The constituency has been clamoring for another blog post, so here goes.
No, not in the sense that time flies when you're having fun, but in that my hiking partner for a three day backcountry trip bagged out two days before departure. Not unexpected, but the turn of events left me adrift for a way to dispense with a free weekend. What transpired was a Woods Hippie wandering of the finest sort - an adventure of motorcycles, tempests, summits and spirit that was rampant in spontaneity yet rooted in familiar terrain.
|Rowell's Bridge spans the Contoocook River in Hopkinton, New Hampshire.|
Brooding. Where should I go? Irritable. How about here (points a finger to a random place on the map)? Frustrated. No, I don't really want to go there. Resigned. But why not? In the end, I settled on riding north into New Hampshire to camp at a Forest Service campground in Waterville Valley where I would stage hike of the Tripyramids. Okay, fine, fair enough, it was enough to motivate me to put up the kickstand and hit the starter switch. Friday morning arrived and I bid the family adieu, two- and four-legged alike. The ride, all 260 miles of it, passed pleasantly if not unremarkably, highlighted by the waning colors of summer's passing days. The spring and summer flowers have long wilted, leaving behind weedy hedgerows of goldenrod and aster to hue the fields, and the maples and beeches have taken on a tired grey-green tone to their foliage - perhaps the earliest signaling of the resplendent carnival of color to come.
As the bike carried me to the southern gateway of the White Mountains, mere minutes from my intended bivouac, more changes. I was a mere 45 minutes from my family's mountain retreat, complete with a hot tub, soft bed, and a bottle of cheap whiskey. That, and twenty miles of the sweetest sweepers and twisties in New England. (Not familiar with sweepers and twisties? Buy a motorcycle, immediately!) The aches in my shoulders and posterior that had been building all day suddenly diminished and I nudged the black Suzuki on a northwesterly tack alongside the Wild Ammonoosuc River, an unrecognized foreshadowing of the following morn when I would hike to her headwaters high on a mountainside.
Settled with drink in hand and music pulsing form the stereo, I opened the hiker's guidebook to peruse some trail options and unleashed rolling, unstoppable changes to the plan, this time not at the hand of indecision but rather as necessary reactions to impending weather - a powerful cold front that was forecast to be the turbulent arrival of fall in the White Mountains. All at once the wide open day was framed by very real considerations - squalls in the high mountains are significant threats and riding motorcycles in the rain is just plain misery.
The plan...those rolling changes...which mountain to climb? The necessities - a short ride from camp, quick hike to a tall summit, off the mountain before the storm hits, majestic scenery, and superlative physical challenge.
|Anyone want to donate to the Buy the Woods Hippie a Better Camera Fund?|
|The view from the summit meadow. I wouldn't have it any other way!|
|Lest you think I take this too seriously, let me say this. Despite all the bullshit prose I drop on this blog from time to time, I'm really just a goofball kid that likes to hike in the mountains. The rest is just gravy.|
|Isn't it amazing what nature provides? Steps in the rock!|
Morning again - this time with sunshine sparkling and winds absent. The night prior I had hatched a plan to tackle Kings Ravine on Mt. Adams in the Presidential Range, but I slept in and then realized the folly of trying (or wanting) to rush a hike that should be savored. I mean, this ravine has hidden ice year-round and a crazy jumble of boulders among thousands of feet of vertical gain that beg for a day-long exploration. Not suitable fodder for the day when I have to ride home. So, I picked another local favorite, Black Mountain via the Chippewa Trail. A short little mountain with a two mile ascent that packs a mighty punch. Steep! This mountain has one serious Napoleon complex.
The steepness of portions of the trail drew comparisons to the prior day's hike up Moosilauke. My legs certainly took a while to warm up to the experience. The fledgling autumn weather was a stark contrast to the meteorological witchcraft summoned on the Beaver Brook Trail. The interesting thing was that these two hikes were unique in their details but I ultimately perceived them both as a continuum of thought and experience over the two days.
The coolest part of the hike was the lime kilns.
|The figurative and literal foundations of our modern society.|
|I don't want to know a world where these wonders are paved over...|
So, just as quickly as the little black motorcycle whisked me away to the northlands, it brought me back home. Ostensibly, a bit disappointing, until I got to experience the little guy enjoying a ripe tomato from the garden...
...which put the whole thing into perspective.