Oct
27
2016
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A Look Back at Our NH48 Journey

We did it! We completed all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000-footers. With this goal done, I thought I’d give a review of our journey from start to end.

5 years, 1 month, 25 days
That’s the amount of time it took for us to complete the NH48. The first was Mount Washington on July 23, 2011 and the last one was Wildcat Mountain, A Peak on September 17, 2016.

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Mount Washington

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Wildcat, A Peak

A breakdown of how many mountains we hiked each year:

  • 2011 = 1
  • 2012 = 1
  • 2013 = 11
  • 2014 = 5
  • 2015 = 23
  • 2016 = 7

We didn’t initially set out to complete the NH48.

Our first goal (and one that has yet to be completed) was to hike all the highest natural points in the United States. We began highpointing in college and continued sporadically post-graduation. Mount Washington was our first 4,000-footer but it was hiked with the intention of checking it off the highpoint list. We slowed down as the combination of mountains being located further away and full-time jobs took our attention. We decided that we should focus closer to home and came up with our second goal of completing the NH48.

We failed to hike/summit four times.

I’m going to officially say it was four as we did set foot on the trails leading up to the mountains but there were a few times in the beginning of our journey where we drove, encountered torrential downpours, and didn’t want to hike in such weather, or simply wanted to sleep in.

The hikes we failed to complete the first time around but eventually got to were:

  • Mount Passaconaway
  • Wildcat Mountain, D Peak
  • Mount Cabot (failed twice)
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A photo from our failed Passaconaway hike.

We’ve had one family member, eight friends, and three dogs join us on our hikes.

The one family member, Chris’ father, is no stranger to the White Mountains and has hiked many of the 4,000 footers himself. One friend completed the Appalachian Trail a few years back. However, many of our friends have never hiked the White Mountains before so what better way to hang out with them and pop their White Mountain’s cherry than to invite them on a hike? Plus, we told them that was the only way they could hang out with us during the summers.

Abby joined us on a few NH48 hikes.

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Father and son hanging out near the Carters.

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Kim and I on Mount Hale.

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Molly with us on Mount Garfield.

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The UMass gang on Mount Moriah.

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The boys on Mount Monroe.

Milo hasn’t completed the NH48.

Though Milo has been on a majority of the NH48 hikes with us, he is still eight shy. Why? He didn’t come into our lives until 2012 and we waited until he fully developed before we brought him in tow. Add to that times where he had hot spots or wounded pads where we didn’t want them to get worse or infected. And, a hike or two where we thought it would be teeming with dogs – we like to sometimes say that Milo has a Napoleon complex.

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One of the many naps Milo took on our hikes.

We’ve camped 9 times.

We only camped when it made sense for mileage and peak bagging. Other than that, it was the good old routine of waking up at the crack of dawn, driving the 2 – 3 hours to the Whites, hiking for the day, and driving the 2 – 3 hours home.

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Camping it out on our Garfield/Galehead hike.

There were two night hikes.

There were two times where we didn’t complete the hikes in the expected time. The first, Mount Jefferson and Mount Adams, had tough terrain. The second, Owl’s Head, well…enough said on that one.

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A photo from our Jefferson-Adams day turned night hike.

Our favorite hike is…

My favorite hike is Mount Moosilauke. It was a difficult hike as the Beaver Brook Trail is steep but it was great hiking next to the Beaver Brooke Cascades.

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Trying not to get blown away on Moosilauke.

Chris’ favorite hike is Mount Lafayette and Mount Lincoln as it includes the Franconia Ridge Trail (also part of the Appalachian Trail) which has great 360-degree views of the surrounding White Mountains.

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Look at that Franconia Ridge Trail.

Our least favorite hike is…

Owl’s Head. Honestly, I think it’s about 99% of everyone’s least favorite hike for those who are accomplishing the NH48. It’s just a long hike for a view-less summit. Many times it’s not included in the Flags over the 48 on 9/11. Chris jokes that it should be called Flags over the 47 because of that.

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Don’t let this smile fool you. Behind it lies disappointment in a lack of summit view.

What’s next?

There are a lot goals on our ever growing list. There’s still our first, the 50 U.S. highpoints, which I foresee will take us years to finish. Ideally, our next goals would be to round out the NH48 by completing the New England 4,000-footers, or attempting the Adirondack 46ers, or Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway. Who knows where the adventure will take us next but I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

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Written by ettran in: NH48,White Mountains | Tags: , ,
Sep
28
2016
0

The Last Ones: The Wildcats

Guess what?! We finished our NH48 journey with the Wildcats two weekends ago! It’s been a long journey filled with mixed emotions. It’s a relief to know that we finished our goal but what to do next? Before we get ahead of ourselves, a recap of our last NH48 hike.

Located in Gorham, Wildcat – D Peak (4,070 feet) and Wildcat – A Peak (4,422 feet) are a moderate to difficult 8.4-mile hike. Wildcat has five summits but only A and D are part of the 4,000-footers. You’ll most likely hit all five summits if you’re peak bagging.

