Patricia Ellis Herr's Blog

December 23, 2014

Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail and Monroe Loop.  5.6 miles roundtrip with about 2872 feet of elevation gain.

Happy birthday to me!  And, happy almost-healed-foot to me!  The foot thing has been frustrating, because nothing serious was technically wrong with it.  Soft tissue damage or some such thing.  No broken bones and no ripped tendons...if my foot is going to hurt enough to keep me off the trails for over a month, then I want serious drama and nasty x-rays to make it worth my while.  Anyway, the wussy soft tissue thing seems to be 99% cleared up, so we were able to get out.

Monroe was our objective.  We arrived at the lower parking lot by the Cog around 7:00 am.  Only one vehicle was there before us -- it was owned by Rob, a fellow we'd later meet on the trail.

Walking to the trailhead from the winter parking lot .
Alex pauses to inspect her crampon.
The trail was packed solid from the weekend traffic.  My snowshoes got a free ride on my back all day long.  The girls and I made relatively short work of the relatively flat 1.3 miles to Gem Pool...though my body felt relatively heavy and relatively out of shape.

Gem Pool
On the way to Gem Pool, we passed Rob...we saw him again after we stopped to delayer and take a quick rest.  He was headed to Mt. Washington.  We set out ahead of him from Gem Pool and didn't see him the rest of the day -- it was nice to meet him and I hope he had an excellent hike.
Up, up, up....up we went.  The girls were glad they wore their Hillsound Pro crampons.  I wore microspikes...which worked well enough if I kick-stepped into the trail and angled my feet sideways.
Looking down after we've ascended a bit.
Views on the way up

Our only view of Washington all day long.  Clouds soon enveloped the mountain;
 the rest of our time on Monroe was in fog.
Time to layer up.
Sage heads into the White.
There's the hut -- no really, it's there.  See it?
Sign by the hut.  Good thing we know where we're going!
The main entrance to the Lakes of the Clouds hut, which is closed during the winter, is underneath all that snow.  The girls happily climbed to the roof and admired more view of Fog.

The way to Mt. Monroe from the hut...I am familiar with this trail, and with the mountain...otherwise, I would have been nervous.  We checked our compass frequently, just to be extra safe.

The half mile went quickly...the steep bits up the summit cone were snowy, not icy, so traction was never an issue.  We sat on the summit in the midst of Cloud.

Our Desserts on the 48 tradition continued with Mallomars on Monroe.

We didn't linger for long.  The temps weren't bad and the wind chills weren't unbearable...but all this White made me nervous, and I wouldn't feel 100% fine until we were back at the hut.

In between the real summit and the false one, I took a photo of the girls and their snow-hair.

Here's me and my own snow-hair...and snow hat...

Just before descending the summit cone, the sky cleared just a smidge and we could see the top of Jefferson in the distance.  We seemed to be right at the edge of what the folks on Mt. Washington would see as an undercast.  We were just below the top of cloud layer, so we saw mostly fog/cloud...with just a hint of view every now and then,

We stood and watched as the flank of Mt. Washington appeared..then disappeared...

The show was quickly over.  Cloud returned, so we descended.

The icy trail sign at the base of Monroe's summit cone...

Our view from the sign toward the hut.  Like I said, I was glad we knew the trail and the terrain.  We also knew which direction we should be heading...and the tracks from other hikers didn't hurt.

We met a fellow named Justin as we returned to the hut.  He was on his way toward Monroe -- he was a nice guy and it was a pleasure speaking with him.

Once at the hut, we prepared to gleefully butt-slide down much of Ammonoosuc.  We secured everything inside our packs and took a few more gulps of water.  Just before we began the descent, we met two young men with accents (German?) who were heading toward Washington.  We exchanged pleasantries, then we went on our way.

We walked down most of the above-treeline bits of Ammo...didn't want anyone to accidentally slide off into the ravine.  Just before entering the trees, we met Emerel, a fellow who posts on New England Trail Conditions.  We spoke with him for five minutes or so.  Nice fellow -- I'd love to share a hike with him sometime.  He too was headed toward Washington (and then Monroe).  We eventually parted ways -- I hope he had a fine time of it up there.

