Thursday, August 31, 2006

#23 Mt. HALE

In 2001 I climbed Hale while piggy-backing my 4-year old up and down this the 4.6 round trip of Mt. Hale. No wonder my only memory of this mountain ammounts to 5 miles of dirt and pebbles I recall from staring at the ground. August 27th was cold, rainy windy and wet. I had first planned to try another hike, ( Owls Head) but switched after setting the "O.H." alarm for 4:30 and looking out the window in Nashua. Rain and fog awaited this day. Plan B was Hale, and I knew I could get up and down it easily, even in the rain. I met some nice people on the trail; Craig the sky diver , Rick, in the bright yellow boots and a hitch hiker from NY, Denny, who reminded me of my red-headed brother. I couldn't stand to see him hitch hiking in the pouring rain so I gave him a lift to the Willey House parking lot. He and I both arrived at the bottom at the Zealand Campground. Denny coming from the Bonds. Wow. All in all, I tagged the pile of rocks on top and swiftly marched back down as fast as my soaking boots could take me. Ruby did not mind getting wet, in fact she now relishes the muddy conditions. For her rugged male peers, I'm sure her "wet dog smell" triggers as an aphrodisiac. For me, and I think for Denny the hitch hiker, it signalled," Whew! That is one dirty dog!" Yesterday, she finally got a bath and was smelling quite fresh . Even sporting a shiny black coat. This was only to be ruined hours later while running in Mines Falls Park where she had to take a dunk at the boat launch. Now she smells like a day old tuna in a blistering heat wave.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006

Waumbek #22

What a wuss. I caved in and bought a knee brace at the Gorham Rite-Aid along with a package of band-aids, along with some bacetracin and cotton balls for the blisters on my poor toes. Ok, so I’m not heading up Moriah today but since I am on Rte 2 I will catch Waumbek and then drive home. It is an overcast day, and I pat myself on the back for not going the extra distance. I will sack Moriah at another time. Waumbek was a fine alternative and I met a very nice couple from Connecticut, Debbie and Mark, who had hiked Mt. Adams the day before. Was I jealous? Adams is my most feared mountain, though I know I must conquer it once more. This hike up Starr Mountain then over to Waumbek was a breeze and we made it to the summit in no time at all. We all took pictures and their company and conversation were awesome. They have 2 boys attending camp in Cape Cod. I talked about my 2 girls and how much excitement is generated on climbing the 48! Oops, I forget to take the unattractive knee brace off and my picture is snapped while wearing it. Oh well. We are back in Nashua at 6:00 pm: just in time for some Mike’s Lemonade Low-Carb Lights and steak on the grill with mushrooms.

