Middle Sugarloaf – June 1st

trailhead sign
trailhead sign

The universe hasn’t liked us this week, so we knew to keep this a simple hike, in case more trouble was ahead for us. We agreed to much couldn’t go wrong if we did the Sugarloafs, which in the end turned into only one Sugarloaf.  So yeah the universe is still messing with us.

We knew we needed an early start, it is HOT here in the White Mountains this weekend, crazy hot.  Just coming off of winter and spring hiking our bodies are not accustomed to hiking in 80 degree weather.  We’ve hiked this two years ago on National Trails Day.  It is a pleasant, easy trail with splendid views.

We parked at a spot off of Zealand Road, crossed the bridge and entered the trail, following the Zealand River.

Zealand River
Zealand River

The trail meets up with the Trestle Trail (however a sign states the bridge is out) and you turn left.

Sun shining on the river
Sun shining on the river

Along  the path has the last remains of spring flowers are popping up.

Painted Trillum
Lady Slipper
Lady Slipper

Over a boggy area you have a little assistance.

Little help
Little help

After this you pass some boulders that are GIGANTIC in size.

just a little rock or two
just a little rock or two

The ascents were never strenuous or dangerous.  A man-made rock stair way always helps.


At point .9 miles  the decision to go right or left, awaits the hiker.  We decided on left first to Middle Sugarloaf.  It is a mere .4 miles to the top of the huge expanse. Once again humans have lent a helping hand and placed a ladder to assist hikers.


After this climb, you pop out to a huge open summit that has expansive views of  the Presidentals, Zealand and Ammonoosuc valleys and so many peaks I have no idea (my app, the Peakfinder was acting up – see universe at work again).

P1010891 P1010903 P1010901 P1220036 P1010895 P1010892

Because it was so warm, being overtired and way overstressed we decided Middle Sugarloaf was good enough for today.  Poor Mike was really feeling it.  We didn’t want to bring heat stroke or dehydrations issues on us, because we didn’t want to tempt the universe.



This hike did help us to de stress a bit, so thankful for that.  Maybe tomorrow will see us put more miles on our boots and deal with our lives a bit better, once we leave the mountains.

The Details:  a little under 3 miles, about two hours with an elevation gain of 1000 feet.  This is an easy climb and well worth the views.



Mud, Snow and Sun-A Perfect Day for Starr-King (April 27, 2013)

starrking 007

We narrowed down our list to three viewing spots, Imp Face, Doubleheads or Starr-King.  Well (and I mean that literally), we were in need of water for the house and Mt. Starr King was the closest viewing spot to the well in Jefferson.  So after the hike, we could easily fill up our five jugs at our favorite watering hole.  Love how our decision process works.  Off we went to grab a view on a lovely White Mountains Spring Day.

The trail head is located past a few summer “cottages” on Starr King Road.  When we arrived one car was in the lot and two other cars were directly behind us.  I knew all the major trails would see heavy foot traffic because of perfect conditions; sunny, spring like, little amount of bugs and barely a breeze stirring the branches.

starrking 004
Start of trail

We threw on our packs, that were loaded with food, extra clothes, snow shoes, and microspikes. Off we went, knowing full well that the occupants of the cars behind us would soon catch up and pass us.  I am still trying to find my mountain legs.  This is a great hike for short legs because there were NO large step ups on boulders, just a path that was easy to follow that goes steadily up, but I was still being a pokey hikergal.

beginning of the trail
beginning of the trail

Early on in the hike we passed the foundation for an old springhouse. Right after this the first duo of hikers sprinted past us.

foundation of old springhouse
foundation of old springhouse


duo quickly going past
duo quickly going past

After this the trail started to become muddy.  Sometimes you could rock hop, avoid it altogether or just give into the mud.  What do I mean give into it?  Why, sink your feet right in, feel the suction on your boot, slide and slip, pull your boot up(hoping it comes with your foot in it) and laugh out loud. Sometimes giving yourself over to the mud, is easier than trying to find ways to avoid it.