The descent below treeline was quick...we walked as much as we could and butt-slid down the extremely steep parts...which, if you've ever hiked Ammo, is most of the upper mile of the trail.  For this reason alone, I recommend all who hike Ammo bring crampons.  Lots of people butt-slide down this's part of the fun of winter be prepared and bring the serious traction for your ascent.

The girls chased each other down most of the lower mile (after Gem Pool).  They paused at the trailhead long enough for me to get this photo...

...then they chased and playfully shoved each other all the way back to the car.  I think their goal was to fall into the snow as often as possible.

We'll likely get out again between Christmas and New Year's.  Have a wonderful holiday, everyone!
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Published on December 23, 2014 21:22

December 16, 2014

Hope everyone is enjoying the winter weather!  My foot is finally feeling more or less back to normal.  We'll return to the trails next week, after Alex and Sage finish their midterm exams (we homeschool, but each girl takes accredited classes through various online and in-person institutions).  We'll probably hike twice during the Christmas holidays, then the girls will concentrate on skiing for a month or so.  In mid-February, assuming I remain uninjured, we'll get back to hiking once a week.

In the meantime, I'm almost finished documenting our John Muir Trail adventure ( click here ).

Many have asked if we're thru-hiking anything next year.  As of now, we plan to hike all the trails on our Terrifying 25 list, then head to Idaho to take on highpoint #45, Borah Peak.  We also have travel plans for the summer which are not hiking related.  We therefore probably won't be able to thru-hike a long-distance trail during 2015...there won't be enough time to fit everything in...though we will continue our fundraising-for-charities tradition using the Terrifying 25.  Stay tuned for more details.

I'll be back with a trip report next week.  Stay warm, folks!

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Published on December 16, 2014 04:27 • 8 views

November 13, 2014

First, I want to say how grateful I am to the Trailwrights 72 Summits Club for the creation of the Trailwrights list -- and for the requirement of trailwork.  This hike marked the end of Alex's quest for the 72 peaks, but she won't be an official part of Trailwrights until she completes her 72 hours of water bar clearing, stone step building, brushing, and/or other trail maintenance tasks.  Sage will join her sister for that trail work, and Sage will probably finish the Trailwrights list herself over the next few years (she accompanied me and Alex on so many of these hikes that she now has only 16 peaks to go).

We loved this list.  LOVED it.  We learned so much during our bushwhacks, and we saw so many beautiful summits and vistas during all four of New Hampshire's wild seasons.  It's been six years and five months since Alex first set foot on her first NH4K summit...Tecumseh in 2008...which, though we didn't know it at the time, also became her first Trailwrights peak.  She's now eleven, which means she's been hiking this list for over half her life.

Second, I want to thank Sage for coming with us on most of these hikes.  She and Alex have long since surpassed me in speed and strength, and there will all too soon come a day when they will hit the trails on their own, without their old, slow mom.  It hasn't been "Trish and Alex" or "Trish and Sage" for at least a year...instead, it's been "Alex and Sage...with their mom trailing behind."

Third, I want to thank Hugh for understanding that we needed to grab this peak without him.  This was the first time he did not accompany us for a list finish.  He understood we needed to get this peak when we had a good weather window, and on a day the girls didn't have any classes or extracurricular activities.  Last Tuesday was warm for this time of year, and the trails weren't yet filled with snow, and the wind speeds were manageable...and the girls didn't have set-in-stone we grabbed the opportunity.  Unfortunately, Hugh was in Las Vegas.  He will celebrate with us tomorrow night, though, with a nice dinner at one of the kids' favorite restaurants.  Hugh also trusted me enough to know that I would turn back if I didn't think my foot could handle the excursion.  As always, I am grateful for his faith in me when it comes to all things concerning the girls.

Last but not least, I'm grateful my foot was healthy enough to manage this hike.  I stepped in a leaf-covered hole coming down Sam Adams last month and have had difficulty walking on my right foot ever since.  Nothing is fractured or torn, it's all just plain sore.  For this hike, I wrapped that foot six ways to Sunday and wedged it into a Sorel.  The girls and I carried overnight gear and deliberately took a route that led us past two shelters, just in case.  I also had a way to contact Hugh, and I know some locals who would have swooped in and retrieved the girls if necessary.  However, I hiked just fine...slowly, at a pace of a mile an hour...but fine.  Now that the hike is over, I'm going to stay off my feet as much as possible until everything is 100% recovered.

