Month: March 2016

Do-It-Yourself Eyeglass Lanyard

One thing that annoys the heck out of me when hiking is when my glasses slip down my nose. Last summer it was miserable and I would inevitably remove my glasses and stuff them in a pocket (risking breaking them).
Climbing half blind was never appealing, but constantly pushing my glasses up my nose frustrated the heck out of me, not to mention it messed with my pace. Poor Earl had to deal with my crankiness over something so silly.

Eventually I made a lanyard out of 2mm accessory cord. It wasn’t a very good one. I could have bought one, but to be honest, I never remembered when I was at a store that would sell them. The only time I thought about it was when I was on the trail.

A lanyard for my eyeglasses made with 2mm accessory cord
DIY Eyeglass Lanyard

Today I took a few minutes to Google “DIY Eyeglass Lanyard” and found super easy instructions for an adjustable lanyard on a site called Instructables.I can’t wait to give them a try out on the trails!

The Baldfaces – Evans Notch, NH

Who slept like proverbial rocks on Saturday night? We did!

4:15 a.m. came much too early on Easter morning, but the mountains wait for no man. Oh wait. Yes, they do wait! So I pushed the snooze button once. HA HA

We were on the road by 5:15 a.m. We were at the trail head on Route 113 by 7:05 a.m. We were finally going to hike the Baldfaces!

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The Baldfaces (South and North) have been on our hiking “to do” list since we discovered Evans Notch last summer. The loop we planned to follow was about 9.5 miles long. Basically, it would be another 10-mile day. This one, however, would be much more challenging. The Baldfaces top off at just around 3600′ in elevation, with South Baldface being just a bit lower.
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The trail was slippery with ice and snow. We stopped at this comfy looking log to put on our crampons. Earl asked if I wanted the high or low log. I chose the high log. He also chose the high log.

Any guesses as to what happened when we both sat on the log? Yup! It was like being in grade school and playing on the teeter-totter. Earl went tumbling backward, his legs flying up into the air. It took us a minute to even realize what had happened. HA HA
Our next stop, at about 0.7 miles up the trail was the Emerald Pool. What a wonder to discover this out in the middle of the snowy woods!
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The Emerald Pool
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Earl checking out the stream that feeds into the Emerald Pool.

The weather forecast for the day was sunny with temps in the low 50s. The day started out cloudy, but we were hopeful that the sun would burn off the clouds. We had been hiking for about an hour or so when it started snowing.
Sigh… so much for sunshine.Although I didn’t say anything to Earl, the questions running thru my mind were, “Do we need to set a turn around time?” or “Is this a good day to do this hike?”Instead I remained quiet and kept putting one foot in front of the other up the trail.

At one point Earl said, “Hey, look up.”

I looked up. I didn’t see anything but snowy trails and winter woods.

Earl said, “Turn around and look up.”

I turned every which way and looked up. I saw nothing. After two or three turns on the trail, I was more than a bit cranky about the whole thing. Finally I snapped, “Obviously I’m NOT seeing what you want me to see, so just tell me!”

He laughed and pointed to the sky. The sun was starting to break thru the clouds.

Unfortunately, I was too mad to enjoy the promise of sunshine. Silly me!

We eventually broke thru the clouds and saw where we were heading…

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South Baldface – where we were heading. It seemed sooooo far away!
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 An ocean of clouds to the east.
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It was weirdly beautiful to see just the tips of the mountains peeking thru the clouds.
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Taking a break on the summit of South Baldface.

Although the view to the west was breath taking, we took our break facing the east. The wind was a bit too brisk to be comfortable. While we ate our lunch, we watched the Maine clouds start to invade New Hampshire.
We encountered only two men on the trail all day. The first was as we were climbing up South Baldface. The second was as we were crossing between South Baldface and North Baldface. We stopped to chat for a few minutes. He warned us of a few slippery spots we’d encounter on the way down.Talk about understatement!We butt slid down several sections of trail and bushwacked our way around even more ice flows that looked like bone breakers.

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We had to butt slide our way down parts of the mountain. Scary fun!
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 Okay, geologist friends… what made this pattern in the rock?
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 One can never take too many pictures of rocky streams.

Our hiking day started at 7:05 a.m. We got back to the car at 5:20 p.m. We’d been on the trail for more than 10 hours.
We started the day in clouds and snow flurries and ended the day in clouds and snow flurries. The in-between hours were filled with sunshine and warmth.We were exhausted. We stopped at the Stow Corner Store, in Stow, Maine hoping to have our traditional after-hike ice cream. As we approached the store, though, we saw that it was dark.We were disappointed. Earl parked and told me to go see if it was open. No, he wasn’t being bossy, his legs just weren’t working properly. HA HA  As I got out of the car, a woman opened the door and asked if she could help us. I said we were hoping to buy some ice cream. She invited us in, saying that she’d closed up a few minutes early, but that she would be happy to get us our ice cream.