18, 19, 20 and 21: Zealand, West Bond, Bond and Bond Cliff

On Friday night I headed up to Twin Mountain after a grueling night at the state liquor store. Lots of Jack Daniels and Kahlua sold. Now that I’ve discovered the smooth taste of Starbucks liqueur, there’s no going back to Kahlua. Starbucks slams Kahluah in taste, quality and price. More bang for your starbuck And ya know, I’m not buying all that Starbucks right –wing propaganda. They make damn good coffee products and I for one am gonna buy more. So there. Only problem is that the North Country hasn’t caught on yet, and if I ask for a StarBucks sombrero, they just shake their sorry heads in utter ignorance.
OK, so I packed up the car and arrived at Zealand Campground at 11:30 at night. Every camp site was filled to capacity. I had not expected this and it forced me to turn around and camp at the Tarry-Ho campground down the road on 302 which was not cheap. In fact I felt pretty ripped off . It was 12:30 when I set up the tent and Ruby didn’t sleep much at all. Neither did I, even after a couple of Michelob Ultras and Bachman’s tasty pretzel rods. MMMMM! My favorite midnight snack!
At 6:00 I awoke and had about a half gallon of iced coffee and some bagels. Arriving at the Zealand Trail at 7:00 I started out with major ambitions. The day was cool and blustery! I had my wool Red Sox hat and fleece mittens. Was I was thinking, or what!? At the Zealand hut I tied the dog to a post and chatted with some croo, meanwhile Ruby chewed through the leash. That is the 4th leash she has destroyed. We can’t waste any time with idle chit-chat and we hit the ground running once again. I’m on Zealand summit at 10:30. The weather turned cold on Guyout , hitting the open exposed trail on the Twinway. The wind was strong enough to knock me over and I pulled out the hat and gloves and tied my hood tight under my chin. West Bond was next, and I met some cool guys from New Ipswich and their dog Pablo; they too were bagging all the Bonds. We took pictures and I tried my best to keep pace with them. They past me at Bond but I caught them again at Bond Cliff with lots of groups shooting photos. Again, powerful winds made for difficult communication. It was 1:30 when I arrived at the Cliffs. So many times I just stopped dead in my tracks to take in the awesome beauty of the surrounding scenery. Through out the day I monitored the time knowing the trip back would be just as long if not even more tiring and the wind was becoming a challenge: on Guyout, a teenage kid propositioned me: “I’ll give you a 32 ounce package of peanut M&Ms for those mittens!” Was I smart to bring gloves – my fingers would have fallen off if I hadn’t. On the ascent back to Bond I bogged out. I had become real tired at this point, only eating a couple of Atkins power bars. I took a 20 minute break and ate an apple, some cheese and my last bit of Nature Valley oats –n-honey bar. Even the dog curled up in a ball and slept. I am always consumed with the notion that I will be starving to death on a huge hike- but once I’m on the mountain I seem to lose my appetite. I am never hungry. It’s more habit to stop at a restaurant and order a big steak after its all said and done. Finally, my engine is refueled and I make it back to Bond. A very nice father/son team are snapping photos on Bond and exchanging stories of their last venture to this spot. I take their picture- they take one of me. They are getting a ride from Lincoln Woods – but still talk about this “long way to go” before the day is done. After Bond, its back over Guyout then back up Zealand once more. I wanted to be at Zealand at 3:00 – but its now after 4:00. I have to scoot. It seems to take forever to get back to the hut once more and I’m convinced that I’ve meandered off trail. Finally I hear voices -it’s supper-time at the hut. By now my knees are sore and I have blisters on my toes! I make it to the car at 6:15 pm. It has taken 11 hours – to hike what I guess to be about 20 miles. Ruby is instantly asleep the moment we reach the car. I soak my feet in the river and drive the 20 miles into Gorham where we stay at the Colonial Fort Inn behind Hikers Paradise. This is definitely a cool motel – but Bruno yelled at me three times and I nearly burst into tears. I am scared of him. I got take out steak and tried to stay up and watch SNL but fell completely into a zombie state of exhaustion by 10:00. I woke up with my contact lenses suctioned to my eyeballs. On Sunday the plan was to do Moriah but my knee was killing me. I opted for Waumbek instead.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

By far the best hike ever. Mt. Monroe via the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail was awesome considering I had my 2 girls with me for the first time. I have made hikers out of them and now, their souls are committed. I have never seen the dog more enthusiastic jumping into the laps of mere stragers on the trail. The day was cool and windy! Upon reaching the Lake of the Clouds Hut, we drank hot cocoa and ate peanut butter sandwich lunches. The summit trip to Monroe was awesome: rock scrambling and above the tree-line sights! I was so happy to savor this day with the dog and the girls. We make a great team! And the girls want to do much more!

MT. Washington #16

The Big W! After a refreshing night at The Intervale Motel and 2 Dunkin Donuts iced lattes we hit Tuckerman's Ravine Trail with intense energy. I've never climbed Tuckerman's - only reaching Washington by the Ammonosuc Ravine or Jewell Trail. I was apprehensive. What a perfect day for this trip. Behind me, a teenage couple ; a girl in flip flops and a Red Sox shirt. They will never make it, I think. I decide to take the Lions Head Trail for a greater challenge. Upon the head coming to view I say, "Oh my God, I have to climb over that?" Indeed yes, and we scurry over the rock face and regroup with the flip-flopped hiker couple. Now, here is a cute kid who believes she can climb Mt. Washington in her flip flop sandals, and she actually does. She is from Pennsylvania on vacation and forgot her sneakers. Mt. Washington is swarming with tourists and Ruby is crazed with the stimulation. I had wanted to bag Jefferson, but that will have to wait. The trip down Tuckerman's was absolutely stunning. The cascades, the views over to Boott Spur were outstanding. I wish I had a longer day to spend.

