Mount Washington Hike – White Mountains Adventures

I once read a list of top 10 deadliest hikes in America and of course immediately knew I wanted to do ALL of them.  I have problems I know.  As I scanned the list and frowning that so far I have only accomplished one.  The mist trail to the Half Dome in Yosemite (P.S. totally worth it.  Probably the most amazing hike I have done to date) was that one.

As my eyes continued to scan the list, I noticed that Mountain Washington, a hike a mere 3 hour drive (thought from someone who can’t drive) from Boston was also on the list.  Ever since then, I’ve been inching to go.  Tony has done the hike in the winter and we slowly collected some gear but it never worked out.  Finally July 4th weekend was perfect timing.

I mean it’s hot, so it should be tolerable at the summit right?

A few facts!

At 6,288 feet, it is the highest point in the northeast USA.

In April 1934, the observatory recorded a 231-mile-per-hour (372 kmh) wind that remains a world record for a land-based weather station.

Some of the observatory buildings are secured to the summit with chains to keep them from blowing away.

Temperatures atop the mountain can drop as low as -47 degrees Fahrenheit (-44 C)

But once again, it’s summer and 90 degrees at the base so how bad could it really be on top.

As we parted the car, we noticed other hikers coming out of their cars with large backpacks filled with something or other and I suddenly got very subconscious of my lack of gear.

Everyone needs a selfie at the base. I look more ready to go to the beach than I am to hike one the top 10 most dangerous hikes!

The ‘gear” we had

1. One camelpak I use for running that holds 2 liters of water
2. 2 smaller bottles of water in Tony’s backpack
3. 3 Peanut butter sandwiches & a few lara bars
4. headlamps – Because after almost being stuck on a trail in pitch darkness in Yosemite, we never leave without it
5. T shirt and shorts for Tony, Tank, hoodie and shorts for Liana
6. Innov-8 running shoes for Liana and saucony virrata for Tony

The fact that all the other hikers had rain gear and pants should have been a smarter sign for us but again its 90 at the base, just the thought of more layers made me sweat.

A photo looking down about .2 mile into the hike

From the beginning, there is no slow easy walk in the woods.  The boulders start from the beginning.  Although at a gradual incline level, you will be hiking rocks the whole trail.

And while the trail itself is unpleasant brutal horrible  challenging, you are constantly rewarded with beautiful cascades around you.

After 2.4 miles of boulder hoping you get to Tuckerman Ravine’s Shelters.

Very under-dressed for what’s to come

Can you see the storm that’s brewing above?

Now many hikers end their journey here.  Because after the tree line things get a little bit more gnarly.

Its like walking into the abyss

I’m still sweating and sweating from the heat, meanwhile my shoes are still soaking wet from a waterfall hike we did yesterday.

Visibility is getting worse but we’re still smiling

We are walking and taking pictures when suddenly it starts pouring rain and I start to understand why everyone was carrying rain gear.  Of course with lack of rain cover or even a plastic bag, I try to protect my camera and phone as best I can.  I cover it all up under my hoodie and hope for the best.

It starts getting darker and darker.  The rangers at the base said that there’s chances of thunder storms and if you see one coming, you should probably get below tree line.

We start noticing a few hikers turning around.  We’re probably half a mile from the summit.  Why would you hike 3.5 miles uphill just to turn around before you hit the summit.  I pouted and pouted as grew darker and rainier and I questioned how will I ever hike down these rocks once they’re wet.  We talked to one group of fit looking hikers who were turning around at the point we were at.  One of them summitted Mount Washington 7 times and said it’s probably best to not risk it with how bad the weather is.

I guess if the fit people with rain jackets are turning around, maybe its time for me to get my unprepared bum back down as well.  So sadly we turned and made the hike back down.  Had we went through the trouble of getting to the top, there would have been no visibility whatsoever, so there was very little to gain from going hire besides a high potential for injury, being stuck or getting struck by lightening.

On the clearest days, observers can see as far as Mount Marcy in New York State, 134 miles to the west.

So worry not Mount Washington, while I have yet to summit you, I’ll return and await a clear day when I can see as far as my almost blind eyes will allow me too.

The hike back down was a little scary on the ravine side.  The rocks got wet and suddenly were a lot more of a challenge going down than up.  It took me a while to get more comfortable.  Once we got into the tree line, it was back to be 90 and sunny.

Yes Mount Washington summit has a climate of it’s own.

