Friday, July 30, 2010

Hiking and a trip to Nantucket

We've been back from our trip about 50 days now, and it seems with each day our trip seems further and further distant. We haven't quite developed a routine in our life back in the states just yet, but sometimes I reflect on our trip and am amazed that it's been almost two months since we were moving from place to place around the world.

We spent the last week on Nantucket, an island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Jaimee's dad and step-mom rent a house there for a week every July and we joined them this year. Well, I came over a few days late, as I went on a three day backpacking trip in New Hampshire before taking the ferry out to meet them. I did about a 35 mile loop in the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Even though I ostensibly did the hike "by myself", there were many other hikers on the trails, and one night I spent it in at Guyot Shelter and met many other very friendly hikers. I climbed six of New Hampshire's 4,000 foot peaks during the trip, and am now up to 11 of New Hampshire's 48 4,000 foot peaks. I had decent weather for most of my trip, but as is typical of the mountains in New Hampshire I had some windy weather as well as a little rain. Here I am on top of Mt. Bond in somewhat of a gale. It was mild by New Hampshire standards, but still quite rough.
From July 2010
We had a wonderful, relaxing week on Nantucket. On the way out on the ferry, I was treated to a wonderful sunset which set the stage for a beautiful week weather wise.
From July 2010
We had three gorgeous beach days and one partly cloudly, semi-rainy day where we lounged around the house playing games. Overall, Nantucket was a perfect way to spend a week. For now, we're back in Shrewsbury staying with Jaimee's dad and step-mom, but we'll be bopping around New England visiting various people. I still plan on doing my Long Trail hike I talked about in the last post, but I may delay the start a bit as I'm following up on some job leads and it would be most inconvenient to try and conduct a job interview from the trail (although I'd certainly love it if that were possible).

Monday, July 19, 2010

More hiking adventures, and a wedding

As I mentioned in the previous post about hiking in New Hampshire, we've been very impressed by the quality of the trails in the White Mountains. This past week we went up there again for some more hiking and were not disappointed. This time, we camped at a campground so as to get in two good days of hiking. We hiked with our friend Michael the first day and climbed Mt. Lafayette and Mt. Lincoln, both over 5,000 feet. It was a great hike which went by one of the many Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) huts that are all through the mountains. We stopped in and refilled our water bottles at the beautiful Greenleaf Hut.
From July 2010
We lost the trail on the way down, but were able to follow a brook down through the woods and eventually meet back up with the trail. It was a dramatic finish to a strenuous hike. After camping for the night, Jaimee and I hiked up Cannon Mountain the next day, passing by another hut at Lonesome Lake. Cannon was a good hike, but since there's a tramway that takes people to the top, we were the only two people who'd hiked up there. It's always a little disappointing to sweat and struggle up a mountain to then be surrounded by people in flip-flops staring at you wondering why you're so sweaty. This time on the way down we made sure that we didn't lose the trail.
From July 2010
After our NH hiking we went back to Shrewsbury for the wedding of Jaimee's cousin Frank. It was a traditional Catholic ceremony followed by a wonderful reception. Here we are all dressed up for the wedding (click through for some pictures of the reception too):
From July 2010
Now we're back in Boston, but only for the week, as Friday we're heading to Nantucket for the week. I might try and squeeze in another hike in NH, especially since my plan is to hike the entire Long Trail in August. Don't mean to hide this announcement in the bottom of a blog post, but yes, I'm planning on walking the length of Vermont from Massachusetts to Canada. It's 275 miles and I plan to complete it in about three weeks. This has been a dream of mine for a long time, so given that I'm unemployed, we'll be moving out of our sublet apartment in August anyway, now seems like the time. I'll do a separate post about my plans, but for now you can look at my spreadsheet of stops and read about the trail on the above link. Currently the plan is to hit the trail at the Massachusetts border on August 4th and finish up around August 25.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Let the hiking begin

Moving away from Seattle, one of the things I knew I'd miss was the incredible hiking available in Washington. Hiking Mt. Si or Tiger Mountain, for example, were yearly rituals for us, to say nothing about the amazing hiking and backpacking opportunities available a little further away. Some of my fondest memories of my years in Seattle are out on the trail, whether it was day-hikes in the Cascades or around Mt. Rainier, or multi-day adventures through the woods.

Of course, having grown up in Vermont, I knew there was plenty of hiking in New England, but I think my years of West Coast outings (including forays to all the beautiful National Parks in the West) biased me into thinking that New England hiking was inferior in some way. So it was to my surprise that Jaimee and I went on two hikes this past week and had an absolute blast. The hiking was certainly different than out West, but I wouldn't say that it was inferior.