Now -- on to the report --

Lowe's Path, Randolph Path, Israel Ridge Trail, Gulfside, rockwhack.
Around ten miles out-and-back with about 3800 feet of elevation gain (note, will double-check that elevation gain tomorrow, on Friday).

We arrived at Lowe's Store off Route 2 at 5:45 am.  No one was there, so I stuck a rolled-up note with parking payment inside the door.  The girls and I crossed the road and reached the trailhead at 6:00 am.

There was just enough light to render headlamps useless, so we saved our batteries and headed into the dim woods.

I was pleased to find that walking on dirt and uneven ground was easier for me than walking on flat pavement.  I had told Hugh that I'd know within the first two miles whether or not I would be able to make it to the summit and back.  The hike was going much easier than I had anticipated, though I had to move more slowly than usual.  I was also happy to see that the trail was relatively snow-free all the way to Log Cabin.

We stopped at Log Cabin so I could do an honest assessment of my foot.  It wasn't hurting, but I still took it extremely slowly and cautiously.  Up we went, turning onto Randolph Path 0.3 miles from Log Cabin.

The snow cover increased, but the depth was never more than an inch and a half or so.  The day was warm, so the snow was soft and offered grip -- we carried microspikes, but never felt the need to wear them.

By the time we neared The Perch (which you can see in an enlarged version of the photo below, center right), my foot was feeling normal and, for the first time, I felt like we were going to make the summit (the girls were mentally prepared to bail, since I had repeatedly told them I'd probably turn us around before treeline).

Up we continued, on Randolph Path, toward treeline.

Taking an eggnog break...

Up up up...

The wind was fierce, but the temperatures were warm and the girls were prepared to crawl if needed.  We layered up and made our way toward Israel Ridge Trail.  Crawling never became necessary, though we did have to lean in quite a bit and grip the sides of boulders from time to time.

Quick photo while taking shelter behind a large cairn.

After we rounded the corner and started heading up Israel Ridge Trail, the wind significantly died down.  It still made its presence known now and then, but we had no trouble walking normally or communicating with one another.

Looking toward Jefferson's Castles...

...and toward Jefferson's summit.

The girls take a break and wait for their mom....

Nearing the intersection with Gulfside, Adams in the background and the side of Sam Adams ahead and to our left.

There are a couple of bumps off Gulfside, and we're not sure which is the official summit of Adams 5 (both have cairns on the top) -- so here's Alex on the northern-most bump.

We climbed the short distance down, then walked along Gulfside to the bump nearest Edmands Col.

This bump seems higher than the other bump, and the cairn is larger, and the views are this is where we officially celebrated and ate Alex's summit cake.  I'm not sure which is the official summit though, so if you are working on Trailwrights, then you may as well climb both bumps for good measure.

Looking at Jefferson...

...and Washington...

We lounged for a while, enjoying the sun and the views, and then, at 11:45am, I insisted we descend.  I knew it would probably take me a while to get down, since I wanted to be extra-careful with my foot.  We said adios to the gorgeous peaks and headed for the trees.

The girls were so patient with me!  I went soooo slowly, taking great care.  Everything was fine and dandy until we reached Log Cabin, and then my foot began letting me know it had not appreciated our adventure.  I rested a bit at the shelter, then I picked myself up and we continued, the girls cheering me on.  We made it back to the trailhead at 3pm.

It was a wonderful finish to a wonderful list.

Mt foot, though it hurt like mad that evening, felt 98% better the next morning.  [I never would have attempted this summit had I fractured something or torn a ligament on the Sam Adams hike -- I had X-rays and MRIs last doc told me I'd just banged up the tissue a bit and that I could hike with the foot hike I did.]  Today, I'm walking without much of a limp.  Still, we'll wait another few weeks before our next hike.

Good times.  Love these mountains, love these trails, love these two girls for putting up with me.
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Published on November 13, 2014 14:52 • 4 views

October 29, 2014

...will have to wait another couple of weeks.

