Monday, October 11, 2010

One More Day To Hike? Oh, What the Hale!

With three perfect days down in our four day weekend we could have just packed up, taken a nice drive, had lunch and headed home and been perfectly satisfied. We had started the weekend out with the idea of adding a few new checkmarks to our 4k list but we had been lead down other paths (and not been unhappy about it in the least). With three great days of hiking though we really had the bug and just going home on another beautiful fall day without one last hike would just be a sin. And if that hike happened to be a peak that wasn't yet on the list, well so much the better. We needed to be home on the early side and anticipating the holiday traffic (or under-anticipating as it turned out) we had to find something fairly quick. Mt Hale fit the bill perfectly on all counts.

Heading up Crawford Notch for the third straight morning we encountered none of the locals that we had on the previous days. We were greeted by only sunny blue skies which was just fine! We got to the Hale Brook trailhead at a bit past 8:30 and headed out. Unfortunately by the time we got there the skies had clouded over and the blue sky that we'd pictured seeing through the birches was not to be. The trail was nice all the way up and the clouds did nothing to dampen our spirits. We passed a couple of obviously early starters who were most of the way back down by the time we started, but for the most part we had the place to ourselves on the way up.

On the summit we headed to the top of the cairn to see if we could get any glimpse of views but no such luck. It was quite breezy and cold on the summit (although after Moosilauke on Saturday this felt relatively balmy). Checking #22 off the list we haeded back down to make a bee-line for lunch and to beat the traffic home. Part way down we passed a couple of hikers on the way up. I was wearing my 2010 Seek the Peak shirt and one of them commented "Seek the Peak - nice!" as we breezed by. I almost stopped to ask if they'd done STP but we were in heads down mode and I just mumbled "thanks" and we kept moving. Turns out that it was MelNino from the OBS forum who was doing some weekend peak bagging. I'm now really that I didn't stop and say hi. We really shouldn't ever be in that much of a hurry in the woods. Sorry Mel.

We we back down at noon and headed over to Highland Center for a bowl of soup and chili before heading home. As it turned out we didn't beat the traffic after all and our usual 3-1/2 hour drive home turned into over 5 - but even that couldn't do anything to spoil and absolutely fantastic fall weekend in our mountain home away from home!!!


Hale Brook Trail

A break in the clouds brings out the real autumn beauty

Hale Brook

Autumn transformations

Can't even find a view up here - but who cares!


All the pics (but no more views) here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mtruman42/MtHale101110#

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Zeacliff Trail Leads To All 10’s On 10-10-10

Last October we managed to turn a rainy fall Saturday into a really nice day hiking through Zealand Valley to Thoreau Falls with great friends. There are probably no days that this isn't a beautiful place but fall is a particularly nice time. On that hike as we headed out Ethan Pond and past the Zeacliff trail junction I remarked that I'd really like to come back and do that trail someday. On the same weekend this year with a perfect sunny, clear bluebird day we got our chance! So on Sunday morning we headed up through Crawford Notch for day three of our amazing Columbus Day weekend trip.


After our meeting with the moose in Crawford Notch the morning before we had hoped we might meet another of the locals this morning. We pulled into the "scenic view" lot on 302 to check out the Mt Washington views and indeed met one of the locals, but not a moose. Jim Salge was also there capturing the beautiful morning light. For such a big expanse of mountains it certainly is a small world. We chatted with Jim for a few minutes and I grabbed a couple of shots before we headed off (which as I expected didn't capture the view anything like Jim's). Check out Jim's versions to see what the light was really like here: http://tinyurl.com/2cmkn9h and here: http://tinyurl.com/247fcje


Autumn and winter meet



The hike out through the valley on the Zealand and Ethan Pond trails was beautiful.





Arriving at the Zeacliff Trail junction we got a look across the valley at our destination.





The trail down into the valley is certainly steep and rocky but easy to negotiate.





At the bottom of the valley we crossed Whitewall Brook and found ourselves in one of the most beautiful, secluded spots that we've been in the Whites.





The trail up the other side was steep, rough and rocky as advertised. It was also great fun! Definitely better going up rather than down though. I feel bad for the folks that occasionally follow the Zeacliff trail signs from the Twinway thinking that it leads to Zeacliff and then finding themselves down here.





The walk through the large white birch glade on the top of the ridge was beautiful





There was a bit of fun ledge scrambling near the top (but nothing too tough).





Reaching the top we decided to turn left on the Twinway and make our way over to Zeacliff Pond. We'd skipped this little detour last time we went by and it seemed like it was worth the extra mile this time. Was it ever! What a beautiful little hidden gem. The views of Carrigain over the pond are awesome. Perfect spot to sit in solitude and have our lunch.





