it’s still winter in the mountains!

It may be May, but the White Mountains have a mind of themselves when it comes to seasons. From the time that I saw snow in the summer to my experiences navigating the independently functioning weather system of Franconia Notch, these mountains never seem to abide by the seasons. So, I was not surprised at all to find over three feet of snow layering the Tripyramids on this spring day in mid-May. … More it’s still winter in the mountains!

off trail on owl’s head

Perched on a wooden shelf in my house, the maps of the White Mountains lay wrinkled, their edges beginning to wear from years of reference. Lined up against each other, each map displays in detail different sections of the mountains. Before each hike, we always press the map we need out against the kitchen table, drawing our finger up and down the contour lines. We zip it into pack pockets, pull it out in front of the steering wheel, and occasionally at trail intersections. You see, the main goal of the maps is to orient yourself against established hiking trails. While the red lines are any map’s focal point and have even sparked the creation of “red liners,” hikers who strive to lay their bootprints across every trail, it’s often the terrain off the trail that seems to be the most compelling.

As I was planning out my path up to the peak of Owl’s Head, the red lines were little help. They led my finger in loops around the route that I wanted to take, and up an incredibly dangerous ice slide in the winter. The real and only way to ascend Owl’s Head in the winter is through a course of two bushwacks.

More off trail on owl’s head

slipping down flume

Although this hike was done in the beautiful, crisp, fall month of October, the foliage and gentle breeze on the summits were not as picturesque as one might’ve hoped. However, after having seen snowpacks, freezing temperatures, and beating sun in seasons they don’t belong in, I know that the White Mountains (especially Franconia Notch!) operates on its own weather system. My foggy peak views on top of both Mt. Liberty and Mt. Flume were perfect examples of a slim payoff for working extremely hard to haul myself up the sides of mountains. However, the unexpected adventure I experienced hiking these peaks was worth it! … More slipping down flume

Breaking 40 on Mount Eisenhower!

The trees, spindly and thinned, were growing shorter and stubbier; and the amount of sun filtering onto the trail was increasing as the leaves divided. Any minute now we would be passing above into the alpine zone. I could feel the free, unregulated expanse of air nearing as we trekked towards it; as we climbed over mossy logs and rocks encased by tree-roots. At any time, it felt like, the shrubs and pines would part, and give way to the unpredictable yet incredible panoramic experience of swirling air, breathtaking views, and freedom; the experience of being above the treeline. … More Breaking 40 on Mount Eisenhower!

An Unexpected Slowpoke

Eight miles sounds like a short hike for a 4,000-footer. It sounds like a fast-paced bound up and around the ridge. A peak grab. An in-and-out.                                     

What it does not sound like is heaving yourself over boulders, scrambling through ice caves, running out of breath. Eight miles does not sound like New Hampshire’s second highest peak. Yet it is.  … More An Unexpected Slowpoke

Venturing Above Treeline

They don’t call it Mt. Isolation because it’s easy to get to. By the time you’re at the peak, you’re at least six miles from civilization in all directions, surrounded by the towering Presidential Mountain Range, and well, covered in dirt. At only 4,004 feet, it’s the second shortest 4,000 footer, but by taking the Glen Boulder Trail, I had to hike up over a 5,000+ foot ridge that leads to Mt. Washington and other Presidential mountains, then descend to the peak. I have to admit; it feels a little weird to work so hard to get over 5,000 feet, only to drop 1,000 feet to actually summit. There are two ways up Mt. Isolation; a longer but steadier direct route, or a steeper, wilder, rocky route chock full of peaks and valleys. My dad and I went with the latter. … More Venturing Above Treeline

Zealand on Zealand

Mt. Zealand. 4,260 feet. 11 miles. My 35th 4,000-footer.  Wait- did I say 11 miles? I meant to say 16.5, which is a pretty big difference considering a hiking mile is often rocky, steep, technical, and fairly difficult as you are lugging pounds of your food and water. So I was pretty shocked too when my 11-mile hike spiked to a 16.5-mile trek. … More Zealand on Zealand