Tripyramids North and Middle, 14 and 15

For once I get up early and drive out to the Kanc. highway toward today’s goal – Tripyramid! I have scaled the North Slide Trail up North Tripyramid before, much to my deepest regret. The first time it was my father tricking me into taking “The scenic route” up the mountain. It was here, back in 1993 that I was stung by a dozen angry wasps right on the slide trail. So, I will not take the North Slide up this mountain as I did before, instead opting for the more relaxed Pine Bend Brook Trail. What a nice trail – lots of babbly brooks for the thirsty doggy. No one is on the trail. I reach the Scaur Ridge Trail cut-off and I know we are closing in on the summit. I reach what appears to be the summit – there’s nothing here! No cairn- no sign of anything! Are we at the top? Another woman comes huffing up seconds later. “Is this it?” she asks. Ummmm, yup, pretty sure it is. It’s Lisa from Maine, a very cool girl going off to grad school in flat-land Michigan. We team up and tackle Middle Tripyramaid together. Again, no discernable summit perch. Is this the summit? Maybe its here. We search around the mountain top. Hey Lisa, does that look like the top? We trek back to the North Peak and munch power bars. Lisa is great company and we begin to discuss the complexities of male relationships. We discuss ex-boyfriends. Behavior patterns that make no sense. And of course the ex who drunk dials at 2 am. What the dilly-oh we say. There are no answers. We make a deal to take on Mount Moriah together. Hope we can!

Osceola and Osceola East: 12 and 13

Once more I stagger out of bed at 11:00 and the weather is overcast and gloomy. I am forever staggering from deep slumber at weird morning hours because I never can sleep at night. Nevertheless, I pack the car for a trip to Waterville and head for the Osceolas. Whenever I dig the backpack out of the closet, Ruby instantly begins bounding for joy. By now she's attuned to all the signs that indicate a hike is imminent. Though the skies appear threatening, it actually does not rain a single drop until I am safely back into the car 8 hours later. There is no one on the trail today and I am able to free my mind from mental clutter. In fact, I am making up new lyrics to the Cracker song "What the world needs another Steve Buschemi - so I can laugh at his teeth." This is the kind of space-out zone I love to be in when I'm hiking. And let me say, I can only achieve this through mountain hiking.
There are a few muddy spots, and as many times as I've climbed this mountain , one particular area always stands out. This is where the long ledges on the Osceola Trail become slanted, making for some tricky footwork. There's a group of hikers from Boston gathered at the top eating their turkey subs from the Mischievous Moose Deli. They talk about alternative protein sources. I snapped their picture and there was a subdued level of excitement that goes with the possibility of having your picture printed in the newspaper.
Now its time to decend the trail via 'The Chimney',scooch over to East Osceola, and cap off the day. My first impression of the Chimney came from a friend Gina who described carrying her dog down the chimney. " Oh my God, Marianne, the dog was afraid to go down the chimney. I had to pick her up and bring her down!" Holy shit! What is this chimney you speak about? I imagined a vertical chute- much like a real chimney. Enclosed by brick and perhaps a safety screen. What if I got stuck in the chimney like a fat grinch? Thankfully, there's a pussy way around the chimney and you need not venture down its' steep scary darkness. Even on the pussy trail, Ruby had a hard time managing the extreme drops. Still, we got over to East, with no soul in sight. I snapped some pics and we headed back to the parking lot just as the rains headed in. Heading down 93 south I stopped in Campton to enjoy a beer at the Sunset Grille . Jess the drumming bartender was there and I showed Paul, the restaurant owner , my Hippo-Press review of his establishment. Given my positive feedback in print , my tab was on the house.Thanks Paul!

