Thursday, August 27, 2015

Another Classroom

Another Classroom

Another Classroom
Cathedral Ledge
North Conway, NH

After bagging the summit of Iron Mountain, I drove over to the top of Cathedral Ledge to visit a new crag that George Hurley found and developed called "Another Classroom". It was really easy to find – just drive to the parking lot at the top of Cathedral Ledge. Just before reaching the parking circle, about 100 feet on the left side of the road, is a wide, flat, white granite slab. From here, follow the trail that leads to the climber's descent trail. Follow the trail to the left and down onto the Thin Air trail. At the bottom where Thin Air goes to the right, take a left and follow a small path along a large gray wall and you will see the "Another Classroom" wall. You can't miss's bolted! ;)

**No, I didn't get to climb any of the routes.

Another Classroom is the wall facing you as you make your way down this small path along a large gray wall on your left.

Anyways, per Al Hospers of update:

The routes, from left to right:
Purgatory Corner (5.3) All traditional gear. FA - George Hurley and Michael Kahn
Desperado Crack (5.4) All traditional gear. FA - George Hurley and Michael Kahn
Hipster (5.6) FA Jeff Lea and Joe Perez
High Moral Ground (5.4) FA Geoff Wilson and George Hurley
What Is Hip? (High Moral Ground Direct Direct) (5.6) FA Al Hospers and Jeff Lea
Hip Hip Hooray (5.5) Judy and Joe
Hippy Hop (5.5) FA Al Hospers and Judy Perez
Bagels + (5.5+) FA - George Hurley and Frank Dahlmeyer
Areted Development (5.5) FA - George Hurley and Michael Kahn

All routes are bolted except Purgatory Corner 
and Desperado Crack which are both trad.

High Moral Ground which is effectively a solo and has no gear at all except for a blue X4 to protect the top-out, 'What Is Hip' uses the same X4 as 'High Moral Ground' and 'Bagels +' which requires using a sling to thread in the tenuous flake on the right. 

Top view of Another Classroom

Another view from the top

Just around the corner of Another Classroom is this wall

Photos of couple other walls at the top of Cathedral Ledge

Thanks to George Hurley and Michael Khan in finding and developing this crag!

Iron Mountain - Solo Hike

Shaka from the Iron Mountain summit

Iron Mountain (2,726 ft)
Elevation Gain: 800 ft
Miles: 1.6 roundtrip
Duration: 1hr, 15min (includes stops along the trail and at the summit)
NH 52 With A View
Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Another fine day to bag a NH 52 With A View summit! Although not much views at the summit, but there were views on the way to the summit.

A side path (0.6 mile) lead to a great outlook up the Rocky Branch Valley

While a ledge on the left of the trail at 0.7 mile, provided some eastward views.

Some photos along the Iron Mountain trail
(yes, I love photo collages!)

I didn't have time to check out the Mine or the south ledges beyond the summit. 
But I hope to be able to return to check those out when I can get a clearer day. 


Fire tower remnants at the summit

Clouds over the Presidential Range

After bagging the summit, I hurried back down to the trailhead and headed over to Cathedral Ledge to check out some newly bolted routes on a new rock climbing crag called Another Classoom. 4 other hikers and a dog headed up while I was coming down. And a group of 5 were out strolling up the dirt road past the trailhead parking lot as I was coming off the trail. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Glen Boulder - Solo Hike

Shaka from Glen Boulder above Pinkham Notch!

Glen Boulder  (3,700ft)
Trail: Glen Boulder
Elevation Gain: 1,750 feet
Mile: 3.2 roundtrip
Duration: 3hrs, 20 minutes (includes stop along the trail and at the boulder)
Difficulty: Easy to moderately strenuous
Danger: Low to High (there are several water crossings, very slippery rocks, steep section, exposed rock scrambling, loose rocks along trail)

I almost didn't leave my house today because it was raining over it! LOL!