During the descent of our Sam Adams/Adams 5 hike, I stepped in a leaf-covered hole about a mile from the parking lot.  I kept walking before my brain registered my misstep and -- snap! -- I tore something (I think) between my toes and my metatarsals.  The injury hurt like mad at the time, but I didn't think too much of it because, as a hiker, I'm always getting bumps and bruises.  The pain was bearable as we hiked out.  In the immediate days that followed, the girls and I lived our lives as usual.  We did trail work with the Trailwrights organization, I ran the kids to and from their activities, and I acted as though the pain in my foot was a minor issue that would quickly clear up.

Unfortunately, the pain got worse.  Last week, I could barely walk at all.  X-rays show no fractures, and I'm now waiting for my MRI appointment.  The doctors predict it's simply a sprain of some kind, and that I'll be back on the trails in two or three weeks.  The issue is the joint between the 3rd phalanx and the 3rd metatarsal...the center of my foot at that specific point feels like someone's whacking it with a hammer.  The only immediate solution is to stay off it as much as possible.  Still, the doctors are optimistic I'll be fine and ready for the mountains after a few weeks of rest.

So...Alex and I have only one more Trailwrights peak to go.  It'll be either Sam Adams or Adams 5 -- since we got both of them on our last hike, we can choose which one we'd like to revisit for the final summit.  Alex prefers to reascend Adams 5, but, now that winter is soon here, weather, wind speed, and trail conditions will determine our final peak.  We're no stranger to cold weather/icy hiking, but we'll go whichever route is safest on whatever particular day we're able to next get out there.

In the meantime, I'm slowly but surely publishing entries on our JMT blog .  The girls' academic schedule is keeping us insanely busy, so the entries aren't getting posted as often as I'd like...but they are getting posted, one or two a week.

I'll post another entry on this blog once the MRI results are back and I can say, definitively, how long it will be before we can resume hiking.  Alex, of course, can finish the list anytime she wants by going with someone else.  I've told her I wouldn't mind if she wanted to go on and get it done.  She doesn't have to wait for me.  However, she and Sage insist we will do this as a team, together.  That's sweet of them and honorable of Alex...Alex is aware she'll probably be the youngest person to ever finish this list -- though that kind of thing is never the motivation for anything we do, Alex does enjoy the status when it occurs organically, as it is with this list and as it did for the winter 4Ks.  Having only one more to go makes her a bit antsy, but she insists on waiting for me.

I'll post again after I've had the MRI.
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Published on October 29, 2014 03:48 • 7 views

October 20, 2014

The girls are old enough now to do serious trail work.  They've always been old enough to help clear water bars, but I haven't signed them up for anything formal before this year because I wanted them to be old enough and strong enough to help put in rock steps, saw large trunks, etc.
Now, they're both capable of doing almost all the things adults can do when it comes to maintaining a trail.  We therefore joined Trailwrights for their annual fall clean-up day on the Bald Mountain/Artists' Bluff Loop.
We thought we were going to do some rock work, but the trail needed water bar work more than anything else.  The entire crew therefore took to clearing out leaves and creating better trenches.
It was a fun few hours.  We enjoyed talking to Hal and Peggy, the two creators of the Trailwrights 72 Club , and we loved sharing time and conversing with everyone else.  We look forward to continuing trail work with Trailwrights in the spring.  Good times.
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Published on October 20, 2014 20:17 • 5 views

October 14, 2014

The girls have been swamped with schoolwork and extracurricular activities ever since we got back from the John Muir Trail.  Today, however, we could hike!!

Alex visited both the peaks she needed to finish the Trailwrights 72 list, since the two peaks were only a few tenths of a mile apart.  Of course, she can only count one of them for today's hike, since the TW72 requires you only count one peak per hike.  She's choosing to count Samuel Adams for today.  We'll finish on Adams 5 before the end of the month (weather and schoolwork permitting!).

We went up The Link, Amphibrach, and Spur Trail, then we "rockwhacked" up to Sam Adams.  We rock-hopped from there to Gulfside Trail, then we went over and got Adams 5 (and its neighboring bump).  We descended via Israel Ridge Path, Gray Knob Path, Hincks Trail, Amphibrach, and Link.