GaleHead, North Twin and South Twin 9, 10, and 11

This day just can’t decide what it wants to do. This is the theme of the march up to Galehead. Starting out at the Gale river Trail, I first met a guy who asked, “heading up to Garfield today?” Hmm, you don’t get to Garfield from here…..later, he realized he climbed the wrong mountain. “Jeez, I always get these mountains mixed up.Hope we don’t get any thunderstorms!”
Each and every hiker descending the trail made somewhat of the same comment: “What is this weather doing?”
As if the weather could just make up its big silly mind and either clear up or be crap. The weather finally "chose" to clear itself up, and when I hit the Galehead Hut the clouds vanished to reveal a glorious blue sky. I dropped my pack at the hut and ran the half mile to tag Galehead. Suddenly, the muggy damp air lifted and blew out. Three guys at the top, Dave Bob and Steve were headed over to conquer both North and South Twin. They promised a ride back to my car in their Mitsubishi parked at the bottom of North Twin. I scrambled way ahead of them and found myself on South Twin amidst a horde of ornery biting flies. I waited around for the 3 amigos, but they must have fallen behind. I didn’t want to be too far ahead – that would just suck. Well, unfortunately I did end up too far ahead, realizing this on North Twin. I waited and waited – no sign of the guys. I shot down North Twin, crossing the three river crossings and leaving the leash at each crossing on the other side of the brook. Naturally, this forced me to cross back over each brook to retrieve the leash and promise myself that I wouldn’t forget the leash at the next brook crossing. That plan worked out real well. At the bottom I just began walking down Haystack Road hoping that eventually , the guys would show up. Within about 45 minutes they drove by and picked us up , Ruby sopping wet and covered in mud, and me stinking like an enormous sweat blob.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Let’s climb Cannon!
Since I slept way beyond 10:00 a.m. Saturday July 15th- it was going to be an easy baby mountain for me. We shot up I-93 passing by Profile Lake. Look! A huge white tent was erected upon the shores of the lake and the limos were just pulling in for a grand scale wedding. I parked at the tram parking lot and shot up the Kinsman Ridge Trail in no time. Though steep and sandy in spots, before I knew it, we were on the breezy ledges overlooking the Interstate. That’s where I left the dog leash, though I hadn’t realized this until we began climbing the steps to the observation tower. I tore of some rope from the tower’s scaffolding and this made do for a leash. A leash was much needed as a dozen or so young children coming from the tram crowded Ruby wanting to pat and feed her. From the summit we took the Lonesome Lake Trail over to the lake for a dip in the water. Very steep going down this trail – many tricky crevices and rough! We skirted the trail around the lake watching the swimmers at the hut. Finally, we dove in! It was great, though I appeared to be the only one daring enough to go under-water. After I dried off and changed, a woman asked, “Was the water leachy?” Was she implying the presence of possible bloodsuckers? Or was she referring to some kind of alkali? I checked my self for vampire worms; I seem to pass the test. We cruise down Lonesome Lake Trail passing a lot of people heading for the hut. The Lafayette Campground is once again filled to capacity as I see when I reach the bottom. Now, I need to get back to the car and I do this by following the Pemi Trail , a very cool bike trail I never knew existed. Soon, I pass by the wedding ceremony in progress. What a lovely place to get married, but probably a better place to become ankle deep in muck. Naturally the dog barks at some squirrels and I imagine the bride cursing me under her breath: “Get that damn dog to stop barking! You’re ruining my day you lousy mutt!”

Once finished, I drove up to Twin Mountain to stay the night at Lyons Hospitality. My favorite cheap digs for only $20.00 a night. Usually I have a whole unit to myself, but not tonight. The place is hopping. At midnight, the hostel keeper, Doug, knocks on the door to ask if I mind sharing my bunk with Jessie. No problem. I pour her a glass of wine and we start talking. She seems a bit out of place, a 23 year old just-married girl going off to boot camp. Seems she visits her husband in the NH State Prison 30 miles up the road in Berlin. She’s been married 2 days. What a way to start a marriage – with your husband in the slammer. But she’s optimistic, “Oh, everything will work out after I get back from boot. I know he’s going to change.” He’s going to change all right. He’s going to change his brand of soap to one he won’t have to bend over for in the clink house showers. She is up at 5:30 a.m. for her conjugal visit in lovely Berlin. And I think I have it bad.

