Mt. Carrigain – 10/26/18

Hey folks!

It’s the weekend. You know what this means – I’m off to the mountains… except I’m totally not because it’s raining/sleeting/snowing up there. As I’m writing this, it’s down-pouring outside – sad face. But, I have some echinacea tea from Traditional Medicinals with a half of a lemon (10/10 recommend), so I feel nice and cozy.

Knowing the forcasted weather, I obviously went hiking yesterday 🙂

The hike: Mt. Carrigain (4,700 ft). 10.6 miles RT via Signal Ridge Trail.

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That’s the summit up there!

Needless to say by that picture – it’s full on winter conditions in the White Mountains, above 2500/3000 feet or so that is! It’s a great time to hike because you get two seasons in one, fall at the trailhead, and winter on most of the hike! Just be sure to not let the trailhead fool you into not taking enough or the right gear and layers!

I actually hiked Carrigain back on August 16th, and let me tell you that it was MUCH warmer two and a half months ago! This was my 44th peak for the NH 48 round 1, is my 29th for round 2, and I think my 96th 4K summit overall (I need to double check this, so close to 100 and don’t want to miss it!!). Also super happy to tag the summit in another season – FALL! Not very fall-esque, but I digress.

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Signal Ridge Trail, NH

My first go at this hike I was quite apprehensive about. Not out of fear, but just because only one of my friends gave it two thumbs up! Others commented that it was “boring”, “you needed good views at the top as otherwise no views”, “the 3 mile uphill drags on”, ect. I just kept putting it off and putting it off.

But, I loved it in August! We even added 4 miles to the August hike because the access road was closed due to storm damage and I still enjoyed it! Yes, those comments are true – there aren’t many views until the summit and it surely is a consistent uphill for about 3 miles, but I honestly don’t mind these factors one bit. I think this speaks to how much I enjoy hiking for what it is, not only for the views. If I only wanted views I’d be one of those leaf peeing people slamming on their brakes on the highway to take foliage pictures.

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Looking down at Signal Ridge Trail from the summit tower on Carrigain

This time, the access road was open – but this will very soon change as Sawyer River Rd. is seasonally open and with the early snowfall and fast accumulation this year, I would give it another week or two at best unless it’s suddenly 75 degrees again outside which who knows, never say never.

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Candid. Sipping turmeric ginger tea, pointing at a snowy Mt. Washington, & very happy as I just put toe warmers in my boots!

Carrigain is one of my faves now – road open or closed. Signal Ridge Trail starts off flat with a few rolling hills sparsely placed throughout the first section. Once hitting the junction with Carrigain Notch Trail, we continued on Signal Ridge which begins to slowly start gaining elevation for about a half mile. After this point, it’s a consistent climb with some switchbacks up to the first open area where it then levels off for a short distance before the final push to the summit!

My favorite section both times hands down is the open area along the ridge before the summit. It’s absolutely gorgeous. This time, it also was absolutely covered in snow drifts.

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Making my way through snow taller than me!

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Whoops, I sunk! This was the only section we had issues with sinking!

I really needed this hike yesterday. Safe to say even more than I usually do when I “need to hike”. Between a few back to back hike plans that just didn’t work out, and not feeling like soloing right now, I was very happy to get out. It was kind of spur of the moment as I asked my friend Lawn’s (my friend group has stellar nicknames for each other!) dad who regularly hikes if I could tag along this week and he said yes! So I got my hiking fix, played around in the fluffy snow, and enjoyed the day with two new hiking buddies (Hiker Dad – yep, this is his nickname from Lawn, and Bob)!

At the most basic level, what I needed was to spend a day outside without real life distractions, and some socialization. I’ve had a lot of alone time lately, which while I enjoy it, too much of anything can be a problem. I’m happy to have turned that page a little bit yesterday.

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” ― Rumi

XO, S

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The Hancocks – 10/8/18

Hey frands!

You will never guess what I did on Columbus Day this year (yes, I realize this was a week and a half ago, I’m busy… chill). Went for a hike. Shocker, I know.