EDIT 10/15 -- I wanted to post the trip report tonight, but I'm having trouble loading photos and I need to get to bed!  I have a million wonderful pictures and I look forward to sharing them all with you...tomorrow evening!

Here's a summit shot -- I'll write the trip report late tomorrow (Thursday!).

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Published on October 14, 2014 18:58 • 5 views
The girls have been swamped with schoolwork and extracurricular activities ever since we got back from the John Muir Trail.  Today, however, we could hike!!

Alex visited both the peaks she needed to finish the Trailwrights 72 list,since the two peaks were only a few tenths of a mile apart.  Of course, she can only count one of them for today's hike, since the TW72 requires you only count one peak per hike.  She's choosing to count Samuel Adams for today.  We'll finish on Adams 5 before the end of the month (weather and schoolwork permitting!).

Here's a summit shot -- I'll write the trip report late tomorrow evening.

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Published on October 14, 2014 18:58 • 7 views

October 3, 2014

Rattle River Trail, Kenduskeag Trail.
11 miles roundtrip with about 3200 feet of elevation gain.

Hooray!  Sage first began hiking the 52 With a View  when she was four years old.  I suggested this list to her since, at the time, her big sister was tackling the Four Thousand Footers and Sage wanted to try something of her own.  The 52WAV seemed appropriate since, though some of those hikes are as strenuous as the 4Ks, most require significantly less effort and are therefore ideal for a young/inexperienced hiker.

Here's Sage in 2009 on her first 52WAV, Mt. Willard in Crawford Notch --

June 2009 -- Sage's first 52WAV, Mt. Willard.
Alex and Hugh are in the background.A few 52WAV peaks later, Sage decided she was ready to follow in her sister's footsteps and go for the Four Thousand Footers.  We therefore temporarily abandoned the 52WAV and concentrated on the 4Ks.  Sage finished the 4Ks at the age of 6, then we got distracted by repeating 4Ks we enjoyed, and then we decided to highpoint , and then we just plain didn't want to be tied down to a list for a while (except for highpointing).  I'd make a note of it whenever we happened to hike a 52WAV, but Sage was in no hurry to finish.  Before we knew it, however, we had hiked most of the list and then, last summer, we decided to incorporate the remaining peaks into our training for the John Muir Trail (which we completed in August).  When we returned to New Hampshire a month ago, we had only two 52 WAV hikes left -- this one, and our Stairs-Resolution-Parker trek .

It's therefore been a long and involved journey between June 2009 and now.  Our time on the 52WAV list has spanned the entirety of Sage's hiking career.  I used to have to be sure I didn't hike too quickly for Sage, and I used to have to be sure she was warm enough/hydrated enough/cool enough/etc.  Now, she has to be sure she doesn't hike too quickly for me, and she's more than capable of tending to her own hydrating/delayering/etc.

This was a big day, but Sage is an introvert and she does not like to be the center of attention.  A week before the hike, I posted a "Come join us!" announcement on Facebook without Sage's permission...that was a mistake...Sage told me to delete the post, that she only wanted family on this one.  So, family it was.  Hugh, Alex, Sage, and I began hiking up Rattle River Trail at 7:15am on Saturday, September 27.

Blurry picture!  Sorry.
The first mile and a half or so is flat-ish and leads to a shelter.

After the shelter (which was occupied), the trail continues its easy grade until about two and a half miles in.  The grade then alternates between moderate and steep.  I was expecting our journey to be much more difficult than it was -- the path never really felt that steep.

Sage found this cool leaf.The trail flattens as you get close to the Kenduskeag Trail.


From here, there are minor ups and downs to the summit.  We loved this ridge walk -- so many viewpoints, so much open space!

A look back toward Moriah.

Sage "Woo-hoo!"s at reaching treeline.

Sage points to the summit of Shelburne-Moriah.

That's where we're heading.

Oops!  Stuck in the mud.

Alex documents the muddy feet.

Summit!  Congrats, Sage! Hugh takes a photo.

Happy hiker
We ate all the cake and a slew of other snacks, then we eventually headed back down.  The temperatures were warm and the day was gorgeous, so we didn't rush.

