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:
















My Top 5 Mountain Hikes of 2015

Although I didn’t get nearly as many mountains hiked as I had hoped this year, I crossed another seven 4,000 footers off my list and saw many amazing, memorable views. As the year draws to a close, I’ve looked back and determined my top 5 mountain hikes of the year.

1  Mount Pierce/Mount Eisenhower Loop – This was one of the most challenging and rewarding hikes I did this year. Mount Pierce and Mount Eisenhower are both 4000 footers that are part of the Presidential Range in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. Both have great views, but the vista from the summit of Eisenhower was incredible. Definitely worth the 10 mile, 6-7 hour hike.

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2   Black Cap Mountain – One of my first hikes after the thaw this year, we hiked several miles up a closed road before reaching the mountain trail, and this was still an easy hike (in comparison to most mountains). Though this mountain is small (2,369 feet), the view is mighty! Black Cap Mountain offers a spectacular view and is a great hike.

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3   Mount Chocorua – I hiked up Mount Chocorua via the Champney Falls Trail, which is a gorgeous hike along waterfalls until you reach the switchbacks leading to the top of the mountain. The easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range, the views from Chocorua’s 3,490 foot summit spread far and wide, allowing for a gorgeous look of the surrounding landscape.

chocurua7     chocurua9

garfield4   Mount Garfield – I’d be lying if I said this was one of my favorite hikes, but it was one of my favorite views, which made the monotonous, grueling hike worth the effort. At 4,500 feet, Mount Garfield is the 17th highest of the New Hampshire 4000 footers. This was the first time I hiked a snow covered mountain, which I didn’t love, but the view at the top was so incredibly gorgeous that I completely forgot the horrors of the trail (until I was back on it on the way down). I was momentarily transported to an almost magical winter wonderland. Then I was back on the trail. The beauty was short lived, but it’s definitely a memory I’ll cherish forever.

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5     Mount Field – I peak bagged Mount Field along with Mount Willey, and was supposed to head over to Mount Tom, too, (all 4000 footers in the Crawford Notch region) but the weather turned and that didn’t happen. Usually I have a vendetta against a mountain anytime the hike doesn’t go as planned, but this time I didn’t. Perhaps that’s why I liked this hike – because it was a lesson where I grew and gained maturity. Maybe, but it’s more likely that the memory of the creepy birds landing on my hands with their taloned death grip grew on me (it did). I’d like to go back and have another chance with those birds. This time I’d try harder to put my whole birds are dinosaurs that sometimes peck your eyes out thing out of mind and instead try to enjoy becoming intimately acquainted with my new feathered friends as they land on me like I’m in a Disney movie.

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Sabbaday Falls

sabbadayfallssabbadayfalls2I first stumbled upon Sabbaday Falls while hiking the TriPyramid Mountains, but as the end stretch of a twelve mile hike that included two mountain summits over 4000 feet, I didn’t really have the energy left to fully appreciate the beauty of this site the way it deserved. I knew I’d be back.

Located in the White Mountain National Forest off the Kancamagus Highway in Albany, NH, it’s easy to see why Sabbaday Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in New Hampshire.

sabbadayfalls6Rushing water cuts a deep gorge through the mountain rock, falling, at its peak, for 45 feet. Lower down it gathers in shallow pools, cascades down the rock face and flows in a steady, winding stream, making this one of the most enjoyable walks around. It’s also quick, an easy grade, and wheelchair accessible, so sabbadayfalls4
there’s no excuses not to stop the car and explore this natural wonder!


Diana’s Bath

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As the sun beats down on a blistering hot day it’s hard to imagine that it was only last month that I was trekking through the snow and slipping over ice to explore Diana’s Bath.
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A quick hike across flat terrain in Bartlett, NH, Diana’s Bath boasts a series of small waterfalls. Located in the White Mountain National Forest, the falls were once used as a sawmill, but now the area is a protected historic site. The water levels are at their peak in April, when these photos were taken.  This  picturesque hike is a wonderful way to spend the day and is easy enough for the whole family. With plenty of nearby trails to explore and sites to see, Diana’s Bath should not be missed.