Monday, August 14, 2006

North & South Kinsman #6 and 7

Following a busy holiday working at the NH State Liquor store on July 4th, I headed back to Lincoln for a day of hiking with my friend Magic. I check in at the Pemi Motor Court in Lincoln on the 5th, with a plan to meet Magic, an on-line hiking friend at the Kinsman Trailhead. The morning was bright and warm; with an early start I eagerly search for breakfast in Franconia at the Dutch Treat. It was anything but a treat. I ordered coffee - and that's all I got. A cup of black coffee. No spoon, no cream or sugar, just a cup of luke warm coffee that tasted like warm water with a brown crayon in it.The waitress shuffled off and I was forced to get up off the stool and go behind the counter for a spoon . I was hoping for a morsel of baked goodness: a muffin maybe - some warm cinnamon toast. When the waitress came back she reportedthat the kitchen was out of everything. "How 'bout an english muffin?"
I left feeling cheated and robbed out of a good meal. I had a fig newton instead and drove down Rt 116 to meet up with Magic. Only he wasn't there. I waited for about a half hour. Little did I realize he was parked down the street waiting for me. We completely missed each other by about 20 yards of parking lot. I set off without him and headed up the Mount Kinsman Trail .Though a fine day for hiking, the bugs nearly drove the poor dog batty. Not many on the trails today, and we hit North Kinsman without anyone else at the summit. We headed over to South, snapped some shots then headed back to North again.
It was here that I heard Magic's unmistakable voice . Ghost Dog, his hiking canine companion was with him and I became nervous about Ghost Dog and Ruby together . I have hiked with Ghost Dog before, and she can be intimidating. I believe she's a pit bull, and as her owner puts it: "she's just so weird!"
Sure enough Ghost Dog and Ruby spent the remaining time at North Kinsman summit growling and posturing. It was hard to determine who was the tougher dog, certainly G.D. had the sharper chompers, but I thought Ruby composed herself with a bit more class.

"Control yourselves, girls!"
Another hiker from the Rocks on top website spent time chatting but the commotion between the dogs and all our loud conversation drove away a group of boy scouts. Magic says, "Jeez, I'm glad those kids left. I wouldn't want them to witness a scene with the dogs!"
Here, I attempt to hold off Ruby from tearing into ghost Dog.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Mt. Jackson #5

Accompanied by the hyperactive Schnauzer duo of Ralph and Duncan, Ruby and I set out to conquer Jackson! What a fabulous day. With the exception that Ralph and Duncan took far too many risks for their owners to be comfortable with, the dogs all enjoyed the scenic hike. Sean and Dawna were great company as we headed up hill and communicated over walky-talkies. (“CCCCCCCHHH! Over!") At the Webster Cliff junction Ralph and Duncan turned around. This was after many attempts by Ralph to boulder–dive onto unprotected wildreness. Hence, his short lived career as a trail dog. Thankfully, many calories were burned along the way. The previous night was held in much gluttonous revelry with me drinking and eating my way through a huge fajita and about 5 Sam Adams Summer Ale at my fave North Conway pit stop, The Moat. The Moat is a great place to eat and drink, and I visit them every time I stay in town. There’s only one place to stay in North Conway – The Intervale. A cheap motel that accepts dogs.
Though I was really looking forward to having Ruby take her summit pose with the two schnauzers, we still managed to have a great day looping over Webster Cliff and then up over to Jackson. There is one tricky pass heading down Jackson and Ruby had difficulty navigating. A British woman, carrying her little corgi dog, realized the dog was in trouble and began coaxing her down through the steep crevice. Her accent further aggravated the situation and I ended up lifting the dog up and over this challenging rock ledge. All in all, a lovely day on this easy mountain. But I only wish that Mt Webster would count for something.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

