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Mt. Pierce – 11/18/18

Hey folks!

Guess what I did last Sunday? This is a hard one… I know.

I went hiking. I mean, c’mon obviously what else would I do with my free time 😉

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Crawford Path, NH

The peak of choice was Mt. Pierce, and this hike makes round TEN hiking Pierce for me. That’s nuts. I mean, it’s not that nuts… many others have hiked it 2, 3, even 10 times that. But, it still mildly blows my mind that I have fallen so in love with the mountains that I simply continue to make the drive to hike these beauteous peaks time and time again without question. What started off as a fun hobby has turned into a large part of my being. I feel so fulfilled and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So how was round 10 you wonder?

Glorious and rather snowy.

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Looking at Eisenhower, Franklin, Monroe, & Northern Presidential Range

You can surely say winter has fully arrived in the White Mountains.

Mt. Pierce holds such a special place in my heart you guys. Casually over here writing a hike recap getting all emotional and such. #typicalSarah. I blame femaleness and hormones. I kid, I kid…. kinda. But, in all seriousness, this mountain in particular has been one that has helped me process a lot of stuff. I find myself hiking it when I need brain space, likely because I know the trail so well, it’s not a technical climb, and (knock on all the possible wood) I’ve never had any negative experiences hiking/summiting it (well, if you don’t count -40F windchill as a negative… which I surely don’t – it was exhilarating (and no, I didn’t get frostbite)!).

What I’m trying to say, is I really dig this hike. Likely my forever favorite.

My friend Shawn and I took Crawford Path up and down totaling 6.2 miles for the hike. It’s a quickie, which is uber useful when mid-winter conditions have arrived in mid-November and accepting this is presenting to be a challenge.

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DEF winter when your hair freezes during the hike!

I hadn’t hiked in a few weeks prior to this one because it has been winter up in the mountains but still fall here where I live so I was embracing the heck out of crunchy leaves vs. fluffy snow. The recent weather change up and snow last Friday in southern NH left me wanting winter hiking. To top that, another 3-4 inches of snow came yesterday – looks like winter hiking season is heading into full swing folks.

In the grand scheme of things, this hike was a goodie. Rather uneventful aka nothing out of the ordinary happened, not too chilly – about 19F at the car and 5F at summit, allowed me to get my mind back to winter hiking conditions, and provided me with mountain time. I have a love/hate relationship with winter and winter hiking. On one side of the spectrum I think it’s beautiful and fun, while on the other side I’m more stimulated from a sensory perspective and my body tolerates cold terribly.

But the beauty and pure simplicity of winter:

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For me, hiking is part of who I am and who I intend to continue being. Winter hiking allows me to further challenge myself, my comfort zones, my tolerance, my understanding of my needs, and my relationship with both myself and the mountains. It’s honestly rather neat and extremely satisfying.

To leave this post I want to wish all of you stellar humans a happy Thanksgiving. And, for those of you who read my blog and also struggle actively with or are in remission from an eating disorder/disordered eating or misophonia – just go have a day tomorrow. It doesn’t NEED to be good or bad. Just a day. Continue forward. Continue on your path. Continue trying to respect your needs and yourself as a person. Step by step go through the day. It’s that simple. It’s honestly not simple, and likely feels scary/fearful/terrifying – but just move through it and when the day ends leave it there. Whatever happened happened. You had a day. That’s all and that’s it. Leave it or explore it, that’s entirely up to you. But know that whatever you’re feeling is validated and that you’re well-being is oh so worth it. Acknowledge where you are at in your journey, what your human experience feels like, and make note of it – it’s where you are at right now not who you are. It’s a portion of the sum of all of your parts.

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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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