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!
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.
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