MT. Moosilauke
A funny thing happened on the trip to Moosilauke. As in, 4th of July traffic sucked- so I took an alternate route off 89. The drama that unfolded in Canaan was unspeakably jaw-dropping bizarre. As I filled my tank with expensive back country gas, a Buick Le Sabre pulled up next to me . A woman hopped out for quickie-mart groceries. The passenger in the Buick then positioned himself in the drivers seat, put the car in reverse, erstwhile the woman screamed for him to stop: “Bobby, don’t do this!”
The boy payed no attention , instead he proceeds to knock the woman down as she attempted to stop the car. He peeled out of the lot at about 80 and headed south down Rt 4. She is sent airborne, along with her purse. The contents of which fall like confetti onto the parking lot. She lay bleeding next to me and I react at once while the locals stare with jaws agape.
“Do we need to report a stolen car?” I ask.
“No, that was my son! He’s not in his right mind!”
As if that was not glaringly obvious.
“He’s not thinking straight!”
What straight thinker would run down their own mother?
“I think he’s on something..."
Might I suggest crystal meth?
The police come and again the locals are inept in their lackluster response to providing assistance.
A man asked me, “Do you think she wants a Diet Coke?”
Finally the hillbilly police come and ask questions. The woman is given some ice for her injuries. She is lucky to be alive.
Finally I am on my way to hike a mountain! YES!
Only, it’s too late to bust a move up the big Moosilauke and I am forced to deal with “PLAN B”. The thunderclouds hovered overhead threatening a downpour. Sure enough it starts to rain, but the rain shower quickly comes to an end. I say , “Well, here’s a fine looking trail out of Benton State Forest, Hurricane Mountain Trail. One crap little mountain is better than none at all.”
A regrettable conclusion this was.
If you like wading knee deep in mud and having your ass bit by 10,000 mosquitoes, Hurricane Mountain is the one for you. Otherwise, avoid this aptly named natural disaster of a peak which seems to be waiting for FEMA to come along and clean up the mess.
Now head to toe in grime, I head for the campground off Rt 118. As I head east on 118, I am just moments behind a car accident involving an SUV which careened off the road and landed nose first in a cluster of pines. There is a party across the street and the party goers converge onto the road with worried looks and half empty bottles of Corona. All traffic has pulled over to assess the damage and a sober guest calls 911.
“There’s a boy trapped in the car!” Screams a Marlboro smoking party guest.
"Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Lets get him out!"
Two teens stumble into the road, bewildered, yet unharmed.
“Yes!" say the teens, “Joe is still in the truck!”
Finally, the 3rd passenger,Joe, emerges from the wreckage, ironically sporting a “Life is Good” T-shirt.
I want to ask him if Life is still good, or if today is an exception .
“I’m all right, I’m All right!!” He yells, discouraging any rescue attempt that may have been dreamed up by the Corona drinkers. Finally, the local rescue vehicles arrive and the road is blocked off; I stay and watch as gravity takes effect and the SUV tumbles from the trees.

Dave Pettelle, owner of Camp 118 in Warren has heard it all before, as i speak of my encounters with danger. "You need to kick back and relax!" For a mere $10 , I camp at the luxurious facilities known as “118". Here is a campground situated on 15 acres in Warren with river side sites and free firewood. There is often live music and a “Comfort Station”, for when bladders and bowels need comforting. Then there’s the Leaky Tiqui Bar, where Dave and Bridgette host parties and social events. This is an ATV-Trail camp with loads of trails. There are a lot of ATV-ers making a racket. I set up the tent and join the hosts at the bar where Bridgette serves me fresh trout. There will be a fireworks display of great magnitude, $800 worth! When the fireworks go off at 9:00 , Ruby freaks out and runs away. For 45 minutes I search for her unsuccessfully .
By now, the other Campers are well on their way to becoming heavily intoxicated and I report to Bridgette that the dog is missing. A full ABP was issued by the office crew and I can hear the campers calling for the dog, “RUBY!!” There is much searching, but there is no dog . I am worried. A biker babe, who appears quite inebriated, says to me, “ Ya know, I saw a dog on the roof of that house…maybe that’s your dog.”
Good Lord, woman, you are high as a kite - there’s no dog on the roof.
I dismiss her at once, only to be told again that, yes indeed; a dog was spotted on the rooftop of the main office. As I follow up on this tip I can see from the distance a scared dog pacing the rooftop as firecrackers snap in the background: it's Ruby on the roof. I retrieve her by climbing the ladder to the roof and coaxing her down. As we return to the tent, the Leaky Tiqui bar has spawned a new star. Perhaps it’s Neil Diamond’s nephew, Squeal Diamond, on guitar wailing, “I am I said” much to the approval of every drinking idiot. I talked with a few people then went on my way. Brian, from Warren stood out as an example – he and his wife, and new baby lost their home in a fire. He was working double time to make it all work.
July 2nd was foggy and overcast but I set out to finish the job of peaking Moosilauke. I met 2 women on the Gorge Brook Trail smoking cigarettes. I never did see them again. The only other hikers I encountered were a couple of guys from Natick. We had a nice talk and I waited for them at the summit. They were far behind. I waited at the Ravine Lodge for them. They did not show. Still, me and the dog got in a good day of hiking but the views from the summit were elusive. Some day I will hike Moosilauke and the weather will be outstanding. Until then, I will associate Moosilauke as being a gray , wet mountain.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