The forest changes and we discovered a small amount of monorail left. This was not traction worthy.

first section of snow
first section of snow

Then we reached 3,000 feet and the snow became a constant till the summit.  We learned last week (Mt. Crescent)   to put on traction as soon as possible. On the microspikes went and it made it so much easier, no postholing for us.  However Mr. Moose was postholing quite a bit.

Moose  print postholing
Moose print postholing
follow the yellow brick road, no I mean the monorail
follow the yellow brick road, no I mean the monorail

We passed a natural spring along the way.

To the spring
To the spring


We had a few uphill sections, but I think uphill in snow is sometimes easier than on a bare path.

trail in snow
trail in snow

We started the steady climb up to the summit.  This is where I start to get giddy on a hike, anticipation of the view that awaits us.

Getting closer
Getting closer

We are given a teaser of a view, right past this point.


The summit is quickly approaching, ok we are approaching it.

Almost to the summit
Almost to the summit

Then we turn the corner, the snow is gone on the summit.

and we turn the corner
and we turn the corner

We see the fireplace, remains from an old cabin and we know we have arrived.


Quickly we strip off the packs and microspikes, walk around, snap pictures and have lunch.

starrking 007

lunch time
lunch time

The temperature on the summit was 50 with a wind gust of 3 mph. What a great day to be out.  We opted not to continue to Mt. Waumbek to bag a 4,000.  We want to hike this beautiful trail again on a snow-free day. We hung out on the summit for about 30 minutes.  We loaded our packs on and put the microspikes back on.  I was a very happy girl.

Happy Ann
Happy Ann

As we descended, we stopped to look at the art gallery Mother Nature put together.

fungus artwork
fungus artwork

starrking 020

reminded me of something from the Muppet show
reminded me of something from the Muppet show
ice crevasse on the trail
ice crevasse on the trail

The descent went much quicker.  You could smell spring start to awaken on the lower elevations.  With a little less than a .25 miles to go, we had a chance encounter with a couple that were just out for a short jaunt to enjoy the day and check trail conditions.

Couple is ahead of us
Couple is ahead of us

The couple had to be in there in their late 70s.  They had retired to New Hampshire and we found our lives had similarities in relation to places. They asked where we were from, we replied Connecticut.  They wanted specifics and we told them.  Come to find out they knew our town, had gone to college there, as we had (though it was called Teacher’s College back then).  They grew up in CT, as I did.  We mentioned Mike was from Indiana and they said they spent 44 years in Indiana.  We chatted about the woods,  how some people fly up a mountain and never stop to notice the little things around them.  This encounter just helped to round out a great day.  We hope our hiking paths cross again.

We arrived back to the cottage and I had my after hike treat.  What a great way to end a day of hiking in mud, snow and sun.

starrking 002

The Details:  5.2 miles, total hike time was  4 hours 10 mins.,  elevation gain of 2400 feet.  An easy trail for the White Mountains to hike, even in snow.

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Mt. Potash-Complete with Moose Encounter (Aug. 18, 2012)

Views from Summit of Mt. Potash

I was lucky as a child to grow up playing in the woods.  I spent endless hours following trails, jumping brooks and exploring the forest around me.  I am happiest as an adult being in a beautiful forest, if it leads me to a grand summit, I consider that a bonus.  Today hikes to Mt. Potash brought back my inner child and it had the bonus of a stunning view at the summit.

Mt. Potash starts off at the parking area off of the Kancamagus Highway.  The trail begins at .3 miles from the parking area on Downes Brook Trail.

Trail sign

Immediately you enter a beautiful forest and as we were to discovered it had many little treasures to see along the way.

Beginning of a great forest trail

After a short walk you meet up with Downes Brook. It wasn’t flowing very strong, making it a simple crossing.  If it is flowing and dangerous to cross you can get back in your car and go about .6 miles down the road to a logging road and hike in from there.

