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.

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