FLUME Mountain #3

On June 17th I met my Dad at the Lincoln Woods Visitor center. We didn’t really plan to meet there, but by coincidence, I saw his car in the parking lot at the same time I was pulling in. My Dad wants to keep hiking but glaucoma has left him with failing vision. He and his wife Chris rode into the lot just as I had, though we planned on meeting later for dinner. That was the In Sync moment number 1.
We all set out for the Lincoln Woods Wilderness Trail at 11:00. I was to head toward Flume Mountain up the Osseo Trail. Though we all set out together, I gained a pace that left my father behind. At 71, he is still hiking in despite some minor challenges. That’s where I want to be in 2036.

I meet several other hikers and overly frisky dogs along the Wilderness Trail. A young guy, his girlfriend and their chocolate lab raced past us on bikes and I catch them later as they descend Flume. The man is hollering and WOOOOP-ing down the trail and I think its coyotes or loons. “I’ll have what he’s on,” I say to his girlfriend, she rolled her eyes with a look that said, “no shit”.

The trip up the Osseo was fairly ubiquitous. Typical forested landscape and nice trail. No one around. Went for a pee off trail in the woods and left the doggy leash by the tree where I took a leak Dammit!

I reached the summit in no time. We stretched at the summit, took some pictures and snacked. A man fell asleep and began snoring loudly. The laughter that followed jolted him wide awake, and he fumbled around with his backpack then left. Though it was late , I thought to race out and snag Liberty. As I contemplated this, a woman, perched out on the ledges of Flume moaned loudly, “Is there any other way down this God forsaken hill?”
A man and his girlfriend, Ed and Miriam, had , quite literally, come up the Flume Slide Trail without a clue. The woman , Miriam, was not in the best of shape. And though I don’t like using the descriptive “ out-of-shape”, Miriam has not seen the inside of a gym in a long time. The boyfriend seemed desperate. “Can’t we get to The Flume parking lot another way, other than going down the Flume Slide Trail again ,or do we have to go back over Mount Liberty?” The woman moaned louder when hearing the mention of climbing another mountain to get to her car. “That’s the only way back, I’m afraid to say.” Again, moaning, “No, No…”
“Which way did you come up?” He asks, and I tell him I came up from Lincoln Woods. “Is it hard?”
“No, but it’s nowhere near the parking lot for Flume.”

“No, we can’t go back to Liberty, and down that trail, we’ll never make it.”
The compassionate soul within me takes over and I offer them a ride if they follow me down Osseo Trail. I explain that its not difficult , but slightly long.
“And you’ll give us a ride?” says Miriam. “Yes, I’ll drive you to the Flume lot. I’ve also climbed the Flume Slide. And by the way, you people are idiots. What were you thinking!?”
“We’re from Boston”
“I see.”
En Synco momento numero dos.
We head down together, though within minutes they have trailed far behind me. I mean very far. They are in no rush to get to the bottom. I stop and wait a few times and they still don’t catch up. Maybe they changed their minds and turned around. I see a couple of guys heading up trail and say, “Hey if you see a couple – blonde woman, tall intellectual boyfriend, would you tell them to put a move on? Jeez!”
There is enough time to begin searching for the dog leash . Now where’s that tree? Ruby bounds into the woods after a chipmunk – leading us to the tree with the leash beside it. In sync moment 3.
They finally catch up and apologize, and we maintain an easier pace to the Lincoln Woods Visitor center lot. She is in the field of education. In fact she’s a big wig with the Massachusetts Department of Education. We blast George Bush. I drive them back up Franconia Parkway and they are grateful.
Dad and Chris are staying at the Kancamaugus Motor Lodge on 112. I jump into the pool covered in mud and grime. AH!
Topping off the day – prime rib- at the Common Man. Excellent. Though we can barely read the menus from the 25 watt lamps placed on the table for quaint ambience. The waitress was a lively old gal. I remind Dad that Sunday, tomorrow June 18th, is Father’s Day. Gee, I haven’t had time to go Hallmark card shopping.
“Don’t even fucking go there!”