But I figured I’d just drive up north and check it out anyways. And I might as well since I was already packed. As I headed to North Conway, the skies gave way to sunshine and fluffy white clouds. I couldn’t believe how clear it was - weatherman wrong again! As I passed the Glen Ellis Falls trailhead I looked up and got a good view of the Glen Boulder and decided to give it a go. I had been curious about this glacial erratic for some time and wanted to see what it was all about. This would be a perfect short, steep hike to get in some rock scrambling and catch some good views. I banged a ‘u’ and pulled into the parking lot, almost full but with most folks heading to the Glen Ellis Falls.

Heading up the trail I was glad it wasn’t humid. I stopped often to take photos and to admire the trail below treeline. This may well be the trail I’d be traveling to summit Mt. Isolation one day.  Not too many folks on the trail as I made my way up. But once I got to the boulder, others started showing up. I spent about 40 minutes at the boulder eating lunch and taking photos and chatting with folks also eating their lunches at the boulder. On my way back down to the trailhead I passed more folks on their way up including a family of 4 with no hiking gear and lugging a gallon of Market Basket spring water. Near the trailhead it started to get really humid and sticky which momentarily annoyed me. But once I got to the trailhead and out from under the trees, it was less humid. So glad I finally made the hike to Glen Boulder…..a good day for it, I’d say!

Enjoy some photos taken on my hike to the Glen Boulder!

Along the Glen Boulder Trail

There are several beautiful waterfalls along this trail. 
But I stopped at this one to try out my waterproof camera.
This "display model" cost me $30. I stuck it under water and it works!

Yay, the Alpine Zone, finally!! This is the part the trail leaves the trees and 
climbs over open rocks. The photo on the right shows a section of rock that 
might be a tad sketchy for those afraid of heights or not used to scrambling.

Yay, more rock scrambling!

Sitting behind the boulder overlooking Pinkham Notch.

Looking towards Gulf of Slides, Tuckerman & Huntington Ravines

Looking up at the open ridge crest from the boulder

Route 16 from Glen Boulder

Looking back down the Glen Boulder Trail

The Wildcats

A little better view of the Gulf of Slides

My chocolate zucchini cupcake

Side of the boulder that faces the Pinkham Notch

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Kearsarge North - Solo Hike

Shaka from the summit of Kearsarge North!

Kearsarge North (3,268 ft)
Trail: Kearsarge
Elevation Gain: 2,600 ft
Miles: 6.2 roundtrip
Duration: 4 hrs, 15 min (includes stops along the trail and at the summit for 30 minutes)
NH 52 With A View
Difficulty: Easy to moderately strenuous

I checked the weather report and today was the best out of the weekend for hiking. But I totally didn’t check the humidity levels! :( Having EIA (exercise-induced asthma) I really should pay close attention to the air quality index. But I was all gung-ho to get out and hike something short and easy (or so I thought) after last Saturday’s epic hike to the summit of Mt.Katahdin.

It started off easy enough but after about 35 minutes into the hike, I realized that it was more humid than I was thought it would be. I stopped to get a quick drink and thought about turning back….maybe head over to Mt. Stanton for shorter hike? But I was already here and figured so long as I kept pace, kept *nasal breathing and kept hydrated, I should be fine. On the other hand, if the humidity worsened, then I’d definitely turn back.

*I started "nasal-breathing-only" during exercise while on my Colorado trip and it does help. For starters it helps me relax and when I'm relaxed, I can keep a better breathing pace. I also find that I don't feel like I'm gasping for air or hyperventilating when nasal breathing. 1995 Study.

A couple came up behind me and we chatted for a bit. Found out we both have asthma but he forgot to bring his inhaler. I prodded along at my pace and the both of them would run past me, then stop and sit so he could catch his breath. I would walk past them as they sat resting and then they’d catch up and run past me again…then stop and sit so he could catch his breath. I passed them once more and quickened my pace and breathing as fast as I could comfortably endure. I wanted to get higher as fast as I could for cooler air. I finally made the summit in just under 2 hours and it was so much easier to breath! There were 3 other people there and tons of dragonflies! The air was still, not even a tiny breeze. But thanks to all those dragonflies, not one mosquito! Another hiker checked the temps for me…..80 degrees at the summit, it was 95 at the parking lot. I quickly took some photos, signed the log book and ate my lunch and chocolate zucchini bread. Only spent 30 minutes at the summit.