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Hancock Notch Trail, NH

Panda and I last minute, literally on the drive up, changed our original plan of the Carters to the Hancock duo – aka North Hancock and South Hancock! We did this because even though the weather forecast said 0% chance of rain and some clouds that was most definitely not the case. The Hancocks are a great iffy weather pick, because they are entirely under tree-line, nor do they have wide open summits. I think the weather is becoming less accurate as of late, at least in the mountains. And mountain weather is already less stable than the “regular” weather, so that’s saying something.

Needless to say, we had ourselves some STELLAR views. Insert all possible sarcasm.

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The clouds looked great. 10/10

It’s not about the views though, rather the selfies. Again, joking. So much sarcasm lately, I can barely tell if I’m being honest or not. This is most definitely a joke, hiking is NOT about selfies. Although they are fun! Also, please note that we are wearing the same hat. Yes, this was most certainty planned. Matching makes you hike faster 😉

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Where did Pan go?!

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Oh good, found her ♥♥

This was round 2 for me and 3 for Pan for the Hancocks! The last time I was here it was the middle of winter, January 2017! There wasn’t a view for that trip either, I guess Mother Nature doesn’t want me to experience the views the Hancocks have to offer! Sad face. One of my current goals post finishing the NH 48 4k’s is to hike them in all four seasons (which will likely eventually lead to hiking them all in every single month – aka the grid, because I’m cool like that).

I have to say, fall > winter for these. Why? Let’s recap:

This hike starts off on the Hancock Notch Trail, which is relatively flat and easy terrain. After 1.8 miles you bear left onto Cedar Brook Trail which runs another 0.7 miles and alike the first trail, is flat and mellow. This hike would overall be a great one for mountain/trail running and I’ve made a note of this on my excel spreadsheet to make this one a run for the spring and summer seasons – perhaps I’ll even snag a view or two!

The next section is where things get a little dicey. After the 0.7 you bear right onto Hancock Loop Trail for 1.1 miles and then get to choose either left, towards North Peak which is 0.7 away, or right, towards South peak which is 0.5 away. Well, the .7 & .5 are not exactly flat or easy or mellow or any other word that would be synonymous with those. It’s not ridiculously steep, and this is of course quite relative to my personal opinion, but it’s steep nonetheless.

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Pictures never do steepness justice. Also note, #teamnopants per usual

Both times now I’ve ascended South and descended North and I most definitely prefer this. South is steeper, not by much, but it is. North is narrower so I can grab a tree quicker when I decide to trip myself. This is exactly why I prefer this hike in the fall > winter. I don’t love steep terrain in the months where everything is snow covered because you kind of just slide everywhere and I also tend to fall uphill a lot. Although, butt sledding down this was a BLAST! But rocky and steep terrain is my jam so I’m looking forward to a late spring and summer hike for these peaks!

The section between summits is rather mellow, some ups and downs but nothing too much! Overall, this hike is one of the easier ones on the 4K list in my humble opinion. We even met some cool friends….

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Gray Jay!

After the loop we were back on the flat trails we had frolicked that morning and enjoyed taking MANY pictures of leaves on our way back to the car. It amazes me how gorgeous the forest is when you stop and observe it. All of the trees, colored leaves, little streams. I really don’t understand why some people (who have access) don’t utilize the space that is the wilderness. There is something quite magical about being in the middle of nowhere, breathing in fresh air, and moving your body in one of the most natural forms of movement – walking.

Something I want to start doing with my hike write-ups is getting a quick recap in the words of whoever I hiked with that day! So, I asked Pan to give me a brief synopsis she provided the following haiku:

“We went on a hike

It was cloudy and rainy

But we saw Gray Jays”

I have the coolest friends.

“Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted.” ― Sylvia Plath

XO, S

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Final NH 4K’s – Bonds 9/9/18 & LIFE shenanigans

Hey folks!

Grab a coffee (or tea), sit down, and get ready to read and look at pretty pictures of mountains. This is a long one.

Ugh, guys, I have so many feels right now. Well, not specifically RIGHT.THIS.EXACT.MOMENT, but lately.

