Monday, February 23, 2009

Weekend in New Hampshire!

New York sunriseHope everyone had a great weekend!

Mine was filled with lots of driving, snow, wind, sun, sweat, tears & a large rock pile by the name of Mount Washington.

So we planned this trip out to Mount Washington out in New Hampshire. We drove out there Friday right after work but first we had to drop off the little one at my parents house up in Columbus. By the time we really got started driving, it was already around 9:30 at night. Driving in shifts, we drove straight through and got to the Joe Dodge Lodge at Pinkham Notch at about noonish Eastern Standard Time as the Lionshead trailhead starts behind the lodge. We did get to see an awesome sunrise in New York though! The weather on the drive out there wasn't too bad at all.

lionshead trail/topo mapI think Eric totally miscalculated the miles we drove because we definitely did not expect to get there that late at all. We were counting on getting there much earlier, say around 8am. Oh well, right? We quickly got geared up in the basement prep room at the lodge and signed in at the register.

As you can see from the trail/topo map on the right, the first half of the hike takes you uphill on the Tuckerman Ravine trail through the beautiful forest that surrounds the mountain. It was quite the slog, but the weather was fantastic! The sun was shining, but you could tell it was going to be windy up past the treeline because you could hear it blowing and gusting in the treetops. Then you come to a T-junction where the Tucks trail goes off to the left and the Lionshead trail starts on the right. That's where the fun steep bits begin. Pinkham is at about 2100 ft above sea level and the Lionshead is at 5083 ft above sea level.slogging uphill

Because I'm not a fast hiker to begin with, it took us about 2.5 hours to get to where the Lionshead trail splits off of the Tuckerman Ravine trail. Because of the late, late start (as Eric had said when we first pulled into the parking lot, 'The latest alpine start evar.') Eric said that our turn around time would be a 5pm.

I actually felt much better on this trip, as opposed to the last time I was there, on the first stretch of the hike since I had been running at home. Big thanks go to my hairy mountainman as he was the one who keep hounding me to go running. Thanks love!:)

I do have to say that when we got to the steep bits of the Lionshead trail, I was intimidated as all get out! You know, the 'Oh shit' factor ;) We got out our crampons and put them on, lashed my trekking poles to my pack and got out our mountaineering axes. And up we went!

steep bits of the Lionshead trailThere was alot of sidestepping using our axes as canes, hooking trees and roots, a little front pointing and some doing what it took to get ourselves up that steep section.

As we were getting higher and higher, the trees were getting shorter and shorter. The wind was definately picking up. Good thing we were layered up and warm & toasty with our hardshell coats on. We would occasionally stop and admire the views which were beautiful and breathtaking. You could see everything below. We definately lucked out a little on the weather out there. There was a storm a couple days before we got there and another was supposed to move in on Sunday when we would already be on the road back home. Towards the end of the treeline, we had stop and put on our windproof balaclavas as our skin would freeze in the cold wind.

beautiful and breathtaking viewsBy the time we got out of the treeline, it was close to 5pm and quite frankly I was more than a little scared. I think a lot of that had to do with the wind, being exposed, not wanting to descend in the dark, etc. You know all that mental stuff, but I was feeling good physically.

Looking back at it now, I should have just pushed through that fear and kept on going. Eric wanted to push on up and tag the rocks at Lionshead before turning around to descend, but he was not willing to leave me behind to do it. It was either we both do it or we both turn around right there.

We ended up turning around. If you're looking at the map, the red dot indicates where we turned around at, a little above the green shading where the trail kinks to the left. I do have to say that there was one point where I was totally and utterly scared out of my mind. But to get back to our car, I had to sack up and do it. I did it, but not without some tears. Gah. Glissading partway down the Lionshead trail shaved off some descent time. There was already a bobsled like channel down where others had slid down on their butts. We got back to the lodge at around 7pm.

All in all, it was an ok trip. Lots of mixed feelings and all. It was definately a soul searching trip. I honestly don't know if I'd do it again. I don't know if this mountaineering thing is for me. This whole suffering for pleasure thing is...well crazy. Although, when I was in the groove slogging away I was actually enjoying myself, the scenery, etc. It really was beautiful. You really do have to have the gumption, that desire, the willingness to dig deep. All the prep in the world isn't going to get you up a mountain if you can't handle it mentally or you flake out, like I did.

Eric says that he felt that I could have gone all the way up to the summit. Physically, yeah I could have done it as I was feeling really good. Mentally, the trip was done as the mountain had already effed with my mind and that was really bad, disappointing. Really, really disappointing actually. Maybe I just needed to kick my fear in the balls and push through it.

He says that we're not going back until I'm ready again and we will go back and summit.

She'll be there. Waiting...

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Angela - Upon Request said...

I think you are much braver than I am to even do this kind of hiking in Winter (but then again I'm a So Cal wimp!)