When we got close to the parking lot, Hugh and Alex went ahead so they could film Sage's final 52WAV moments.

About to officially finish.

Now it counts -- done!
Congratulations, Sage!  Nine years old and finished the 52WAV.  
The girls and I hope to hike Alex's final two Trailwrights 72 peaks within the week,  After that, we will be finished with lists for a while...except for highpointing, and except for our own Terrifying 25 list.
Thanks to the Over the Hill Hikers for putting together this list of gorgeous peaks.  Each of those mountains has its own flavor, and Sage and I enjoyed experiencing all 52 of them!

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Published on October 03, 2014 12:26 • 6 views

September 28, 2014

A huge congratulations to nine-year-old Sage, who finished hiking the 52 With a View list on Saturday, September 27, 2014.  It was a perfect day for her finish on Shelburne-Moriah -- warm temperatures, clear skies, and views galore.  I'll post a trip report in the next few days.  Good times -- I love you, kid!  It's been a joy and a pleasure, and I look forward to continuing our mountain adventures.

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Published on September 28, 2014 22:01 • 3 views

September 26, 2014

How bittersweet!  This was Sage's next-to-last hike for the 52 With a View list.

Sage began hiking this list when she was four years old, back when Alex and I were hiking our first round of the Four Thousand Footers .  I'd hike one weekend with Alex, then I'd take young Sage on one of the easier 52 With a View peaks.  Eventually, Sage decided she wanted to tackle the Four Thousand Footers, so we temporarily abandoned the 52WAV.  She did the 4Ks, and we highpointed most of the USA, and we hiked a bunch of other mountains because we felt like it...and last summer, over two hundred peaks later, we picked up where we left off with this list.  We used most of the remaining peaks to train for our recent John Muir Trail hike and now, finally, we're at the end of the 52.

Sage has grown into an incredibly strong and fast hiker.  She earned the trailname Freeway on the JMT because she zoomed past everyone, and she (and her sister) now outpace me.  When Sage and I began hiking the 52 With a View list, I had to always make sure I was hiking slowly enough for her.  I had to make sure she was warm enough, cool enough, hydrated enough, etc.  Now, at nine years old, she's hiked 44 state highpoints , literally hundreds of mountains here in New Hampshire and around the country, she's completed the 500-mile Camino de Santiago , and she's done the entire John Muir Trail.  She's faster than me, stronger than me, and, quite frankly, more observant than I am on the trail.  All this has happened between the time she hiked her first 52 With a View peak at four years old and now, when she's about to hike her last (Shelburne Moriah, within the next week).  It's been a fun ride.

On to the trip report.

Our friend John came with us on this one.  He graciously ditched work and met us at the Mt. Langdon trailhead at 7am last Tuesday.  We spotted a car and drove to the trailhead for Davis Path.

The girls and I hiked up the Davis Path last winter, when we bagged Mt. Crawford .  It was nice seeing what the bridge and the trail looked like without snow.

Sage noticed the upper portion of this tree.  Fall is here!

The Davis Path is a steady march upward, but the constant climbing is forgotten once you reach the first ledge and see this --

We continued to the intersection with the Crawford summit spur path.

We'd already been to Crawford, so we skipped the spur path and continued onward.  The path became flat-ish and soft.  I enjoyed this section -- we were up high, wandering along a ridge.  The girls and I could walk on ridges for days, with or without trees.  The feeling of being up high makes you...well...high (in the healthiest sense of the word).

We popped out onto a bald area, where I thought I saw Stair Mountain (I was wrong)...

...then we headed back into the woods.

The path leading to Stairs...

Up we go...

The high point of Stairs Mountain is the top of a cliff...there's a huge, sheer drop-off, so be careful if you bring a dog or small child up here!  It would be easy for someone to have a "negative outcome."

We sat, ate, and enjoyed the views.

John offered us some grapes that tasted out-of-this-world.  They had a sweet, melon-ish flavor to them.

After nourishing ourselves, we moved on.  We hiked back down to the intersection, then walked the mile or so to Mt. Resolution.  The trail leads you up and over a main, bare area...turning, we could see Stairs and the cliff on which we had snacked.