And that is how you end a day on the mountains!

Castle in the Clouds – Again

Earl had to work for a few hours on Saturday morning so I suggested we go back to the Castle in the Clouds. It’s about an hour and a half drive for us and the trails are pretty easy on the legs. I thought this would get us outside, but wouldn’t be too strenuous. This was important because we planned to to do a 10-mile hike up the Baldfaces on Sunday.

The plan was to hike 2.5 miles up Mt. Roberts (where I hiked last Saturday). Earl had not climbed this 2580′ mountain yet. I was also hoping we would cover a couple more of the trails in the Lake Region Conservation Trusts’ Castle in the Clouds list so I could earn a patch for hiking all the trails.

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Earl with Lake Winnipesaukee in the background
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Earl at the summit of Mount Roberts. Mt Washington can be seen from this spot.
Although I had jokingly texted Earl that it would be a “gentle hike to stretch our legs” and that “10 miles should be enough to stretch our legs” and “Just kidding on the 10 miles tomorrow,” I really didn’t expect to hike 10 miles on Saturday. I thought it would be approximately 7 or 8 miles total.

It was only when I was looking at the trail map today that I discovered we had missed a turn (and thus more direct route) back to the trailhead.
It  has happened to me before at Castle in the Clouds. The trail signs can be a little confusing. Consider yourself warned!

Despite the extra miles we walked, it was a lovely day to be out in the woods.

Castle in the Clouds, Moultonborough, NH

Today I solo hiked over 10 miles of the Lake Region Conservation Trust’s Castle in the Clouds trails. Earl had other commitments for the day, and I have been determined to get back to this trail system to complete all the trails and earn the Hiker Achievement Patch.

The day was cold with temps in the mid-30s. The wind was blustery at 10 mph and gusting to 23 mph according to the weather forecast. Brrrr…

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Because I was hiking alone and planned to hike well into the woods, I went well prepared (Remember this. It will be important later in my tale). I did not weigh the pack before I left home, but I’m guessing it was around 20 – 25 lbs.

In my 50L pack I carried a down quilt, a tarp tent, an air mattress, extra clothes, my water filter and toiletries. And of course, I had water and food.
One of the things I love about hiking is the quiet time to reflect on the things that are troubling me. Recently I’ve been struggling with my job situation. I love love love the job that I do and most of the people I work with. But the owner of the company has become more involved in day-to-day operations lately and her micro-managing is wearing me down. So I’ve been debating whether to stay or leave. The good is very very good, but the bad is miserable and quickly wipes away the goodness.I did not resolve my dilemma today, but my brain found a place of peace while I was on the trail.

Below are some pictures from the day’s hike.

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The Whitten Cemetary – There are also several cellar holes along the Settlement Trail.
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There is a moment when the trail opens up and you see the world before you.
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Overlooking Lake Winnepesaukee, NH

You can see how big my pack is in this picture. it’s important to be prepared for the unexpected especially when hiking alone.20160319_134021

It’s been a mild winter here in New England, but parts of the trail were holding on to remnants of the season.
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This was a beautiful little waterfall. It literally took my breath away. And not because it was at the top of a big climb. Unfortunately, this picture can’t quite do it justice.

At the summit of Mt Roberts, I met three women–the first people I had seen all day! One woman commented on the size of my pack. She said, “It’s so nice to see someone else who came out here prepared!”

We talked for a few minutes about what we were carrying and about the many people we’ve seen out hiking in the winter with very small or no packs.

It’s so important to be prepared!

This morning Earl commented on the size of my pack. I was a bit surprised because we always go out prepared. Of course, he usually thinks more about these things than I do. So I proudly informed him that I had the down quilt, shelter, extra clothes, food and water. I forgot to tell him I remembered the insulated air mattress, though.

After our short conversation, the women started back down the mountain and I continued the short distance to the summit sign and view of Mt Washington.

20160319_141707Just behind the evergreen tree in the center of the picture is a snow-covered Mt. Washington.

It was too windy to stay and admire the view. This is where I would have liked to stop for lunch, but I only took time to put on my wind-block fleece and heavier gloves.

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Heading back to the trailhead (2.5 miles from the summit of Mt. Roberts) down the Mt. Roberts Trail.

This was the perfect place to stop for a snack. The wind was light, the sun was warm, the view was stunning. I sat on a rock, pulled out a packet of tuna fish, and enjoyed the solitude and the warmth of the sun. 

PictureI bet this trail was all ice just a few weeks ago. Today there were a few icy spots, but most of it was clear and dry.

