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!

winter hiking; should you try it?

Most people hang up their hiking boots at first snowfall, but the truth is, hiking is a four-season sport. In fact, many hikers favor hiking in winter because of the way the snow covers all the crevasses and bumps in the rocks. Personally, I prefer winter hiking if the path is packed down and I can use my microspikes, but I am not a fan of breaking trail in snowshoes. My current hiking goal is to complete all 48 4,000 footers, but some hikers attempt to complete the peaks in each of the four seasons, or even go as far as to complete the “grid,” hiking each peak in every month of the year! Whether you’re working to complete these multi-season goals, love the winter weather, or just trying something different from what you’re used to, there are many new safety components to consider when hiking in the winter … More winter hiking; should you try it?

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!

Hiker Feature: Alex and Sage Herr

Featuring… Alex and Sage Herr, aka the Granite Gals! I first met these incredible hikers through Facebook after they saw my blog and wanted to interview me for their podcast, granitegals.org.  Their podcast features a new female New Hampshire hiker each month. We arranged a time and met in person in a field behind a ropes course park in N.H. so they could interview me about my hiking experiences. After having learned about their jaw-dropping accomplishments and experiences, I decided to interview them as well and post a q&a on my blog!  … More Hiker Feature: Alex and Sage Herr

Living in the North Carolina Forest for 9 Days; My Experience at Outward Bound

I’ve always loved to lie in my window-side bed at night, curled up in my fuzzy blankets, listening to a storm rage by. Sheets of rain rap against my window, and wind beats against the other side of my wall. For as long as I can remember, I have loved to lie against that wall, placing my hand up to the few inches of wood and insulation that protect me from the mighty storm. Looking out my window, I feel sheltered; safe- as if I am savoring warm soup on a chilly fall day.

Beneath my open-air tarp on my 9-day Outward Bound trip in the Pisgah Forest of North Carolina, I felt a different mix of emotions when bullets of rain pounded down inches above my face, creating that loud noise of water vs tarp. I did not feel as warm and snuggly as I shivered in my wet sleeping bag, batting moths and beetles away from my headlamp. I can’t quite describe the emotions I felt as I watched with wide open eyes- the battle between nature and tarp. Spoiler Alert: Tarps do not always win. … More Living in the North Carolina Forest for 9 Days; My Experience at Outward Bound

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

Family hiking; Tips for Hiking with Kids

This year, our family observed Father’s Day the weekend after actual Father’s Day.  June 17th was instead devoted to draining textbooks and chicken-scratch notes into my brain for my final exams the following week. So, my dad’s annually requested trip to our Maine house was taken a week later; on the first weekend of summer vacation.

Usually, when I go hiking, it’s just my dad and me (and now Zealand, my dog!). My family as a whole used to hike together more often, but as I’ve grown older and our hikes increased in intensity, my mom and younger sister have become less frequent hikers. However, for as long as I can remember, Father’s Day has been marked by a family hike. After a bit of bribery (with skittles) and downplaying the mileage to convince my sister, Ella (12 yrs), we decided to climb Mt. Monroe. … More Family hiking; Tips for Hiking with Kids