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
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
I love challenging myself on steep treks, long full-day hikes, and backpacking trips, but as I’ve found over the past few weeks, short day hikes are also really enjoyable ways to get out into the wilderness for a few hours. From the new trails behind of Sunday River to Belknap Mountain to Mt. Major, my recent weekends have been filled with little excursions to immerse myself in nature and see some pretty views. … More A Compilation of Short Day Hikes in ME & NH
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
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?
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!
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?
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.