Views from Resolution --

Congrats on another 52WAV peak, Sage!
Almost finished!
'Twas a bit windy.
Sage...with something behind the rock...
We continued...

There's a spur path leading south of the trail on the southeastern part of Resolution.  We followed it and found this --  gorgeous!

We had one more peak to bag during today's journey -- Parker, Sage's next-to-last 52WAV mountain.  Down we went, into the woods, along another ridge, and slightly up to Mt. Parker's summit.

Parker's summit area is open, but it's not as large as Resolution's.  We huddled down as we ate our snacks; the wind had picked up and the clouds threatened rain,

Now came the most difficult part of our hike.  Two folks had recently posted online about a yellow jacket nest along the Mt. Parker Trail, close to the intersection with Mt. Langdon Trail.  To mark the danger area, they had placed fallen logs ten+ feet or so before and after the nest.  We hiked downward, keeping a look-out for the placed logs.  John was so nice -- he insisted on going first, so if we accidentally came across the nest, he'd take the hits.  He slowly walked ahead of us, checking trees and holes for nests.

There were many fallen logs on the trail, however, so the danger area wasn't obvious (coming down from Mt. Parker).  About a tenth of a mile from the intersection, we passed a hole in the ground on the right side of the trail (left if you're coming up the trail, and left in the photo below).  John had already walked by I walked by it, I saw same small, black insects swarming up out of it...uh-oh...they didn't look like yellow jackets to me, so I wasn't sure...and then I heard Max, our dog, yelp.  A second later, Sage cried out.

"Run!" I yelled, and run we did.  Sage got tangled up in Max's leash for a moment, but neither she nor Max were stung a second time during the pause in our escape.  Moving only ten feet down the trail did the trick -- the little buggers did not follow us far.

In this photo, the fallen log points almost directly at the hole in the ground
on the left side of the trail.  This is on Mt. Parker Trail, a tenth of a mile (or less)
from the intersection with Mt. Langdon Trail.
Sage takes one for the team.Alex saw the insects too, and she and I agree they looked nothing like the yellow jackets we've seen before (unfortunately, I've been chased and stung a few times within the past couple of years).  These things looked small and black as they flew.  They didn't look any different than the myriad of small, black, non-stinging insects we see all the time in the spring.  John was able to take Alex's camera, slowly sneak up to the nest, and get a photo.  If you blow up the image, you see a bunch of the buggers resting on the nest within the hole.  There are indeed yellow bits that you can see while the insects are not flying.  So perhaps they're a type of yellow jacket I'm unfamiliar with?

Ground nest with nasty stinging buggersThe trail is well marked with a warning cairn in front of a log on the way UP the trail, by the way.  However, if you're coming down, go slowly and beware of holes on the right side of the trail.  Hopefully, the critters will soon be dead anyway...colder weather is coming.

John gave Sage an after-bite/sting wipe.  Alex put it on her sister (they sure do take care of each other -- that makes me happy) as I tried to inspect Max.  Max wouldn't let me look too closely, but he walked without limping and seemed relatively uninjured.  Sage's pain faded quickly.  We eventually continued the 2.5 miles down the trail toward the car.


One more 52 With a View to go!  I had posted an announcement on Facebook marking our intended finish date, but Sage made me take it down because she doesn't want anyone there besides family (and John, if he's available).  She's an extreme introvert, so I should have known better than to post an announcement without her permission -- my bad.  Anyway, I hope to post about her final 52WAV hike within the week.

After this, and after Alex finishes the TW72 list this season, we are finished with lists!  Well, we do have the highpointing list and our own Terrifying 25 , which the girls can't wait to tackle.  We have no interest in other lists, however.  I'm redlining, but that's not really a list, it's an excuse to hike all the trails that exist in the Whites.  The girls now want freedom to re-hike trails they love, to explore whatever we feel like exploring when we get up in the morning, etc.  They're also interested in trying  a Presi Traverse and a one-day Pemi loop...though I think those adventures will have to wait until next year or the year after.

Will hopefully post again soon with our TR of Shelburne-Moriah.
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Published on September 26, 2014 07:13 • 4 views