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

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!

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

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

48 Summits and Me

For my first blog post, I’ve thought and thought about why I like to hike. Why I lug myself up and over mountains, even when my body feels like it’s swimming with a weight vest. Why do I keep coming back for more, excited and ready to summit again?

It’s illogical. Why would I walk when I can drive? Why would I camp when I can sleep in a bed? Why would I push my limits to gain altitude? … … More 48 Summits and Me