Heading back up the Twinway it was a quick trip out to Zeacliff. The views along the way of the northern Presi's gave us a good taste of what was ahead. There were quite a few people hanging out on the cliff (as expected) but we got ourselves a nice secluded spot at the very end and settled down for a long time to soak in the amazing views.


Presi views from the Twinway



The crowd on Zeacliff



Amazing Pemi vista



Looking like winter on high



Great place to hang out



But do you really need THIS close a look!?



Nothing but smiles for a place like this



We grudgingly pried ourselves away from the views and headed down to the hut. Lots of day trippers and weekend overnighters hanging out on the porch. We spent a bit of time hanging out on the rocks at the brook and checking out the valley views from a new angle before heading down.


Nice fall views from the hut



Whitewall Brook



The hike down was nice and we shared the trail with another hiker from Boston who we'd run into several times on the way to the hut. Nice conversation made for a very enjoyable trip out. As we past the last of the beaver ponds the winds had died and left us with this beautiful reflection and great ways to reflect on a perfect day.





Lots more pictures here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mtruman42/Zeacliff101010#

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Moosilauke Goes to the Dogs - 10-9-10

ay two of our Columbus Weekend stay in the Whites promised to be a perfect day. After arriving on Friday we got a couple of invitations to join the VFTT dog hike on Moosilauke on Saturday and we jumped at the chance to meet some of the familiar faces from the forums and spend a great day on a great mountain with the dogs. 

We had done Moosilauke for the first time early last November on a sunny, blue, warm and windless day. (I know, not the usual fall conditions - or even summer for that matter). We did that on by Gorge Brook and this one was up the Benton Trail so while it was the same mountain it was a really different (and really nice) hike. Several people asked us about our choice to pass up another checkmark or two on our 4k list for this hike. One thing for sure, I'll never trade a great day in the mountains with good friends for a checkmark!

Since Kevin already posted such a great account of the day I don't need to repeat that part (see the Dog-i-lauke TR). I'll just say that this was a great day with great folks and a perfect way to spend an amazing fall day. I will add my version of the images of the hike to complement the excellent ones Kevin already provided.

The drive up through Crawford Notch, Bethlehem and down through Franconia was beautiful on Saturday morning (as well as on the way back in the afternoon). No leaf peeper traffic and some really spectacular sights. We knew that this was going to be a good day when we saw our first moose shortly after leaving the hotel in Crawford Notch. Pretty amazing that we haven't seen one before now with all the time we've spent in ME and NH over the years. Good omen for things ahead.

Morning light in Crawford Notch


One of the locals...


The dogs are getting warmed up


Nat and Val pushing through the wind to the summit


Behold, the power of cheese!


Beautiful views breaking in Tunnel Ravine on the way down


Tunnel Brook


Already planning the next hikes


Hidden gem along Rt 16 in Franconia on the way back



Lots more pictures here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mtruman42/MtMoosilaukeDogHike10910#

Friday, October 08, 2010

Welch and Dickey Weekend Warm Up - 10-8-10

On Wednesday last week we made a last minute decision to try to escape the craziness of the last few months and get to the mountains one more time this fall. Hmmm. Escaping the craziness on Columbus Day weekend in the Whites? Yup. And did it ever work! We were lucky enough to find a room at Attitash (maybe the only place that still had one). Heading up on Friday morning it was smooth sailing through the Boston traffic and signs of great things to come for the next 4 days.

We'd managed to knock a few more 4k's off our list before the end of summer and figured we would get a few more this weekend. First priority though - places to enjoy the end of the great fall colors and beautiful views. For that there couldn't be many better choices than Welch and Dickey. After driving all the way up under brilliant blue cloudless skies we pulled in under the southern edge of the cloud canopy at around noon. The clouds may have been hanging over the trails, but the views to the south were spectacular. The fall colors were still in full swing down here and we had an afternoon of amazing views. 

The trails were good with only a bit of avoidable mud left from the recent rains. Many of the ledges were wet - some with running water - but the footing was all generally fine as long as we were a bit careful. We did the usual counter-clockwise loop over Welch and then Dickey. The parking lot had been quite full (particularly for a weekday) but everyone else must have been going the same way and been ahead of us because we had the mountains mostly to ourselves. A great walk, great views and a perfect start to a great weekend! Story to be continued...

Nice autumn day in the woods


Heading out onto the first Welch ledges


Still great fall colors here


Foliage on fire on Welch summit


Nat heading across the ledges


Gumdrop forrest


The complete album is here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mtruman42/WelchDickey10810#