Mount Washington, NH ~ through the hiker’s lens

At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the highest mountain in the northeastern United States, and one of the 48 New Hampshire 4000 footers. Home to a weather observatory, a cog rail, and an auto road, it’s accessible to anyone in the area that wants to visit. For those who choose to hike to the summit, it’s an entirely different experience – one as beautiful as it is dangerous. The view as seen from the trail:
















Mount Garfield ~ Winter Wonderland at 4500 feet

garfieldI could see snow in the distance on Mount Washington, but it had yet to stick in the valley, so I really didn’t expect to encounter much of the white stuff on our hike up Mount Garfield. Shortly into the hike, however, I realized that I was in for a surprise. Our boots crunched over a light dusting of snow. Then they sank into an inch of slush. Soon, we found ourselves marching through a winter wonderland, surrounded by ice frosted trees and snow banked trails.

garfield2At 4500 feet, Mount Garfield is the 17th highest of the New Hampshire 4000 footers in the White Mountains. The trail starts easy enough – for the first two of three miles, it’s like walking up a wheelchair ramp – a constant but not too steep incline. There are several river crossings which were quite easy to traverse, although I imagine that in late spring/early summer garfield6when the water level has risen from the thaw that they may prove more difficult.

Once you stop hiking straight up and start winding your way around the switchbacks, the trail takes on that endless feeling where you expect to see the top come into garfield3view around every corner, but it just doesn’t. The hike is in and out, five miles each way. Maybe it was the snow, but this was a VERY long five miles in. I’ve gotten pretty good at estimating how much ground we’ve crossed, but I was off by a good mile on this one. Just as I had garfield5convinced myself that we’d missed a turn and were hiking on to the next mountain, we finally reached a sign marking a split. Going straight would take us to the summit in .02 miles. Turning left would take us to a hut in .02 miles. Energy renewed, we hiked on to our destination.

garfield4At the very end, as usual, it gets a bit steeper and requires climbing some rocks, but for the most part, this was an easy, if long hike, with no slides, scrambles, large expanses of bald rock to cling to or any other more challenging features to garfield7conquer.The view was amazing, made all the more bewitching by the snow and ice. The summit was incredibly cold and windy, the kind of weather that claws at you, where your skin is whipped raw and you quickly lose feeling in your fingers and toes, so we snapped a few pictures and garfield8began our retreat.


It was too cold to stop and there was nowhere dry to sit, so lunch consisted of stuffing our pockets with food to eat while walking. With the short fall days, we were also pressed for time if we wanted to get off the mountain before nightfall. We did the ten mile hike in just under six hours.


This seemingly endless hike was definitely worth the views, and even though I succumbed to the sniffles over the next couple of days, it was one of my favorite hikes of the year. I highly recommend this mountain.


Peaked Mountain

peaked9A chilly but sunny Saturday afternoon found us back at the Pudding Pond trailhead in North Conway, NH, only this time, instead of hiking around the pond, we were headed up to Peaked Mountain, one of the three summit trails that can be found in this section of the Green Hills Preserve.

peaked2At 1739 feet, Peaked Mountain isn’t the most challenging hike, but it is a rewarding one, with breathtaking views that can be reached in less than an hour, making this a great stop for a quick hike when you don’t have an entire day at your disposal. If you have a bit more time, you can add a trip over to Middle Mountain (which I haven’t hiked yet) to your itinerary.


The trail is lined by a series of small falls and is well sheltered from the sun. This was a great little hike that allowed for some fresh air and exercise while still allowing plenty of time for weekend errands.

