We broke into groups depending on our goal and speed. I am in the group that is going to attempt to make it to Lakes in the Clouds hut. Once we get to the Crawford Trailhead it states Lakes is 7 miles one-way. We quickly all agree that this is just not going to happen in the time we are allotted but we agree we will go as far as we can.
The rules for the day are stay in your group or if you must break off stay in pairs. Also no matter where you are the turn around point is 12:10.
The beginning of the trail is woods and woods and beautiful but tough. I am about a mile in when I realize that this trip sucks.
Surprised? I am too.
At this point all the groups are still mostly all together besides the runners who are out front somewhere. A man steps out of a side trail and says oh there is a beautiful waterfall over there but the group just keeps marching up. Oh Hell, I don't hike like this. The trail is rocky and root covered and climbing so all my focus is on this and not the woods, sunshine or waterfall that I can clearly hear but missed. Part of the plan is to stop at the Mizpah hut for a break and water fill up if needed and I just decide right there that I will call it a day there. One of the groups was planning on just that. It is 2.7 miles to this hut and I will chill-lax right the fuck there until 2pm and hike back down. This is not the hike I want to do. I do not want to be a machine hiker. Miles aren't my first objective and I forgot that for a minute or I should say for a mile.
Hike your own hike.
I have seen photos of these hut and dreamed of planning a hike and staying in one but I was still surprised by it's size. The inside was huge and had rooms with 5 bunks each. The dining room was open and 2 stories tall with exposed steel beams. A man in an apron was kneading dough to bake bread and a girl answered our questions as she made up the board for dinner and snacks they were offering. Mizpah sleeps 61 people and was booked full on this gorgeous Saturday.
Once we have a break, snack and talk a bit I realize I am now with just a small group of 7 logical
souls and I am grateful. 1 couple includes a woman who is enjoying herself but needs extra support from her poles and more time. They decide to follow our route but tell us to press on without them and they will travel at their own speed.
I am told that we have tackled a good portion of the elevation and things should be a little better from here on out.
I am glad everyone in this group has a sense of humor. We set off on the short jump trail from the hut back to Crawford and it just was rock scrambling up and up and round another corner of up. I quickly call over my shoulder that "Will is a Liar!" which makes us all laugh. Later I heard from others on the bus that this part of the trail was probably one of the roughest in everyone's opinion. About half the hikers and the running group skipped this pit stop to Mizpah. I am glad I took the break but that trail was challenging.
The reason I continued is I was told we would be above treeline shortly and I didn't want to miss that.
The view started to improve and I was back in my happy place. After a boot mishap with another group member we were now down to a group of 3. Will an avid hiker with tons of knowledge of this hike and Dave who I think was new to hiking in this area but a hiker all the same.
Next stop-Summit of Mount Pierce.
BOOM! I have my first 4000 footer under my belt. I worked hard for it and now ahead of us is open ridge trail headed to Mt Eisenhower. In the photo above Eisenhower is in the center and Mt Washington is the tallest just to it's right. Very clear here that we will not be getting close to that as it is already 11AM but we press on.
The views are beautiful and I move to the back of our 3 pack so I can slow down and look as often as I can. The pic above is the view as we start to make our way up Eisenhower. Can we Summit it and turn around in 20 minutes? Will does it as he is a pretty fast hiker but at the bottom of a set of stairs I call it for me for the day. The stairs are built into the Mountain in places were the grade is pretty steep and my fear of heights and exhaustion is kicking in. I park my bottom on a ledge to the side of the stairs and eat my lunch. Dave is seated at the top but I can't seem to get up those stairs. I mean I will just have to climb back down. In what seems like minutes Will is back and he says Oh, the Summit wasn't as far as I thought.
I will not hate on myself. I can add this to my life long bucket list and to be safe you must always be okay with calling it a day even if you are within arms length of the Summit. I need to remember that I have to hike all the way back now.
These are the views from my lunch perch. Yesterday I came upon one of my photos and was surprised by it.
Like I took that. I was there. I got there by my own 2 feet.
On the way back we took the route around Pierce's peak thinking it would save us that rough trail but honestly it was still pretty rough. We leap frogged with a couple and their dog so it kept our chatter and spirits up.
We had extra time so my partners were more than happy to make the side trip to Givbs Falls on our way back and we sat at the back cooling off and enjoying it's views.
We made it back on time about 4pm but were delayed by the dozen or so who did make it all the way to the Summit to MountWashington. They mostly ran it and I am happy for them but I am also happy with the 10 miles I covered. Once I found my pace and the right mix of people it was a good time. I will return and hike at my pace with no time limit well at least a plan more geared to my liking but I am very happy I decided to do this.