A big stick made it a little easier for me

After the brook, we crossed a grassy logging road.  I glanced down the road and noticed something brown standing about 100 feet away.  At first I thought it must be a sign, but the longer I stared at it, I thought I saw it move.

See that little brown dot down there?

Mike advances to investigate and he whispers “moose”.  We have our first official moose sighting on a trail.  Being ever respectful of this creature and wanting to stay safe, we remained far away and zoomed in to snap photos of our first moose.

Our first moose

Then he started to advance on us, we decided to cross the old logging road and let him be.  Of course after spotting a real moose, I then had moose mirages throughout the hike.

The trail to the first ledge was full of little wonders, from stunning spider webs to an assortment of fungus. The grade was never demanding or very steep up  to the first ledge.

mushroom just hanging out
nice easy grade

We then arrived at our first ledge which offered beautiful views.

view from ledge

Leaving this ledge, the trail gets a bit steeper and you are hiking up rock slabs to the summit. I wouldn’t walk up this if it were wet. I would be content with the first views.

Up we go

The effort to get up the slabs was worth it.  The views of the Sandwich Range and the Presidentials were unbelievably  beautiful.


The required shot, attempting to get that Christmas card photo

After a snack and just soaking in the views, we headed back down the trail.  We were a little slower than book time, but that was because there was so much to discover on the forest part of the hike.  We took our time noticing the small beauties around us.

This hike brought me back to my childhood, a wonderful forest, a brook to cross, rocks to scramble up and the bonus of outstanding views.

happy me

The Details: 4.4 miles round trip, elevation gain of 1400 feet, 3.5 hours including stopping time.  For hiking in the white mountains this was a fairly easy hike.  Beautiful forest hike with limited views out, until you reach the first ledge opening and the summit with stunning views.  

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Mt. Garfield (July 19, 2012)

And we are off

I’m not an official peakbagger, rather a seeker of views.  It can be a full 360 views, a glimpse of vistas, windows of trees that frame a view or a straight on one way view at the end of the trail, it doesn’t matter, just give me a view.  Mt. Garfield provided all of that, but really wowed with a full 360 view at the summit.

We started around 7:45 a.m. on the Garfield Trail.

start of trail

It was a woodsy walk with three stream crossings. The crossings were low running and very easily rock hoppable.

Low water = easy crossing

The trail grade was moderate all the way on the Garfield Trail.  At times on the ascent it was rocky, but for my short legs it was not strenuous.

an easy rock trail

We received our first tree window to a view a little ways before we joined The Garfield Ridge Trail.

First glimpse out

Even though the grade was fairly easy, in terms of White Mountains hiking, I was a sweaty mess and was ready to see the trail junction sign.

Well that was until my husband reminded me the last .2 miles would be steep and good ole fashioned White Mountain hiking. After a quick break, we started up the last .2 miles.  This was a fun little scramble up to the summit, which took us about 20 minutes.

some of the .2 miles up

When we reached the open summit, we saw our final destination, the summit of the rock that held the remains of the fire tower.

base of former fire tower

Once up there our views were stunning, we could see for miles in all directions.

After oohing and aahhing, it was time for a snack break and well, ok, a little nap.

nap with a view

After the rest, it was time to head down.  This is one trail where the down wasn’t brutal on the knees.

down with a view

On the way down, the refrain of “are we there yet?” kept replaying in my head.  Along the way we found some interesting nature items to make the time go quickly.

Parasitic Wasp
beautiful yellow fungus

It was a beautiful day to be out on the trail.  I kept thinking if I were peakbagging or doing the 48 list, Garfield might just be my end hike, so I could reflect on the mountains I conquered.

checking out the views

The Details:  10 miles, 6 hours total time, 30 minutes of stop time, elevation gain of 3000 feet. Overall in terms of hiking the White Mountains this was an easy trail, the difficulty comes in the length and the last.2 miles to the summit.

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What’s Worse Than Black Flies On the Trail?

