Sparkling Snow on the Hancocks

Driving the Kangamangus highway to the trailhead, I admired the fresh snow weighing down evergreen branches and sparkling over parts of the Swift River. We parked at the hairpin turn with an incredible view of clouds hovering around just the summits of Osceola and other nearby mountains. I was ready to hike the Hancocks and pulled my gaiters and spikes over my boots in the frigid air. It was nine degrees, but a beautiful sunny day. It was calm at the parking lot’s altitude, but we were a little concerned about wind in the peaks. It had been a windy weekend, with windholds and rough conditions both days prior where I was skiing. Luckily, the Hancocks do not rise above treeline, and that is why we decided to hike them instead of our initial plan of Mt. Washington. … More Sparkling Snow on the Hancocks

Finishing off 2020 on a high note

Ironically, my last hike of 2020 was a good one. I ended off the pretty horrible year on a high note, up 4,000+ feet in the sky on a beautiful day. Mt. Tom, Field, and Willey were coated in a very thin layer of snow and ice, thanks to the Christmas Day rainstorm sloughing off a considerable amount of snow. While I was lacing up my hiking boots, securing my gators and microspikes, and pulling on all my winter gear, the car read 5 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Zealand wore her dog coat in the freezing weather. My dad and I were hiking with friends Tim and Emily Dunham, so we did a two car shuttle, dropping one at the Willey House parking lot and starting from the one at the Crawford Notch Train Depot. We started there because it was about 400 feet higher than the Willey House, so overall, we would have more downhill. … More Finishing off 2020 on a high note

Backpacking the Sugarloaf Range … PART TWO

On a 2 day backpacking trip across the Sugarloaf mountain range in an attempt to climb six 4k peaks – South Crocker, North Crocker, Reddington, Abraham, Spaulding, and Sugarloaf, I had so far bushwhacked six miles through unmarked woods. At last, I had broken through to the Appalachian Trail and was searching for the Spaulding Lean-To site where I would camp for the night. But, after hiking uphill in one direction for a long time on the AT, I was nearing the peak of Spaulding Mountain. We should have hit the lean-to by now. Where was it? … More Backpacking the Sugarloaf Range … PART TWO

Backpacking the Sugarloaf Range … New Bushwhack and “Jail Trees” PART ONE

Last weekend, I knocked six peaks off my Maine 4,000 footer list in a two-day backpacking trip. It was quite an unconventional loop in the Sugarloaf range, tackling (in order) South Crocker, North Crocker, Reddington, Abraham, Spaulding, and Sugarloaf with a major bushwhack in the middle. Though you may consider this loop, I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for the faint of heart. … More Backpacking the Sugarloaf Range … New Bushwhack and “Jail Trees” PART ONE

Weekend in the Whites

The White Mountains have officially opened up and I thought I’d get my hike on (practicing good social distancing and hiking conservatively, of course). Last weekend I hiked Mt. Waumbek on Saturday and Wildcat D on Sunday. These were both peaks I had hiked years ago and were my 2nd and 3rd repeats since completing the 4,000 footers. As I was hiking, I imagined young Katie on the trail ahead of me. … More Weekend in the Whites

Looking back on my 4k footer journey… Where do I go from here?

I don’t remember the first step I took onto my first 4,000 footer. I know I was eleven and that it was Mount Waumbek, but that’s only from pictures. I don’t remember what I was thinking, or if I even knew what a 4,000 footer was. I definitely didn’t know I would be finishing all 48 of them five years later. To be honest, I probably was just following the family, not knowing what I was hiking or where I was going. But, that first step began my journey of a thousand miles. That first step led to a major passion in my life. That first step was so very important. … More Looking back on my 4k footer journey… Where do I go from here?

I made it! – Finishing my 48 on the Bonds

You know how they say time flies? Well, it sure doesn’t fly during the course of a difficult hike. But, looking back on my five years of climbing New Hampshire’s 48, I have to say I can’t believe I finished. I’m still in disbelief about finally achieving the goal I have worked at since age 11. Finishing on the majestic Bonds was a fitting end to my epic journey. … More I made it! – Finishing my 48 on the Bonds

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