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The brown spot in the center of the photo is the parking area. I still had another mile or so to go, but it sure was good to see it down there!

Soon after this picture was taken, I met a man on the trail. He was wearing blue jeans and carried a small pack. I am sure he was okay, but still the worrier in me worried about his safety and comfort.
Please don’t wear blue jeans or other cotton clothing when hiking! On a day like today, with just above freezing temperatures and gusty winds, hypothermia is a real threat. When cotton clothes get damp from sweat (which they WILL do when you are climbing a mountain) they will not dry and they will not keep you warm.I was wearing a wool base layer and a polyester wind-block shirt for most of the day and was extremely comfortable even though I was lightly sweating. At the summit of Mt. Roberts I donned a wind-blocking fleece jacket because the energy used going down is less than that used going up.

Anyway… if I had been wearing cotton, I would have been at high risk for hypothermia.

Okay… lecture over…

Soon after passing the lone man, i thought I heard voices ahead of me. I kept expecting to meet others on the trail, but no one ever appeared. Soon I discovered why. The people I had heard were hiking in the same direction as me.

Before long I caught up to the women I had met at the summit.

“You hike fast!” the woman I had talked with earlier said.

I laughed. Imagine that… someone thought I hiked fast!

We chatted for a short distance about the mountains and lists of mountains (NH 4000-footers, 52 with a View, Winter 4000-footers, etc.) she had climbed. She is definitely a seasoned hiker! When one of the other women in the group suggested they bushwack down a hill to cut off the extra steps the switchback required, I wished them a good day and continued on the marked trail.

It was such an amazing day to be out in the woods. I am so blessed to have adventures in the mountains of New England!

 

Table Rock, Grafton Notch, ME

Have you ever changed your plans on a whim? For a planner like me, it can be a bit disconcerting. But that’s exactly what we did.

Our initial plan was to head to Little Concord Pond State Park to hike Bald and Speckled Mountains. We hadn’t hiked these particular trails since early last summer. We were well on our way to our destination 85 miles from home.

We talked about long summer weekends and where we wanted to hike. I suggested we hike the eastern segment of the Grafton Notch loop. Last spring we had hiked the 13-mile Western segment. It seemed fitting to finish the 21-mile Eastern Loop this year.

We reminisced about the trails in Grafton Notch and our failed attempt (due to time, not energy) to reach East Baldpate last summer. We talked about wanting to hike to Table Rock, a vista point on Bald Pate Mountain.

And that’s when it happened…

After consulting Google maps and seeing that we were already well on our way to Grafton Notch, we agreed to change our plans.

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Earl is pointing to the Table Rock at the top of the mountain.
Good thing we took this picture AFTER we did the hike, otherwise Earl may not have gone up there!
We didn’t have a trail map, but we knew the trail to Table Rock was off the Appalachian Trail which is very well marked. But I still took a picture of the map at the trail head. That’s just me, being me.
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It was a beautiful late winter day. The temps were in the mid-50s and there was little wind. There was little snow in the woods, but the trail itself was a solid path of ice. We definitely needed our trail crampons!

We passed several people who didn’t have any traction on their feet and they were having a tough time of it. Is it horrible of us to gloat that we finally managed to pass people on the trail? HA HA
We did not encounter them again, so they must have eventually turned around. We did wonder how long they stayed on the trail, because we wouldn’t have stayed on it long if we didn’t have our crampons on.
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1346688 The staples in this picture are how you usually climb the last bit to reach Table Rock, but with our crampons on, it would have been tricky. I scurried over to the right and pulled myself along the wall to the top.

Apparently there is cut-off to the left of the staples that skirt this climb, too. Oops! Didn’t notice it on the way up. I did notice it when we were going back down, but I wanted to slide down the rock instead!

Photo by Wendy Almeida

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The view from Table Rock
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Earl doesn’t like heights so he was very brave to get close enough to the edge to take this picture.
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 Earl thought I was too close to the edge. What do you think?

Although I was a bit nervous about the last minute change to our plans, I am so glad we made the choice that we did.
As we were ready to conclude our hike, we pulled to the side of the trail to remove our crampons. There were wooden beams in place to protect the vegetation. A group of young hikers were crossing on their way to start up the trail.A young woman said, “Look at them! We are so unprepared!”We laughed and wondered how far they would make it up the trail before slip, sliding, and giving up.It reminded me of the 3-day hike we had done in the same area in early May 2015. There seemed to be no snow, so we didn’t bother to bring our snowshoes. I think Earl’s were in the car, and my snowshoes were already put away in my basement. We definitely needed snowshoes. You can read about that adventure here.

During these shoulder seasons, you need to have gear for either. Although carrying the extra weight can be a nuisance, especially when you don’t need the items, you will be so glad to have them if you do.