A beautiful June morning of sunshine and warmth would be ideal for a hike in the White Mountains. We decided on Pierce. We knew that the weather would call forth many on the trail, we just never expected the onslaught of people who would be out there.  These hikers ranged in age from 4 to 90, some dressed for serious backpacking and others dressed for a Sunday outing, including one in white pants, and the manners of hikers ran the gamut from quiet, respect of nature and others to I can be as loud and disrespectful of your peace as I want.  So what is worse than black flies on the trail? Rude people, especially  loud inconsiderate hiking groups.

We arrived at the Mt. Clinton Parking lot at 8:30 and the lot was already full, we found a little space to squeeze into, off of the parking area.  We crossed over Mt. Clinton Rd to the Crawford Connector. We gradually climbed for .4 miles in a beautiful setting. At the beginning the forest floor was dotted with budding pines that lined the wide trail.

At.4 miles we reached the bridge that crossed over Gibbs Brook.  This is where we had our first encounter with people.  A group of three that we would jockey for lead position throughout the ascent, were enjoying some time at the bridge.  If these were the type of respectful, fun and considerate hikers we would come across all day, it would be great being with like-minded people.

At this point we all turned on the Crawford Pass, following Gibbs Brook to our left. The trail was a gradually ascent up with few level areas to hike.  When we came a level area, it was time for the body to rejoice.  The ascents were not technical, nor did they requiring scrambling but they were unrelentingly continuous.

A few people passed us I am a rather pokey hiker.  These early morning hikers were enjoying the quiet and the beauty of the woods.  If you needed to pass them, they moved out-of-the-way or if they were resting they were not sitting in the trail.

Around 3 miles we hit the official alpine zone sign.

You could start to glimpse views of Washington and other mountains, the flowers were bursting with alpine pride and voices started to fill the mountain air as we neared the summit.

We continued up the trail to find the official geographical marker that denotes the high spot, all of a sudden people arrived from every trail direction possible.

Mike snapped a photo of a lovely couple, who in turn snapped our photo. The summit was full of people, so attempting a shot with only the mountains in the background was an unrealistic expectation.  At this point people were quiet, allowing people to find their nature zone.

It was a clear day with amazing views.  We hunkered down on a piece of rock to snack and absorb the views.  We were in close proximity to a woman, who was backpacking and she looked like an interesting person to chat with.  Mike and I started to unpack our food, when all of a sudden a hiking group arrived and all peace and respect of personal space dissolved away.

Two men stood right over us and started discussing hedge funds and other worldly nonsense, which we both strive to flee from on a hike.  This beautiful backpacking woman was taken aback also, by the loudness of the group and their lack of respect for others. Even my extremely aromatic garlic bread, didn’t chase them away.

Mike and I grabbed our stuff and looked for another spot to go to.  There wasn’t much rock to claim as the group spilled over everywhere.  We ate quickly, picked our stuff up and headed down to the sign, where there were not any people, just quiet and space.  Here we could enjoy some time with our thoughts and just absorb the stunning views without clusters of people.

Then it ended, another loud group descended upon us.  So we decided to flee down the mountain.  As we made our escape going down,  we were assaulted by groups of people going up.  Many, many people were kind, respectful and there to take in the gifts of the nature, but some were out for a big loud social time.

We encountered a long line of boys going up with .2 miles left to go for them.  They were friendly, polite and tired.  It was a group of 29 fifteen year old boys with ten adults.  The adults in this group had taught the boys excellent trail manners and I hope when they are adults they will instill in others those same lessons.

So what is worse than black flies on the trail? People with no manners or sense of respecting other’s needs to be in the woods.  My simple recommendations, especially for large groups…have a sense of personal space, don’t crowd other hikers, keep your voice down, if you are standing next to the person you are talking with use a soft tone, don’t sit down in the middle of the trail if you need to rest and most of all pick up after yourself.

Until the next hike….

