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!

 

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