Why, you might ask? So many exciting and new things going on in this so called game of life and I’m just uber digging it. And, I feel weird to say I’m uber digging the life game, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve said that and meant it. In fact, it feels so weird that I’ve purposefully been quite absent on all forms of social media and even in real life recently because my brain has needed some major space for processing and not having a meltdown over sheer excitement/being stoked.

I’m ranting.

You see, I have this tendency to get super uppity and happy about things and then almost wear myself out on the idea and find myself running into a brick wall, losing interest and becoming, well, kind of in the dumps from an emotional perspective. Blaming that I’m a Gemini? Maybe. Blaming that I’m simply a feeler of all things and that I need to really feel and process things but rarely give myself the light of day for the ladder? More likely (but being a Gem’ prob isn’t super helpful. Kidding, kind of.).

Anyways. I’ve given myself space to just feel things. Space to take a step back and remember why I am going after all that I’m pursuing. Why it’s even important to me as a human in the first place. I’m allowing myself space to think, process, and fall back in love with my dreams, goals, and most importantly – my life. I feel that by letting go of the “shoulds” I had previously set for myself regarding school, a career, and even just how my life looked on the outside has proven beneficial in me feeling much more grounded and even productive. I’m half winging it and half going with what I know deep down to be my path? And, honestly, it has actually been a really neat (and semi terrifying) process.

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Motto 😉

What have I been up to during my intentional hiatus? I finished the NH 48 4000 footers (more on this below!), I got into a dual-degree program and am now simultaneously an undergrad (psych) and grad (nutritional sci) student, I’ve accepted a position for independent contract work to take over a bootcamp program hosted through a local CrossFit, this blog is no longer .wordpress.com but rather .com (YASSSSSS), and oh – I’ve been taking care of myself and honoring my unique quirky needs physically/mentally/emotionally and it’s been rather rad.

“She remembered who she was and the game changed” – Lalah Delia

Let’s talk mountains, before I get all emotionally sappy on you.

THE BONDS.

Hands down my favorite hike to date. Isolation is my second love.

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Our (Amanda (Pan) and I) approach was to out and back from Zealand Rd. making the trip 19.8 miles and 4,850 ft. elevation gain. Yippee.

We started off from Zealand Rd. at the Zealand Trail trailhead. The first 2.5 mile chunk of this hike is pancake flat (okay, there are rocks and roots, I admit). This brings you up to the Zealand Falls hut which we made a quick pit stop at to pee and take off a layer as the morning was a nippy one and took a bit to get warmed up! From here, we continued up to the first summit of the day – Zealand Mountain. Zealand has a special place in my heart as this was my first 4k back after my injury (I’ll delve into this more). At this point I felt really good, looking forward to tackling the many miles ahead and happy to be frolicking in the middle of nowhere with Pan.

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Zealand summit is the most exciting….

Between Zealand and Guyot went by rather quick and let me tell you the views from Guyot had me giddy for what was to come. I was also mildly excited for the champagne Pan brought along to celebrate my finish on Bondcliff (the final peak for the day), and getting the epic Bondcliff clif shot. We continued, onward, upward, and a solid amount of downward. The third peak was West Bond. West Bond isn’t on the out and back hike per se, but is a small (0.5 mi) spur trail off of the trail between Guyot and Mt. Bond. OKAY, West Bond is probably my favorite of the Bond trio because it’s 1. GORGEOUS, and 2. off the beaten path unlike the others and therefore gives off a much more secluded wilderness vibe.

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Cairn atop West Bond

After a snack and photo op we headed back to the main trail and continued our walk to Mt. Bond. It was at this moment of sumitting that I made the slightly awkward to Pan (and extremely awkward on my blog) statement that I was 98.5% sure mother nature just blessed me with that monthly present (TMI? Sorry not sorry… My website 😉 ). I had feels it was coming, and after having been blessed with it on Owls’ head (the second longest 4K hike, I pretty much knew I was in for it on the Bonds). We quickly left the Bond summit and headed to Bondcliff via a detour in the middle of the woods to, ya know, deal with feminine things and jazz. THANKFULLY nobody else was super close by at this point. Hands down honest, I wasn’t even mad or annoyed about it. Like, yeah, it’s a hassle but after losing my cycle for three years due to complications from my eating disorder, getting it on my last 4K hike almost seemed like it was meant to happen, kind of like a sign that I am “doing things right” for myself, my body, and my life.