The details:   This was an out and back, using the Crawford Path to reach the summit of Pierce.  5.75 miles, 5 hours.  Elevation gain 2595 feet.  Summit of Pierce  4,310 feet.  Temperature at summit 71 degrees.  Gradually uphill, great cardio workout .

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Game Playing Saves Lives

This weekend we were determined to be foot hiking in New Hampshire, after we spent last weekend car hiking. Our goal was Falling Waters Trail to Little Haystack Mountain to Franconia Ridge Trail to the summit of Mt Lafayette to Greenleaf Trail/Hut and then Old Bridle Path trail back to the car for roughly 8.8 miles, 8 hours.  Well it didn’t exactly go as planned.

We started our hike in great moods, with a fabulous kiosk depicting what to expect in an alpine zone.  We were excited and determined to reach a peak over 5,000 feet. So with a swing to our hiking poles, we cheerfully entered the trail.

The first section to the bridge gave us a false sense of courage.  I know our hiking books warned us that this was a strenuous hike, but we have completed hikes in Connecticut that the AMC has listed as strenuous and they weren’t hard, we could do this.

Our first water crossing was easy and fun.

At this point we had another couple pass us by, as I am a rather pokey hiker. No problem I thought, so I’m slow…but I try to be deliberate and thoughtful of my foot placement, so that slows me down.

The sound of rushing water was encouraging us on. The first of many plunging waterfalls was stunning on the way up.

But the ups weren’t on a simple easy path at the water’s edge; there were huge rocks, boulders that we had to go over, through and around.

This quickly slowed us down to a crawl. We became wet with sweat, we switched our layer of clothes to dry ones.

We then started to ask ourselves if we should continue on.  Next thing we see is the couple who passed us early on the hike, they were coming down.  They couldn’t make it up, didn’t feel it today they said. That along with us going so slow started to concern us.

At this point, I started playing the “scenario game” or the “what if game” in my head.  I have a friend I teach with, Mr. S who is my “ hiker hero.” He has completed the Appalachian Trail, other renowned trails and is an expert on surviving in the wilderness.  At school he likes to play this scenario game with me.  He will give me a scene about hiking and ask me how I would handle the situation, what would I do.  Some scenarios we’ve covered are  if Mike or I get hurt, what would our plan be to get help?  If we are caught in a storm what do we do? Mr. S quizzes me with many scenes and what ifs, then we discuss my decisions, my actions and the possible consequences of them.

I love this game, but really thought it was a game, not something I would ever use.  That day on the trail, I played the game, what would happen if Mike and I got stuck on the trail at night? Did we have our headlamp? No we forget it?  Did we have enough dry clothes to survive the night? No, they were sweat wet and the weather wasn’t such we could dry them. We had no one nearby who knew where we were, so no one would be notified quickly when we didn’t return.  Lastly my body, from all the intense rock scrambling, was hurting, what would happen if I physically couldn’t do this? The answer to that really shook me to my core.

It was time to make a crucial decision to either turn around or continue on. We stopped, consulted the GPS…we had gone almost 2.3 miles in 3 hours with still 5.5 miles to go and the most intense steep trail coming up.  It was now after noon.  If we completed this trail at this rate it would be dark.  Play the scenario game yourself, what answer did you come up with?

We knew our limits and after playing the game, the only safe and responsible decision for us to make was turn around and go back down the way we came.  The entire way down I was thanking Mr. S for being in my life.  If he hadn’t started playing that game, I would have been too proud to turn around and therefore might not be writing this blog.

A little game playing never hurt anyone and in this case a weekly dose of the “Scenario Game” may have saved us.  So a huge thank you to my hiking mentor, Mr. S!!

The Details: 5.6 miles for 5 hours.  Just did the 2.1 miles of the Falling Water Trkail out and bac.  It was .2 until you reaching Falling Water Trail.  Be of strong body when doing this, well rested. Some sites recommend doing just the Falling Water Trail by the waterfalls, I would recommend that.

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