Friday, July 5, 2013

Epic Hikes: Passaconaway and Whiteface

Two more of the 4000ft high peaks in New Hampshire under the belt today but these didn't come without cost.

Like the Pemi-Loop that John and I did in 2011 the temperatures and humidity were way up.  In the valley, the temperatures got into the 90s (32C) and the humidity close to 80%.  Up in the mountains when we were hiking on the lee side it felt like the temperatures were in the 80s and there was no relief with humidity levels that high.

We started at 7am at Einstein Bros in Concord (pronounced like conquered not con-cord as my traveling companions were quick to point out each time I said the town name) and made the 90 minute drive up to the trailhead in early morning temperatures in the mid-70s.

Our friends, Mike and Tony joined us for the trip and though there was a bit of a breeze across the open field near the car park, we were already pretty overheated when we started out.

The hike actually starts on farm property, a lovely house nestled in under the Whiteface mountain behind it.

The breeze that seemed so promising was not blowing in the foothills though the hiking was relatively easy.  On a fall day it would be a very pleasant hike but in the heat I found myself wondering how well we would handle the relatively steep sections that were inevitable near the top.

The steep climbing was quite impressive with a wall followed by some rather large slabs.  There were plenty of places to hold on to and despite some concern over footing, we were able to get up these slabs rather easily after taking a bit of a break below them.

After this the going got tough.  The mountain is not much harder a climb than the many other 4000ft peaks we have done but the heat and humidity sapped our strength relentlessly to the point where there was a discussion about not doing the side trip to Passaconaway.

Being as close as I am to getting all 48 (32 done by the end of today) I found myself making insisting that I wanted to complete the hike as planned and at the junction after some hesitation everyone decided to go on to the final push.

To be fair, Mike had said all along that he was not sure about doing both peaks and Bruce has done them already.  Tony was somewhat indifferent, these being his first 2 of 48 (Bruce somewhat ruthlessly suggested that he should not count the peaks they had bagged during their college years if he does decide to go ahead and get them all).

Anyway, the short of it was that I was the only one who really felt the "need" to carry on so I took it as a very kind gesture from them all.

A small breeze had picked up along the ridge after Whiteface and some B12 and Omega3 chews from Mike, along with the gatorade that is now a constant supplement in my bag during hikes helped to fuel the last push.

We came down the Diceys Mill Trail and Mike pointed out that this section of the trail passes through some of the original forest.  Most of the woods in New England were cleared between the Settlers arrival in the 1800s and the 1930s.  The wood was used for timber for homes, textiles and paper over the years.  This section of the forest still houses trees that have been around for about 300 years.

We exited across a the river close to the farmsteads at the trailhead.  We were somewhat in a hurry to get to the car and the beer and thwarted Mike's desire to get his feet wet in the stream.

We "wet our whistles" instead in a tavern in the town of Merrill, NH and had sandwiches to keep the wolf from the door until we got home later.

Oddly, despite suffering through this we did it 30min shorter than John and Bruce had taken a year ago...

Another great, if hot, day in the hills.

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