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From Guyot, headed back to the car

Once at Bondcliff we broke out (popped) the champagne and had a series of photo-ops and random “ahhhhhhh” moments of finishing the list. The whole thing was surreal and kind of felt like a dream but also so real. I think part of me felt I would never finish. And, I think finishing was the ultimate icing on the cake for proving to myself that I can in-fact accomplish challenging aspirations. Admittedly, we hung around at Bondcliff longer than anticipated and once finally moving and grooving again we decided to book it as we wanted to be back to the hut and therefore onto the flatter miles by dark. Besides a few stops to pee, layer swap, and take way too many pictures of endless mountains, we made good time back and were at the hut just after sunset. I do enjoy hiking in the dark, it’s such a different ballgame and really allows you to experience the outside world. All in all the Bonds were a mix of everything and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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Smiles for all the miles

This hike has surely been a long time coming after dealing with a stress fractured fibula in April 2017. That was my first stress fracture since 2012 and a big smack in the face. I didn’t see it coming, at all. In hindsight, I was running too frequently for my body and therefore going beyond my body’s ability to adapt and recover from the breakdown I was putting it through. Healing this injury took more mentally than it did physically as I had at this point completed 27/48 4K’s and was legit head over heels for hiking. I felt extremely uncomfortable, unsure of how to manage the mass of internal dialogue, and anxious to get back to hiking. Having dealt with similar injuries prior and not fully healing them or myself I knew that I needed to actually FULLY heal before getting back to hiking to ensure I could continue this newfound love of mine for years/decades/the rest of my life.

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Bondcliff shot uno

I didn’t “plan” to talk about that injury in this post, but it kind of flowed in. And, to be honest, it’s the first injury I didn’t subsequently relapse after and I think that’s actually a big f*cking deal and it’s something to be talked about. I think it shows 1. how much I’ve grown into myself, 2. how much I truly LOVE hiking and outdoor adventuring, and 3. how #2 aided in the development of #1.

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Bondcliff shot dos

Throughout my journey of hiking the 4000 footers from July 2016-September 2018:

I have stress fractured a fibula and healed it. Changed my college major. Applied to and have started graduate school (noting that for a hot minute I was convinced I needed to stop school because my mental health plummeted last Spring SUBSTANTIALLY). Accepted a position that scares the shiiiiiit out of me, but that I’m tackling because it’s so incredibly the right move for ME. Reduced the amount of time I spend inside the gym lifting and increased the amount I spend outside hiking, biking, running. Took up new hobbies such as indoor rock climbing (outdoor soon?!) and trail/gravel biking. Developed a better relationship with my being around body-image, self-awareness, my internal voice, and just how I approach things.

It changes you, hiking 48 mountains. Not so secretly, I’ve repeated so many that I’m now at 87 NH 4K summits!!!!!!! I randomly counted the other day and was half floored. It’s not even that many, in the grand scheme, but looking back to the girl that was extremely lost, confused, unsure if she could actually seriously make it in the world before this journey – those 87 summits mean something. They mean a lot of somethings.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from perfect. But, I found something that has not once made me feel like I need to be perfect, or have my life together, or never make a mistake. I have found something that is equally healing and challenging. Hiking has pushed me in ways I have never been pushed and allowed me to cultivate skills that I’m not sure I would have otherwise ever learned. It has brought amazing people into my life who I’m beyond grateful to call friends, provided me a gateway to grow in other domains of my life, and allowed me space to think and feel and process. Two years and two months after the start of this journey, I can firmly state that hiking is absolutely my jam.

“Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?” – Rumi

XO, S

The Wildcats – 6/19/18

Hey folks!

While I have recently posted some updates around my life, I haven’t posted about any of my recent hikes (and you all know I’ve been up to some serious hiking). I won’t post about every single recent hike but I will be sharing some recaps from a few top hikes this summer.

