it has been a fair amount of time since I have reached out to everyone. I trust you had a great Fourth of July. Today's chapter takes Darren through the Northeast portion of our country, more specifically New Hampshire.
Let me place the fork and knife down in front of you (set the table) so you can properly devour this voyage. My father has had this dream of climbing Mt Washington for the 5th time. Don't ask me why 4 was not good enough, but when my father tells you to jump you just respond, "How high sir!" If you don't you are liable to get a lashing, or a long lecture on fathers and sons....I can't remember which at this moment.
My father and I set out from Michigan through Canada to meet up with my brother (leaving from Philly) in East New Hampshire. I am sure to get a talking to by my father for any comments that would not pass through the "editor" (if you will recall my crack about the dwarf hiking stick - see Pictured Rock entry), but as they say, "That is a risk I was willing to take."
For the 3 weeks leading up to the trip, my father inundated us with information on mountain elevation, possible trails, edible berries, local restaurants, dispositions of motel owners, scat identification powerpoints, etc. I read a few, but figured, it is a mountain, you look for the point and you move towards it.
We passed through Canada, got lost in the town of Hamilton, both my father and I blaming each other, but we soon got over it and were able to get lost again once we got back to the US. I was all for pushing through all the way to the mountain, but the old man had other plans. We stopped at a picturesque little motel in Vermont. I was cool with it by morning cause I scored a few nice shots, the one with the fake duck below is a personal favorite.
We rolled into North Conway about 2pm, called my brother down from the mountain (he was less than thrilled) and checked into the White Trellis:
I was fine with the place. A little bit of a dive, but coming from a guy who sleeps on the floor, it was luxury. The best part was that across the street sat an ideal microbrewery with top notch cuisine:
That first day we all piled into the car and drove over to the Flume:
It was cool place, but the crowds were intense and more than once I wanted to toss a cameraman into the gorge who was blocking the path. Then as his family looked on shocked, still in their picture pose, I would apologize and fish out what loose change I had in my pocket (between you and me I don't carry loose change, so they really would have been pissed).
After the Flume we stopped by the back of mt Washington to check out the train that takes weaker mortals to the top and back.
My brother and I closed down the brewery that night. The perfect medicine for an early morning hike up a mountain. The next day we made it over to Pinckham's Notch, the trail head, just in time for breakfast. I ate the equivalent of 3 breakfasts as I did not want to carry food. Below is the map of our trip. I use red lines to dictate our trail away from base camp and blue for the return, can anyone guess that I am doctor (you would be wrong). Basically we took Boot Spur up to Davis, over to the top and then down Lion's Head merging with Tuckerman's ending back at base.
At this point I would like to introduce you to your guides for the trip: First up is the outdoorsman himself: Rusty Parmesan. He likes letting phones ring, talking as little as possible, making fun of everything that he sets eyes on and talking about himself in the third person.
Next is: Charlie "lady killer" Bojangles. He enjoys wearing oversized watches (what he calls "bling"), pretending to be interested in whatever Rusty is, and prides himself on being the only mountain man who can't do with out his bluetooth headset.
Finally, let's meet Jack "of-all-trades" Montgomery. He likes planning everything out to the finest detail until it is as spontaneous as a trip to the Dentist. He enjoys raquetball and Geocaching without actually finding anything. His claim to fame is the ability to invent the Part-time-pole. Jack uses his pole occasionally to hike with, but spends most of the time throwing it up the hill and retrieving it along the way. We were gonna bring our dog, but then figured Jack would get pissed as I think he would not have a chance to get one of the pole tosses.
Here is your crew as they start out. Yes, they look like an experienced bunch. Discovery channel is in the works of creating a new show around them called, "The Deadliest Guides" It has been said that they lose 2- 4 clients per trip, thereby eclipsing Alaskan fishermen as the second toughest job.
A couple of early shots in the trip before we reached the treeline. The trail was rough, but that made for us being the only ones on the trail except a man with his 3 year old daughter....who carried her own pack. As A side note, I came to this mountain when I was 5, and after crying about it being to steep, my mother took me to Story Land, where I tore it up:
We finally broke the tree line about 3 hours in. It was pretty tough going. Nowhere on this mountain is a flat surface. Every inch is covered by jagged 10 lb. rocks. Below are some shots of stage 2
Above were pictures of both the tail end of Boot Spur and Davis Trail. Now we come to the final installment. We were at the 6 hour mark of our trip and were looking up a sheer face (45 degrees). Charlie scampered ahead, leaving me with old Jack. We were just in time for rush hour on the trail and I was not sure how he was going to do. I vowed to stay with him all the way, or until it became really annoying, at which point I would run ahead and mutter something about seeing him in hell, or on the way back down...I can't remember where my mind was at that point.
Below is a shot of Lake of the Clouds. If anyone has the chance I would suggest booking a bed here (must reserve 6 months in advance). They cook great meals and makes for a good break on a 2 day hike.
Well we made it. All kidding aside, which pretty much means disregarding everything I say, Jack did great, I honestly had serious doubts on whether he was going to make it. A little know fact that Mt Washington actually has the worst weather recorded in the world...you can look it up.
We took some group shots and convinced Jack to take the train down while Charlie and I attempted to blaze new trails to take a direct route thereby setting a descent record.
I took the lead and went down the side of the mountain. I liken it to a quote from my ATV days in Mexico, "I was out of control 60% of the time." I would jump from rock to rock, but not really decide how I was going to land until the lead foot was in midair constantly uttering things like, "need to pick a spot....oh, that is not gonna turn out well..."
But when you are trying to set a record, safety takes a backseat. We made it down in 2.5 hours and both felt that we should have twisted an ankle or hyperextended a knee three or four times. This first shot, Charlie forced me to take. He claimed it was the same shot he took when he was 8 years old. If my parents learn how to scan pictures I will post the original, but personally i think he looks like a jackass in some pose for the cover of Adventure magazine.
When we got back to the bottom, I went into the information center and saw this model of the mountain. It is not actual size, but I tried to climb it to show you the route I took. Apparently they frown on that behavior, so you will have to figure it out for yourself.
We all left the next day, and I think it was actually the first trip the three of us did not get into a fight (oral or physical). So I would consider it a success.
Until Next time,