First, last Thursday we took a ride out to Walden Pond and went for a walk around it. It was less than three miles, so maybe it doesn't qualify as a hike, but it was really fun to read about Thoreau, see the replica of his little cabin and go for a swim in the pond. Apparently there are about 17 miles of trails in the little park just 30 minutes from Boston. Certainly not an epic adventure, but a nice respite from the urban heat.
From July 2010
Then yesterday, we did a more intense hike up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It was actually quite an impressive hike. We hiked with this guy Michael that we sat next to on our flight from Iceland to Boston. He's super into hiking, attempting to climb all 4,000 ft (or higher) peaks in New Hampshire. I was vaguely familiar with the attempt that some people make to climb all 48 peaks (or all 67 peaks over 4,000 ft that are in New England), but until chatting with him I didn't really how serious some people are.

Well, we went out with him for the day yesterday and bagged our first two 4,000 footers! We hiked part of the Crawford Path, the oldest continuously used mountain trail in America. We climbed up to Mt Pierce and then continued along the Crawford Path (also the Appalachian Trail at this point) to Mt Eisenhower. All in all it was about 9 miles round-trip with about 3,000 feet of elevation gain. We had beautiful weather and the views were outstanding. By any standards, West Coast or East Coast this was a fine day hike. Here's a great view of the Mountain Washington Hotel, a huge castle-like hotel right in the mountains.
From July 2010
And of course, we took summit pictures:
From July 2010
From July 2010
Our hiking partner Michael wants to climb them all in three years. He's also attempting to climb them all in the winter, which according to the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) goes from winter solstice to spring equinox. The AMC web page goes into great detail on what this means. It seems a bit obsessive, but also somewhat intriguing. I think it would be awesome to hike them all, and I've even started my own list of them (click the NH 4000 tab on the spreadsheet). I won't set a deadline for completion, but if anyone is visiting New England and wants to do some hiking, let me know. We'll be out there as much as possible.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Multiple Fourth of July Celebrations

One of the advantages of being in New England for the 4th of July is the number of different celebrations. Each town it seems has its own party, often on different dates in order to not collide with each other. We already mentioned last week's 4th of July parade in Guilford, but this past weekend we followed that up with celebrations in Somerville, Massachusetts and Catskill, New York.

Somerville, the town right next to Boston where we're staying for the month of July had their Annual 4th of July Fireworks on July 1st. There was music by several bands, including a performance by the US Navy Band. The fireworks were quite impressive, lasting for over 30 minutes and we were very close so we could see them launch from the ground before exploding up in the air. Our apartment is really close to Jaimee's sister Janelle's apartment so we just walked over to her place and watched the fireworks together.
From July 2010
From July 2010
From Boston we drove over to Catskill, New York to visit my Aunt and Uncle Lisa and Dick. They were hosting their own celebration, the 7th annual summer party to benefit the Thomas Cole Historic Site. This was held at my Aunt's house right on the Hudson River. The party was amazing. There were 350 guests, two huge tents, a live band and an amazing fireworks display, launched from the edge of my Aunt's property by the river. We felt honored to help my Aunt and Uncle put on this fundraiser and had a blast (no pun intended) mingling with art lovers and others from the Catskill (and New York City) community. We also were blessed with incredible weather (hot, but since the party was in the evening, the weather was cool enough that the temperature was just perfect). Here's a picture of the festive tent, set up for the 350 guests:
From July 2010
Then we topped off our 4th of July celebrations last night by having a wonderful dinner with Jaimee's dad and step-mom in Shrewsbury. We love being close to them and being able to just drop by for dinner and a visit. I even picked up golf clubs for the first time in several years and went to the driving range with Jaimee's dad. (I hit a few good balls, although I definitely need more practice before I'm anywhere close to his level of play).

All in all, we're certainly getting right into the swing of things (again, no pun intended) living in New England, albeit we're still in travel mode as we're in a new location almost every night and aren't working (although I do have a few job leads). It's funny how easily we've adapted to not being on our trip any more. I think moving to a "new" city has helped our transition. I've been reading with interest the blog posts of our friends Gillian and Jason who we met in Thailand (and then met up with later in Laos) who recently returned home from their trip around the world, as it shows the many different emotions that surround the completion of a big trip. (Their friends, also returning from an around-the-world trip a few months ago wrote a very touching blog post illustrating the emotional roller coaster that is returning from a big trip). Everyone reacts differently and I think us not returning to the same city and the same jobs has helped us acclimate to living in the USA again. I don't mean to over-dramatize coming home, but for us, being with family and friends has really helped us not miss the road too much (although I think I could very easily just jump back on a bus or train and go visit new places tomorrow).
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