Saturday, November 26, 2016
Outside starting temp: 32 degrees F
Outside ending temp: 40 degrees F
Trails taken: Route 113 to Mt Meader Trail to Meader Ridge Trail (to the summit of Mt. Meader)
Total distance (Out and Back): approximately 7.2 miles
Total adventure time: 5 1/2 hours
Earl wanted to do an overnight backpacking trip this weekend, but I’ve been a bit stressed over some things that need to get done around home. In the spirit of compromise, we did a 7.2-mile out and back hike to Mount Meader in NH today. Tomorrow we will do some cleaning!
The 2-hour drive to New Hampshire was uneventful except for a patch of black ice that elicited a squeak from Earl. My heart jumped to my throat but I’m not sure if it was the sensation of the car sliding on the road, or Earl’s high-pitched shriek.
We parked in the snow-covered Baldface Circle parking lot and walked the 0.6 miles to the Mount Meader Trail trailhead. We experienced first hand the fact that bridges, do indeed, freeze over before the road! We both slipped on the ice at about the same time. It was pretty funny as we stumbled to recover our footing.
The Mount Meader Trail starts off as a dirt road type of path. There were tire marks and we weren’t quite sure if we were on the trail until we saw a bright yellow blaze on a tree. The country lane feel of the path lasted for about a mile, until we reached Brickett Falls.
Brickett Falls was lovely! We talked about going back in deep winter to see how it looks frozen over and then again in the spring when the snow melt and thaw would make it thunderous. There were many pools and ledges and falls.
Speaking of falls, Earl nearly fell into one! I wanted to take his picture in front of the falls and he slipped on the wet leaves. Down he went, very gracefully, I will say. I thought for sure he was going into the pool at the base of the falls, but a fallen tree limb stopped his slide. His boots got a little wet, but otherwise he was fine.
We had noticed on the map at the parking lot that this trail had a lot of switchbacks starting at about the 2-mile mark. Switchbacks typically indicate the terrain is steep. Switchbacks ease the incline angle by spreading it out over a greater distance. We were grateful!
Our hiking speed was slow due to the snow and wet leaves. We kept talking about being glad we had our crampons with us for the descent, but we never did stop to put them on as we were climbing the mountain! Silly us.
The snow on the trees was heavy and wet. We had to be careful walking beneath branches hanging over the trail because they would dump snice (snow + ice) on us. Too often, this snice went down my back! Brrrrr.
At the first open ledge area, the view was partially amazing. The clouds blocked some of the mountains we knew we should be able to see, but there were a few gaps in the clouds that made the view spectacular!
Feeling a bit playful, I took off my pack, laid down in the snow and made a snow–er–trail angel! It was fun.
We continued up (meaning we crawled at times) the treacherous trail to the intersection of the Mount Meader Trail and the Meader Ridge Trail. We continued on the Meader Ridge Trail to the summit (or what we think was the summit) of Mount Meader.
The Meader Ridge Trail continues another couple of miles to Eagle Crag but we had planned to turn around at the summit and head back to the car. I stopped in a wooded area to put my Hillsound Trail crampons on. I wanted a place to sit (a fallen log was perfect!), but Earl didn’t want to have snice (snow + ice) falling on his head so he kept walking.
I sat for a moment and enjoyed the quiet. I enjoyed the sound of the snow falling from the trees.
When I stood and took my first steps, I felt confident with my footing. I quick-stepped my way up the trail expecting to catch up with Earl quickly. After all, he wasn’t wearing his magic trail shoes yet!
And then the silence was broken by a dog barking and a man yelling.
At first I thought Earl had surprised a hunter and his dog. But when I rounded a corner I saw that it was a pair of hikers, dressed in blaze orange, The large dog was on a leash, sitting quietly. Apparently the dog felt threatened by trekking poles and barked when he saw Earl’s.
We chatted with these hikers for a few minutes, then they headed off. Earl put his crampons on and we headed down the trail.
Not surprisingly the ledges that we struggled to climb up, were fairly easy to manage going down. There were only a couple of spots where I butt slid my way down.
The switchbacks that were a bit scary on the ascent were easy peasy on the descent. Not once did I feel like I would slide off the trail and down the mountain. I know, I could have felt that security on the way up if I’d had half a brain!
In my defense, the extra traction of crampons comes with a price. Although they don’t weigh a lot (about a pound for the pair), that extra 8 ounces on each foot feels heavy. Wet snow and leaves cling to the crampons, making them ineffective, so the crampons frequently need to be stomped clean. The 1/2″ spikes also make walking on non-snow covered surfaces uncomfortable because your foot is not contacting solid ground.
It was wonderful when the trail leveled out and we were able to remove our crampons. Although we slipped a few times on the trail, it was much easier than keeping the crampons in place.
We reached Route 113 just after 1 p.m. and walked the short distance back to the car. We changed into dry socks and shoes and headed back to Maine.
On the drive home Earl said, “We should get home at around 3:30 p.m. I wonder what I’ll do. You probably have that all figured out, don’t you?”
Of course I did! This is what compromise in a relationship is all about!