Lake Chocorua

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lakec5If you’ve spent a lot of time looking at pictures of beautiful lakes with mountains in the background, chances are you’ve seen a picture of Lake Chocorua. The bald rock summit of Mount Chocorua can be seen in the distance from the shores of the lake. In the summer, it’s a popular spot to launch lakec2a kayak or canoe. In the fall, it’s a serene spot to take a walk, surrounded by fall leaves shaking in the brisk air. It’s the perfect place to take pictures any time of year, with many award wining shots taken at sunrise and sunset. I couldn’t resist taking a few photos of my own on my cell phone. Located in Tamworth, NH, right off 16, it’s a stop you can’t miss if you’re in the area.

lake37 lakec

A (Covered) Bridge to Nowhere

bridge1Covered bridges, like lighthouses, are one of those things that seem to have a strange kind of rustic charm that lures people in. bridge4There must be a fascination about them, really, to cause such a fuss. Since bridge3moving to New England I’ve seen maps with their locations, organized tours, books, calendars, bridge6coffee cups, sweatshirts-you name it and I’ve seen a covered bridge on it. There’s even one on a back road in the town I live in, a single laned covered bridge that draws tourists into traffic jams like bees to honey. Apparently, in the scheme of things to see in New England, they’re a pretty big deal.

bridge5So imagine my surprise when we wandered upon one out in the middle of nowhere while taking a sideroad to a hiking trail off the Kancamagus Highway. It was the first nippy day of fall, and instead of hiding inside under a blanket next to the pellet stove, we went for a hike to explore new places. And this hidden treasure was our reward 🙂

Always Do Your Research.

I learned a very important lesson this weekend – always do your research. Different from always be prepared. We always go hiking with a full pack – first aid kit, water purifying kit, flare, space blanket – basically everything you’d need should you encounter an emergency or get lost or stuck in the wild.  No, doing your research means knowing what you’re getting into. Not that Mount Greylock was hard to hike. In fact, it was the easiest mountain I’ve hiked so far. But I didn’t know that going in, because I didn’t do my research.

     To begin, we started the day with a three hour drive to get to the mountain. Since we were navigating to the visitor’s center at the foot of the mountain, we didn’t bother printing any maps of the trails before we got there. We were sure they’d have plenty. And they did. So I got a map from the ranger and walked across the parking lot to where the trail started while casually perusing the map. Then I looked a little closer at the map. Looked at the sign at the trail head. Then the map again. Then I hiked back across the parking lot to speak with the ranger.

     The full trail for Mount Greylock is eight miles long. I love hiking, and used to think nothing of a 10 mile trip – back when I lived in Florida where everything is relatively flat and you hike a mile in under 20 minutes. But, as I learned the hard way on my first climb after moving up here last year, mountain miles are different. It takes a good hour a mile when you’re climbing straight up. We had read (briefly) that it only took 4 hours to climb Greylock. Something wasn’t adding up.

      A quick chat with the ranger revealed that very few people climb from the bottom, especially if they’re not planning on staying overnight (which we weren’t), and there are many places to park along the way as the road goes all the way to the top. A lot of visitors just drive up. So, at the ranger’s suggestion, we parked halfway up at the campground parking area. About 4 miles from the top, so still a challenging day’s hike. We thought. Except that when we get out and start climbing, we discover that the trail really isn’t that steep. Almost like a vacation compared to the last couple of weekends. 
So we took the Campground Trail to Hooper, then chose the Overlook trail to the top to add a little time. We passed a few nice waterfalls on the way up. Lots of mud, slick rock, and tree roots made the journey a little more challenging than a walk in the park. At the top, there’s a war memorial and a lodge. A nice view, but a bit crowded with all the people who drive up. We spent some time wandering around the top, had our mountain summit snack, then started our way back to the car and our long drive home. We took the Appalachian Trail to Hooper to Campground on the way down, and passed a picturesque  pond. The entire climb took less than four hours, with plenty of picture ops and a long stroll around the top. Had we been prepared and done our research going in, we would have known that we didn’t need to start halfway up – most of the hike was not measured in mountain climbing miles. But it’s a lesson learned, and we’ll be better prepared next time.

     However, we have a little something different planned for next weekend’s adventure. We’ll be traveling back to Western Massachusetts, but this time we’re headed for the Deerfield River, where I will try my hand at fly fishing for the first time!

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