Mount Carr

Ice skims the surface of trailside puddles after a cold March night.
Ice skims the surface of trailside puddles after a cold March night.

A lovely day for a hike up Mount Carr, an unassuming 3,400′ bump to the southeast of Mount Moosilauke. I had never visited this peak, so when a friend suggested we try it out I was ready to hit the trail.  The lower slopes were bare of snow but it is, after all, still “winter” so none of the trees or undergrowth have started to leaf out.  The overnight cold formed a skim of ice across all the puddles and many of the smaller streams, their fascinating patterns glinting in today’s bright sunshine. (See photos!) The upper slopes held a crusty but shallow snowpack, and rippled ice floes.

The Presidentials, with a fresh coat of white snow, dominate the view from Mount Carr.
The Presidentials, with a fresh coat of white snow, dominate the view from Mount Carr.

At the rocky summit we could climb on the footings of the long-since-removed fire tower and see the white-capped Mount Moosilauke, Franconia Range, and Presidential Range.  I hope to return to the neighborhood and explore the other peaks in the Wentworth-Rumney area!

Mount Mansfield

Jen, Lelia, and Lars at a Lunch stop at Taft Lodge on Mount Mansfield.
Jen, Lelia, and Lars at a Lunch stop at Taft Lodge on Mount Mansfield.

Over the past week I was beginning to think that winter was a bust – with just a handful of great winter outings to show for it.  Today proved me wrong.  With Mount Mansfield as our goal, Lelia and I set out for Stowe, Vermont and soon met up with Jen and Lars. The parking lot was nearly full of hikers, backcountry skiers, ice climbers, and others eyeing the pure-blue sky and crisp views of the snowy peaks.  Heading south on the Long Trail, we climbed steeply up a well-packed treadway smoothed by several groups of skiers skinning their way up ahead of us, and criss-crossed by the carved turns of skiers and snowboarders who left the groomed trails of Stowe for the hardwood glades of the Long Trail. The snow was fairly fresh, with perhaps six inches of powder on top of a firm but not  icy base.  We reached Taft Lodge for lunch, basking in the startlingly warm March sunshine with a group of three younger skiers, another group of four older Quebecois, all sharing the happiness that comes from bright sunshine, blue skies, soft powder, and fresh air.  More below the break.

Continue reading “Mount Mansfield”

Ascutney and Gerry Falls

This winter has, so far, been pretty much a bust.  Virtually no snowfall, with plenty of warm weather and rain to ensure that the little snow doesn’t stick around. I decided to head for one our closest big-mountain neighbors, Mount Ascutney, an hour down the Connecticut River, because the trail passes some nice waterfalls.  If there’s no snow, at least there will be ice.  I spent about an hour at the falls, enjoying the indirect lighting as the rising sun illuminated the open woods to one side of the stream. One nice feature of an icy stream, I discovered, is that you can stand on the ice in mid-stream and explore many angles you might find to be too wet in summer. Got some nice photos!  More to say below.

Gerry Falls, along the Windsor trail up Mount Ascutney.
Gerry Falls, along the Windsor trail up Mount Ascutney.

Continue reading “Ascutney and Gerry Falls”

Sandstone Peak

I was in LA for business all week, in a high-rise office with a great view of the distant mountains.  I stayed an extra day and headed out through the Simi Valley to the Santa Monica mountains to hike Sandstone Peak.  A thoroughly enjoyable 6.5-mile loop, open to views most of the way!  The views to the south passed over the foothills and into the Pacific Ocean, so I drove the winding road down from the trailhead, came around a bend, and ended right at the beachfront!  Drove back along the coast through Malibu. A great day for a hike and drive through pretty countryside!  Check out the photos.

Sandstone Peak in sight - the high point of the hike ahead - with a group of hikers on the bump in middle ground.
Sandstone Peak in sight – the high point of the hike ahead – with a group of hikers on the bump in middle ground.

Camel’s Hump

I was itching to get above treeline this weekend, to enjoy the fresh snow the hills received this week and, hopefully, some long-range views.  I recruited an old friend and we headed for Camel’s Hump in Vermont.  David spent two summers working there as a ranger, and yet had not been back to this impressive peak and its myriad trails in over 20 years.

The summit is in sight!
The summit is in sight!

Back to Moosilauke

Despite summiting this mountain a dozen times last year, I just can’t stay away.  This weekend I headed up the mountain early on a sunny Sunday morning with two good friends – my ’86 classmate Jen and her husband Lars.  After dropping overnight gear at MRL we strolled up the Gorge Brook trail with 3-4″ of fresh powder to decorate the trees and soften the earlier hard-packed base.  The blue skies did not last, but the grey overcast stayed high and we were treated to spectacular views of the Whites from the newly re-opened overlooks.  The summit was freshly coated in delicate rime-ice feathers, but the wind was calm and the temp reasonable so we were able to sit and enjoy the view with about a dozen other hikers who reached the summit at noon. Check out the photos!

Jen, Lars and David enjoy calm weather on the summit of Mount Moosilauke. Photo by Jen Botzojorns.
Jen, Lars and David enjoy calm weather on the summit of Mount Moosilauke. Photo by Jen Botzojorns.

After a quick descent we retired to John Rand cabin for a delicious dinner (thanks Jen!), joined by another classmate Lelia and the Hooke family.  The Hookes and I stayed overnight, as a light snow began to fall.  With 3″ by breakfast and 6″ by our noon departure, with heavy snow continuing, it’s beginning to look like Winter has finally come to Moosilauke.

Skiing out from Moosilauke during a snowstorm.
Skiing out from Moosilauke during a snowstorm.

Happy new year!

The past year included many exciting travels and outings; check out my photographic tour of 2015.

Highlights include

I’m excited to see what 2016 brings!

Safari group photo: Peggy, Amy, Erin, Doe, Pam, Mara, Isabel, Andy, John, David; with guides Robert and Freddy in back. At Serengeti East nyumba, Enashiva Reserve, last morning of the safari.
Safari group photo: Peggy, Amy, Erin, Doe, Pam, Mara, Isabel, Andy, John, David; with guides Robert and Freddy in back. At Serengeti East nyumba, Enashiva Reserve, last morning of the safari.

Moosilauke 2015 grid

I’ve probably hiked Moosilauke over 60 times – I just love this mountain.  For 2015 I decided to “grid” Moosilauke by climbing it at least once per month (some people are crazy enough to climb all of the 48 of the NH 4,000-foot mountains every month of the year, aka, “The Grid“).  To avoid too much repetition, I also decided to “redline” the mountain by traveling all of its trails at least once.  I had not visited some of these trails in over 20 years!  It was fun to get up there in all seasons and in a huge range of conditions from nasty winter white-outs to glorious sunshine.  Today I finished, on one of those gorgeous blue-sky days on which you can see all of the Vermont and New Hampshire peaks.  See all 12 months and more photos here.

Moosilauke summit on a beautiful, sunny, warm(!) December day.
Moosilauke summit on a beautiful, sunny, warm(!) December day.