There were more folks coming up, but that couple never showed. After asking around, a couple of guys said they saw the couple headed back down to the trailhead. I hope he’s alright. Overheard the other 6 hikers that had come up behind me - it took them to 2 hours to ascend due to the humidity as well.

I’m calling this “easy to moderately strenuous” because I had a tough time breathing in this humidity.

Enjoy some photos I took on my hike!

My favorite parts of trails are slabs of granite!

More photos along the trail

Fire tower & log book

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Mt. Katahdin - Hiking

Mt. Katahdin
Elevation: 5,268ft
Trails: Hunt
Elevation Gain:  4,188 ft
Trailhead: Katahdin Stream Campground, Baxter State Park
Distance: 10.4 miles roundtrip
Duration: 11 hours (includes stops along the trail and the summit)
Listed at the 7th highest in the Northeast
Difficulty: Easy to Very Strenuous
Danger: Low to High (steep sections, exposed rock scrambling, loose rocks along trail)

Epic hike with some rock climbing buddies! 

My climbing friend Noreen put this hike together. Originally, we were planning to hike from the Roaring Brook Campground taking the moderate Chimney Pond Trail up. But Maine residents had first dibs on parking permits and by the time us non-Maine residents went online to book, all the parking at the Roaring Brook Campground were sold out. And they do not allow "drop-offs" to any of the trailheads or at the Togue Pond Gate. They are very strict in maintaining parking capacities at each trailhead parking area. Hiking Katahdin isn't like hiking in NH. You can't just drive or walk into a trailhead and start hiking. You MUST make reservations. Please visit for more information.

So while Noreen made reservations at the Wilderness Edge Campground and I at the Katahdin Inn & Suites, we got parking permits  for the Katahdin Stream Campground (Hunt trailhead). That meant hiking out and back along the Hunt Trail.

When I first saw the Hunt trail elevation gain on the Baxter State Park website, I couldn’t believe it. No way it could be over 4,100 feet, but it is! The elevation gain from the trailhead to the summit is 4,188 feet. Had we been able to get parking permits at the Roaring Brook Campground and started at the gradual Chimney Pond trail, our elevation gain would be under 3,800 feet.

Here's the Mt. Katahdin trail map I used for this hike. The bright pink dots is the route we hiked along the Hunt Trail. The yellow dots are along the route we originally wanted to take in order to hike over the Knife Edge. (Chimney Pond Trail (3.3mi/1,425ft), Dudley Trail to Pamola Peak (1.4mi/1,988ft) and Knife Edge from Pamola Peak to Katahdin summit (1.1mi/365ft) for a total of 5.8mi/3,778 feet of elevation gain. Descend via Saddle Trail)

But the elevation gain didn’t deter me. I’ve done several 10 mile hikes in “The Whites”, just not at that elevation gain. This was gonna be interesting.

Everyone came up to Millinocket on Friday. I spent the afternoon getting some fruit from Hannaford’s and picked up a (National Geographic) Baxter State Park map from the North Woods Trading Post. I also checked out the Appalachian Trail CafĂ© in case I wanted to get a bite to eat there later. Since I had a microwave and fridge in my room, I brought meals from home to eat.  I woke the morning of our hike feeling well-rested and eager to hike. I met up with everyone at the Wilderness Edge Campground by 6am and we drove to the Togue Pond Gate. 

We got in line but didn’t have a long wait, they were letting folks in. At the Togue Pond Gate two park rangers checked-in cars of hikers. We had to show them our parking permits and made sure it was displayed in our front window. 