While, I felt a little depressed about my weather luck lately, I did get to end the hike on a happy note.

I mean how could you not be happy after seeing that? Crystal cascades, about a 5 minute hike from the base?

Weekly Recap – Triathlon (Lack of) Training Week 3

Last week was a chill week.  I could have used the extra long weekend to run more and bike more and be cooler than you but I got lazy and just watched lots and lots of cats and fireworks.  It was hot and sometimes you need a chill week.

For a moment I had this crazy goal of trying to reach 3,000 miles (running) for 2013.  Than I did the math and that’s 65 miles per week or so for the rest of the year.  Yea… maybe next year!

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – I was a good little triathlete wannabe and did my workouts!  Ran 13 miles in two parts (8 and 5) and swam 1,000 yds.

Wednesday – I had a little motivation so I ran 8 miles so kinda okay

Thursday, Friday, Saturday – No running, no biking, no swimming, no real excuse.  I did hike about 3 miles on Friday and about 8-9 on Saturday =)

Preview of the Mount Washington hike

Sunday – I thought all those days off from running would help me regain my running mojo but instead it was hot and humid and I slowly suffered through 6.25 miles before I gave up.

However one great thing about this week was that I tested out the pond for my triathlon!   I am excited!  I will be the slowest swimmer that was but I can’t wait!

Total Miles 27.25

Total Feelings – I’m sick of summer

 

Ever lose your running mojo?

White Mountains Weekend – Waterfalls Fun!

After basking ourselves in displays of fireworks.  Tony and I woke up early to drive to NH on Friday.  Our main goal was to hike Mount Washington and just see what the White Mountains had to offer. Based on a friend’s recommendation we stayed at White Birches Campground.  The campsites were pretty spacious with very far bathrooms which is nice to be peaceful but if you wake up at 4AM, its peeing behind the tent for you!

Speaking of which! Check out my shiny new tent I brought for the TARC 50 miler that I ended up not using because after swimming in 25 miles of mud, I decided I earned my bed.

Of course the first thing I wanted to do was run up this hill we drove by.

The second thing I wanted to do was run this rail trail or at least bike it.  Alas, I did not bring my dinky bike.

We did pick up a lunch before our White Mountain experience started.

Yup SUBWAY.  I think with all my extra spinach and peppers, I almost made it worth 5 bucks.  Although it was weird to see all the usual chain fast food places in the White Mountains.  When Tony and I drove through southern Utah, there was barely any place at all.

Anyways we asked one of the ranger stations for some hike recommendations.  Unlike, my other trips, I did not buy a White Mountains book or research endlessly.  Although, I really wish I did.  I’m not a wing it kinda girl!

The first hike we did was called the Falls.   It passes four waterfalls fed by two mountain streams that drain waters from Mount Adams and Mountain Madison.  We only saw 3, so maybe we didn’t go far enough on the trail.  I got stuck at a crossing I didn’t want to fall into so we turned around.

Gordon Falls, which was probably the best out of the three we saw

The next were Salroc Falls which is broken up into two parts.

Lower? Salroc Falls

We passed by lots of slugs and mushrooms and beautiful greenery!

Slugs deserve love too!

The last falls we got to see on this hike was Gordon Falls

Tama Falls

We didn’t see the rest of the trail because we either a. lost it or b. it involved crossing Gordon Falls and after getting my feet wet and almost get swiped off into the water, I decided it was easier to turn around.

Tony hoped the rocks to cross, I got scared and gave up.

However, I made a new friend on our return.

Zion National Park – Watchman Trail – An Underrated Classic Hike

One of my first hikes as Zion was on Watchman trial, a very classic hike but quite underrated compared to others.  We started the hike around 10AM and was probably one of the more animal filled hikes I had in Zion probably because there was a lot less humans around.  Best part? The hike is only 2 miles and can be completed in an hour – two depending on how much time you take for photos and snacks.

Watchman 3

The hike starts probably about 5-10 minute walk from Watchman Campsite and an even shorter walk from the visitor center

Watchman 5

Within a 10 minute walk you get an amazing view!

Watchman 4 And a new friend, a mule deer
Watchman 2

Lots and lots of lizards

Watchman 1

And a crawly snack for the lizard

Watchman 10

After about a 456 foot ascent, you’re pretty much as the top with this amazing view at 4419 ft.