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The Forgotten – Mount Tecumseh

007We had the mountain entirely to ourselves. While we passed cars at other trail heads, our lot was empty. The White Mountain National Forest didn’t even bother to mark the trail head with a sign. As the smallest of New Hampshire’s 4000 footers, poor Mount Tecumseh is neglected and forgotten.


There are two trails to the summit. One starts at a ski resort. The one we chose begins at an unsigned lot off of Tripoli Road. To find it, it’s on the south side of the road, between the lots for Mount Osceola and Eastman Brook, which are both on the north side of the road. It’s 5.7 miles from I-93.


The hike begins by leading you across two shallow rivers, after which you come upon a nice, leaf strewn path with  surprisingly few rocks that leads you up at a 45 degree angle. It was a different type of trail than the other 4000 footers we’ve done. A nice change of pace, but we were sure there’d be some climbing to come later.


At the top of this trail there’s a small cairn, an indicator of change in terrain. From here the trail changes to more of a path winding through the woods leading to the occasional scramble over rocks. Then you reach the top, which is a false summit of sorts. There’s a barely noticeable, fallen cairn marking the leveling off of this trail at the top. A path to your right leads to what is probably the best view on this mountain, and what most who take this trail believe to be the summit. To reach the actual summit, continue on the trail. It will take you through a series of dips and rises until you come to the actual summit, about a mile farther and only 250 feet higher than the false summit.


I can understand why so few people hike Tecumseh – there’s almost no view, and Mount Osceola, which has an amazing view, is right across the street. However, it’s still a nice hike. What it lacks in view in makes up for in peace and quiet. There’s no overcrowded trails, no hikers screaming to each other, no one smoking a cigarette at the top. There’s just you, your thoughts, and nature.

The Legend of Osceola



The Legend of Osceola -it was a play I was in in the fifth grade. My mom actually wrote it. The epic tale of the Indian Chief who led his people back to their native homeland in Florida against the white man’s wishes. I climbed Mount Osceola in honor of that man. Sounds noble, doesn’t it? Truth is, I climbed the mountain because I like to climb things.


The day started out damp and gray. We almost didn’t head out, but had hopes that the sun would come out and burn off the gloom as the day progressed. We weren’t to be disappointed. By the time we reached the White Mountain National Forest is was a beautiful day. After we finished bumping seven miles down a dirt road to reach the Mount Osceola trail head, we were ready to climb. We put the mandatory $3 parking fee in the honor system envelope, hung the pass on the mirror, and off we went.


The sun was bright overhead, but there was a chill in the air heralding the first day of fall. Random swatches of tangerine and cherry wove their way among the green, a sampling of the leaf display soon to come. The trail was a work-out, heavy on the rocks. It was pretty difficult in some places, with numerous switchbacks, and one treacherous obstacle where the only way to pass over a huge boulder was to place your trust in an old, exposed tree root as a foot hold as you hugged the rock, trying to flatten yourself out so you wouldn’t hang too far over the drop below.



We covered the 3.2 miles to the 4315 foot summit in only an hour and forty-five minutes, which was a huge ego boost. This was not a cake walk climb. We passed five groups on our way up, so we might be getting kind of good at this whole mountain thing. I had to stop every 20 minutes to take a sip of water, but I think that may be a female thing – guys just spit when their mouth gets dry. I don’t know how that helps, but it’s what they do. (And it will be a really bad day for one of them if I ever stick my hand in it while climbing and I know who’s mouth it came from.)


As usual, I was freezing at the summit and had to wear both a sweatshirt and a windbreaker, but the view was amazing. We tried to find a place out of the wind for a quick lunch, but sometimes there’s very little shelter on the top of a mountain. By the time we finished eating and started our descent, my hands were ice hold. The good thing about hiking, though, is that after 20 minutes of making our way down the mountain they had warmed back up. The entire hike took less than 4 hours, and even with the 2 hour drive home it was still early enough to throw a quick dinner together and watch a movie, which was a first for a day spent climbing a 4000 footer.

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