Another 4000 foot mountain under the belt - this time including a lively discussion about capacity management and vertical scale of our software "stack".
We met as usual for breakfast at the Einstein Bros bagel shop in Concord. I have learned form experience that the Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts en route to Concord are all closed near 5am so I usually skip breakfast and coffee in anticipation of breakfast after the 90min drive.
Breakfast at a bagel shop is a little tricky because you can easily end up with something that is pretty greasy on the bagel. At 7am there is some danger that a greasy meal may not agree with the rest of your day. I was musing about whether I was up for this when I noticed a menu item for smoked Salmon and cream cheese. With a little trimming I was able to order the simplest configuration ("yes, just the salmon and the cream cheese, that's all") and combine it with a dark roast coffee just before Bruce and John arrived.
Mt Hale is the 4th last hike in my list of 4000 footers. It is, like Tecumseh, a hair over 4000ft (4055ft) with a relatively short hike to the summit of 2.2mi. The trailhead is off Zealand Rd and the summit is north of the mountains that we climbed when we did the Pemi loop in 2012.
The weather forecast for the day was mild with a fairly high chance of rain after 2pm. Given how short this hike is and with a start of 10:40am we expected to be done well before 2.
Early on in the hike we crossed a small stream with some short rapids that were flowing pretty well at this time of year.
The gradient is pretty constant and the hike is described as the easiest of all of the 4000 footers and notably doesn't have the chunky scramble over high rocks near the summit that is so typical of the 4000 footers.
At one point we were able to see somewhat of a view from the path but in general this is not a hike that offers much of a view. Even at the summit, which has a fairly large cairn on it, the view was of the trees surrounding us.
We met a few other hikers - in particular a group who were going on to hike Zealand after Hale. They had already resigned themselves to the weather and surprisingly reported that they had rarely hiked up in New Hampshire without getting wet.... John must lead a charmed life because the exact opposite has been true of all of our trips - he usually checks the weather beforehand! We have narrowly escaped getting wet by arriving at the car just as the rain started on two occasions - this being the second of them.
I think that this was the first of our hikes that didn't end with John saying: "Well we cheated death once again...."
We must be getting better at it.
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