Watchman 9

One warning, it gets pretty hot since most of the hike is exposed.  Wear sunblock because even in Mid April, within 30 minutes this kid’s neck was fried.

Watchman 8

More lizard friends.  I can tell you after a week of hiking I was a lizard and squirrel expert photographer.

Watchman 7

And Cacti!! Loved how within an hour I previewed all the parts of Zion that I would hike through the rest of the week.

Watchman 6

Another amazing view photo of the Zion Canyons

Watchman 1

The top has a great picnic/resting area to relax and enjoy before making the descent   We heard that 5 minutes before we got there, there was a horned sheep citing but sadly we did not see it.  Overall great hike for the 90 minutes of time!

Glacier Hiking In Iceland

Over 11% of Iceland is covered in glaciers. What exactly is a glacier?  “A slowly moving mass or river of ice formed by the accumulation and compaction of snow on mountains or near the poles.” So basically it has to be moving, otherwise it’s just an ice field which I heard are more prevalent in Canada.

Another fun fact… Iceland has no mountains, just valleys carved out by glaciers and volcanoes.  The biggest glacier is Vatnajökull; however, that was on the other side of the country so we didn’t get to see it.  =(.  However, only two hours from Reykjavík you find the Eyjafjallajökull massif (6th largest glacier), and just a little further east the Sólheimajökull glacier, a tongue extends down from its mother glacier, Mýrdalsjökull, Iceland’s fourth largest.  This is also the same area that caused all traffic control disruptions and chaos due to volcanic ash.  The icecap of Mýrdalsjökull is an active cranky volcano called Katla that tends to erupt whenever nearby siblings erupt.  Volcanologists are continuing to monitor Katla, aware that any eruption from Katla following an eruption from Eyjafjallajökull has historically occurred within months of the latter and she is way overdue.  How scary!

What I think we hiked was the Sólheimajökull glacier and the dark dirt you use is actually volcanic ash.  However, our guide told us that due to recent rainstorms what we were seeing is the cleanest this glacier has been in decades.

Iceland Glacier Hike

We started by learning how to put on crampons and getting an ice axe.  We learned how to walk with crampons, like a cowboy of course.  And as you can tell in the photo I am literally wearing everything I brought with me because I heard these hikes are cold and windy and cold.  
Iceland Glacier Hike 2

We started by hiking up the glacier, where I started to get terribly over heated.  Of course with my luck the one day I was dressed in preparation it was relatively warm and sunny!

Iceland Glacier Hike 3

Our hike group was relatively huge with over 20 people so there was a lot of waiting and chilling involved.

Iceland Glacier Hike 4

We learned to avoid walking on any snow because what lies beneath might be….

Iceland Glacier Hike 5

well deep deep hole.

Iceland Glacier Hike 6In some places where the snow melted, you could see what fate could await you.

Iceland Glacier Hike 7

Iceland Glacier Hike 8

Then we did some more walking with our overly large group.

Iceland Glacier Hike 9

Glacier water is some of the freshest and tastiest you could drink.  Tony and I both took a taste, although I think he’s also secretly practicing his downward dog.

Iceland Glacier Hike 10

Then there was more waiting and slow slow walking so I amused myself with some modeling

Iceland Glacier Hike 11

Then the more interesting part of the hike started up.  We walked into one of the glacier’s crevices   I have a short attention span of an adrenaline junky so just standing was making me impatient.

Iceland Glacier Hike 12

Which was followed by a crawl into a glacier cave

Iceland Glacier Hike 13

Good thing Tony and I are small because that cave had a lot of small and tight places we crawled through.

Iceland Glacier Hike 14

I looked pretty happy in this photo right?  Yea that was before Tony pushed me into the puddle in front of me.  As I mentioned before we had a large group and I had 5 people in front and like 10 people behind me blocking my exit which suddenly made me claustrophobic and I had to get out

IMG_7997

One of the many beautiful views I had in the glacier.  The blue tint of the ice is more visible in the winter than summer I think due to the cold.

Iceland Glacier Hike 15

Me looking slightly less excited after taking a swim in the ice cave pool.  Also walking like a cowboy isn’t pleasant when you’ve been wanting to pee for the past 4 hours.  If only us ladies had it as easy as men.