The Wildcats: 2 peaks on the NH 4000 footer list (Wildcat A and Wildcat D) with 3 peaks (B, C, and E) not being “official” 4K list makers because they lack the elevation loss/gain needed to meet list requirements. Dang rules.

Amanda had just returned back from her trip to Hawaii and we chose this hike on the basis that it wasn’t uber long and we both loved it when we hiked it back in fall of 2016. I was really pumped because this meant I was going to get the peaks in another season – summer. I’m working on two lists right now – finishing the 4000 footers (even though I’ve now repeated 27 of them tehe) and hiking all of the peaks in each season!

The drive to this hike is about 2 hours, while not short, it’s not the longest either! We decided to stop for coffee at one of our favorite local coffee shops to fully caffeinate ourselves for the drive (and hopefully hike!). One thing I’ve been dealing with the past few months now is car sickness. It’s something I’ve dealt with on/off but used to really only happen when sitting in the back seat. Well, I pretty much have to be driving now for it to not happen. What’s up with that?! Silly belly. I think I may have been just having a bad day though because I felt off for most of the hike.

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View of the Presidential Range from an open area headed up E peak

There are a couple of route options for this hike and we choose the same approach as the first time, creatures of habit I suppose. It’s also the quickest, read: steepest. Our hike started out at Glen Ellis Falls which has you cross the river as the first part of the trail. When the water levels aren’t too high it’s fairly rock hoppable if you’ve got good balance! From this point, it’s a moderate to steep climb right off the bat and for most of the trip up to E peak. The route we picked has you head up E peak first, then D, C, B, A. Although to be honest, C and B are really hard to distinguish because they are wooded and there are A LOT of ups and downs along the Wildcat Ridge Trail WRT between E and A. Once at E peak we continued for a hop and skip to D peak which is very obvious once you’ve arrived because there’s a lookout tower on top!

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In the winter, Wildcat is a ski mountain!

At this point, a bulk of the hike was more open areas and a fair amount of exposure, especially on the steeper scrambles of E peak. But heading from D peak to A peak is a mainly wooded trail that continuously rises and falls over the “lesser peaks”. On the way to A peak, there was a lot of excitement, but also the occasional comment about how many downhills there were and how they would be uphills on the way back! I kept seeing bees, which no thankfully I’m not allergic, but had a bad experience with them on a hike a while back (we walked over a nest in the ground and got stung a bunch!), so I’m somewhat super hesitant.

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View from along the Wildcat Ridge Trail

 

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View from A peak

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Amanda taking in the views!

Last time we hiked the Wildcats we had utilized this cool rock that kind of makes the perfect chair for a photo-opt… whelp, we obviously had to do the same this time. Mind you, this chair rock I speak of, it’s on the edge of a clif. #liveontheedge ? I’m safe I promise. Pinky promise. But c’mon.

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Look at all the mountains!!!!

The official summit is in a wooded spot right near this lookout area (where I’m sitting on my throne 😉 ) and is marked by a small cairn. After making sure to visit the official marker we began our way back to the car. I will say, while I love all hiking, I’m a big fan of traverses and loop hikes as opposed to out and backs. It just changes it up versus seeing the same trail twice. At least it’s from a different direction though!

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Happy hikers!

The return trip was mainly uneventful. I kept asking Amanda how many more “ups” there were. The answer? A lot. I do feel like the trip back to D peak from A is faster than from D to A… which makes zero sense but I remember thinking this the first time we hiked the Wildcats too! The river crossing I gave up on, which was planned because it was so hot and humid out. Why rock hop when you can walk right through it!!!! Well, in the summer months of course! No walking through rivers in the dead of winter.

I eventually want to hike/run the entire Wildcat Carter Moriah traverse, classified as one of the White Mountain death marches… how lovely. So this was another reason for this hike – I wanted to see the Wildcats again before embarking on the much longer trip!

Overall I loved this hike as much as I did the first time! I think I can say that for almost all of the repeats I’ve done to this point. Even though I had already experienced the summits and trail, the day was new and therefore a new adventure was to be had!

“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.” – Susan Cain