It was a late morning start, around 9:30 a.m. as it was a long drive from home. Once we arrived at the Glen Ellis parking lot off of Route 16, we were able to snag a spot as it was almost full. We started the hike by crossing under Route 16 through the foot tunnel and rock hopped over the Ellis River. [Last time we did this, we barely crossed when we decided to turn around because our friends didn’t want to continue because of the “raging” river.] I’m not a graceful or confident rock hopper so Chris had to help me on one of the rocks. At about 0.1 miles, we hit the junction for Glen Ellis Falls and continued on the Wildcat Ridge which is also the Appalachian Trail. Soon after the junction, we hit the steep elevation gain. Holy moly. I thought the elevation gain would be gradual but Wildcat Ridge Trail just wanted to start out with a bang. It’s definitely a workout for the beginning of a hike. You’ll encounter steps, rock and wooden, and bouldering along the way.

It’s about two miles to Wildcat – D Peak. We certainly took plenty of breaks along the way as it’s a tough steep climb. There are no signs on any of the peaks so we guessed which peaks we were on as we ascended and descended. We knew we were close to D Peak when we could hear the gondola. It’s a sound you can’t miss because it has this annoying sound every time a passenger cabin offloads. The area near the gondola is open on two sides, giving a nice view of the White Mountains including Mount Washington. We stopped for lunch and people watched the gondola riders and other hikers. Where the gondola drops people off is not the summit. D Peak is actually about 200 yards further on the trail. You’ll know you’re there when you see a lookout deck. When we arrived, we met three other hikers who were interested in Milo and he certainly loved the attention. We chatted with them for a bit and headed off towards A Peak. [We would see them again as we played some leapfrog.]

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View from one of the ski slopes on Wildcat.

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Wildcat, D Peak

It’s about another 2.1 miles to get to Wildcat – A Peak. We initially thought we were going the wrong way when the trail from D Peak kept descending, but no, it was the right way. It was just a lot of up and down, mixed in with some flatness. We weren’t sure if we arrived at A Peak until a couple we met on the trail said it probably was because if you continued on the trail, it descends and the next peak’s distance didn’t make sense to still be a part of Wildcat. Someone did point out the cairn off in the middle of the trees to mark the summit just off the trail near the viewing area. Well, with our arrival at the last NH48 peak, we popped – more like twisted – the caps off our mini champagne bottles and celebrated. We stayed there for a bit, greeting hikers as they came and went.

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Wildcat, Peak A

Knowing that we had to get back to the car before dark, we begrudgingly started our journey back. We did encounter a fellow NH48-er on his way to his 47th peak and some AT thru-hikers so that made for a more interesting journey. When we took a break on D Peak, we were tempted to ride the gondola down. I even asked the attendant how much it cost for a one way ride. As soon as that question left my mouth, he said you’re cheating. And it’s not the first time someone’s ridden the gondola down either. According to him, “many” hikers have done it this summer. Fear not, we didn’t ride the gondola down. We were tempted but we wanted to finish the NH48 honestly and according to the AMC rules, so we could earn our patches and scrolls. Chris said we could take the gondola next time we hike the Wildcats.

The journey down was a long one that included butt sliding and a foot getting stuck in a crevice. I did come upon a couple enjoying the views and I thought they hiked down from the gondola because they were wearing jeans. I’m always surprised when people wear jeans for strenuous activities because they aren’t comfy or forgiving. However, that wasn’t the case. They hiked up from Glen Ellis and didn’t even know there was a gondola near the summit. I mentioned to them Wildcat is a ski mountain, hence the gondola. When they asked how far it was to the gondola, I told them at that point I stopped keeping track because of how exhausted I was getting and just wanted to get down. Leaving them behind, we kept trucking along. It helped that we remembered where all the lookout spots were as we could estimate how much distance was left to the parking lot from those spots [You can see Route 16 and the parking lot from some]. I knew we had a ½ mile left when we encountered what I called the Spider Man wall. You have to use all four to climb up or down it. Us humans took some time while Milo just went for it with no fear. By the time we crossed Ellis River and arrived at our car, a good number of cars were left – either late hikers or overnight campers. From the parking lot, we could see the viewpoints on Wildcat where we saw our car which is pretty cool. To cap off our last NH48 (aside from the earlier champagne celebration), we headed over to the Flatbread Company in North Conway for our tradition of pizza and beer.

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View of the Presidential Range from Wildcat.

Well, it’s been a long adventure in the White Mountains but we finally completed all 48 4,000-footers. We’re excited that we finished our goal. We have mixed emotions now that it’s done. We’ll certainly enjoy sleeping in on the weekends but of course, we’ll be thinking of what our next adventure is in the mountains. There’s just so many to choose from. Until then, we’ll just enjoy our accomplishment. My next post will be on highlights on our NH48 so stay tuned.

32px-Black_Paw.svgA Dog’s Walk:

The Wildcats are a moderate to difficult 8.4-mile hike consisting of steep, rocky trail conditions. It’s not recommended for all dogs as it does require some skilled agility especially on the bouldering portions of the Wildcat Ridge Trail. Milo needed help here and there but for the most part was able to mountain goat it fairly easily. Small to medium sized dogs can hike the trail but may need boosts from their human companions. There’s barely any water on the trail except for the Ellis River crossing and water stop about ½ – ¾ mile in so bring plenty of water for you and your pooch. And don’t forget to take breaks. Humans and dogs will need it as you ascend and descend five peaks for the hike.

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© Elizabeth Tran 2011-2016