Our hike was with Iceland Mountain Guides and I’m not sure if I would recommend them.  The guides were wonderful but what our hike lacked was actual hiking.  I would have liked if our 4 hours included some more walking around instead of standing.  I’m not sure if it was because our group was so huge (20 people of various age and fitness level is a lot) or the short hours of sunlight but I feel like I could have handled something more challenging.  To be fair, the hike was marked as easy and I’m not sure if anything more challenging is available during the winter and within proximity to Reykjavik.

None the less when asked what my favorite part of Iceland was,  I would say the glacier hike.  Despite the lack of a challenge, there is something beautiful and amazing about being on a glacier covered in volcanic ash surrounded by valleys and snow-capped volcanoes.

Hiking Mount Monadnock

My work team is a unique place.  While some get wined and dined, we get taken outside.  So Thursday, a day before my flight to Spain we took a 2 hour drive to New Hampshire to hike a mountain.

Per the all knowledgeable Wikipedia Mount Monadnock, or Grand Monadnock in NH , known for its presence in the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. It is the most prominent mountain peak between the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Massachusetts Berkshires. It has long been known as one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world!

At 3,165 feet (965 m), Mount Monadnock is nearly 1,000 feet (300 m) higher than any other mountain peak within 30 miles (48 km) and rises 2,000 feet (600 m) above the surrounding landscape.

Now can you picture 10 tax accountants climbing a mountain? Nah neither did I unless it’s a mountain of numbers.

Shared Photo

Most of us wear our hiking shoes once a year when we do this. Some of my co-workers purchased hiking shoes just for this. Now let me tell you a few things about Mount Monadnock.  It may be only 2 hours away from Boston but I feel serious pains once a year and I can tell you it’s not from a marathon.

This is my third year doing the hike with my co-workers.  First year it was cold, there was snow on top but the path was dry.  Second year was hell!  It was raining and our hike was more of a slip and slide!

This year the weather couldn’t have been more perfect!  The foliage was beautiful!

It’s a long way to the top!

But totally worth it!

It remains clear largely because of fires set by early settlers. The first major fire, set in 1800 to clear the lower slopes for pasture, swept through the stands of virgin red spruce on the summit and flanks of the mountain. Further fires and hurricane damage left the forests a tangle of fallen timber. Between 1810 and 1820, local farmers, who believed that wolves were denning in the blowdowns, set fire to the mountain again. The conflagration raged for weeks, destroying the topsoil and denuding the mountain above 2,000 feet (610 m).

Such a long way down but the view was just as lovely.

We wined and dined afterwards but I decided not to weird out my coworkers by being paparazzi.  Now I am a runner and not a mountain climber and I will be doing my limping swagger for the next week until my quads recover.     Luckily I’ll be limping around Spain.

Hiking at Minnewaska State Preserve

Saturday was our second day visiting my parents’B bungalowB in Monticello, NY. B After our bums (okay just mine) was a bit sore fromB pseudoB mountain biking we figured we should try hiking. B I picked the Minnewaska State Preserve as somewhere I once have been 10 years ago that provided long carriage roads of walking.

Our first goal after parking was to walk from Minnewaska Lake to Awosting Lake. B Something that was a simple 3 mile walk down a carriage walk… a three mile walk in 90 degrees but still seemed easy. B Then we got distracted by something called a “Blueberry trail”

Big bad bear….

We figured how long could something called a Blueberry path be…. Clearly we did not check our maps… B This bridge was made by a veryB ambitiousB group of girlB scoutsB or so the sign said.

In the end the Blueberry path was 2 mile hike that included moderate ascends and descends that were pretty easy had it not been 90 degrees. B At least we didn’t starve

Funny thing about this picture is that I have one from 10 years ago back when I was a chunky kid who hated the world and all that punk rock anarchy oi oi oi teen angst.

We did finally find an end to the veryB delusionalB blueberry path (or hike) that came with an amazing view!

These views were what made me want to return here!

We relaxed and snacked by the lake. B Some people were swimming but I’m a pansy who gets cold easily so I just watched and basked in the heat. B Afterwards we took an easy 3.5 mile walk around the Lake Awosting

I love daisies! B The 3 mile hike back to the car however was a little rough….

We continued onto the never ending path of return to our car! B 5 waterbottles and 11 miles later we were ready to go eat and rest…

Of course it’s been hours since our last McDonalds stop…

We start looking a little like this if we go too long without food

And there’s only so muchB granolaB & nuts you can eat… so a stop was required….

Dear aspiring chefs: Please go to upstate NY and open us businesses so next time I’m there I don’t have a diet of McDonalds!