Just after the rangers station is a split in the dirt road - right to Roaring Brook Campground, left to the Abol and Katahdin Stream Campgrounds. Once at the Katahdin Stream Campground, rangers directed hikers where to park. A quick run to the Outhouse, gear up, a group photo and we were on our way.

The park ranger at the trailhead was very informative. She had us sign into the hiker sign-in sheet and said that most folks complete the hike in 8-10 hours round trip. She told us that the Hunt Trail is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. She also told us that if we needed to go poop, please do it “off trail” and preferably dig a cat hole to bury it. And that at 1 mile in, at the Katahdin Stream bridge , there is an Outhouse. And so we’re off to a great start! :)

Enjoy our photos taken along the beautiful and strenuous Hunt Trail!

From the Katahdin Stream Campground the trail ascends at a moderate grade through mixed forests and open areas. Just before the Katahdin Stream crossing the Owl Trail veers off to the left to the summit of The Owl. 

Wooden footbridge at the Katahdin Stream crossing (Outhouse is here)

Katahdin Stream

Katahdin Stream Falls

Along the Hunt Trail

Up a beautiful stone staircase for this view!

Mitsu 1, Mitsu 2 and Sharon

Taking a quick little break

Here the treeline ends near the 2.8 mile mark which also coincides
with the beginning of the boulder scramble on the Hunt Spur. 
Woot, this is where the fun starts!!!
If you're a (Trad) rock climber like I am, you'll appreciate the Hunt Spur! ;)
About 1,000 feet of elevation gain while rock scrambling, 
and all without having to place any protection whatsoever!

The views and the exposure from here on are just amazing!!
The rock scrambling along this trail is considered Class 2/2+. 
While I do agree with this, I also found several spots to be Class 3. 

Here's Sharon clearing the iron rung.

Of course we always have time to stop and pose! LOL!

Low passing clouds covered our view of the Witherle Ravine

Noreen posing below our steep climb to The Gateway


Yup, just two more miles to go to the summit

Noreen all badass

Looking back at that gorgeous trail!
Sharon isn't a rock climber but she sure scrambled like a boss!

Look how small Noreen and I look in the background, LOL!

Finally at "The Gateway"

More low passing clouds

Thoreau Spring 
At the junction of the Abol and the Baxter Peak cut-off trails

The Abol Trail (along the Abol Slide) is closed due to
hazard conditions on the Slide. May re-open in 2016.

Along the "Tableland" with just half a mile to go!

The first thing I did when I got to the summit was to touch the sign!

Our group photo

It was a like a giant party at the summit. Groups of folks gathered in their own circles were lunching and laughing. More folks coming up the trail. More folks tagging the sign and taking photos. We got in our photos and I was able to take our group photo using my selfie stick. Then onto food. I passed around the small container of my chocolate zucchini bread. Then finished off the other half of my peanut butter sandwich. Anne let me take a bite of her peanut butter and maple bacon sandwich….OMG - such a wonderful combination! Mitsu passed out beef jerky that looked like little cigars.  

Shots from the summit

We were hoping that the clouds would clear before we left the summit.
Sadly, no views of the South Basin, Chimney Pond or the Knife Edge

We sang Happy Birthday to Simona!

On our way down the clouds did give way some
Little Abol Stream smack-dab in the middle
Rum Mountain a bit to the left

Cairn along the Tableland

Along the "Tableland"

I think that's the summit of "The Owl"

Low passing cloud

Going down

And down some more

I did a practice 10.2 mile hike to Carter Dome and Mt. Hight last weekend. It wasn't the same elevation gain as we did today. But I wanted to do the distance. I was really, really tired....woke up early to drive 3 hours to the trailhead. Then hike. Then a 4.5 hour drive home in traffic in North Conway and on I-95 south on a Sunday night....exhausting! But because I didn't have to get up early and drive 3/4 hours to the trailhead, I had a lot of energy and wasn't tired throughout this hike to Katahdin. On the other hand, towards the end of the hike I was starving because I didn't pack enough food. My bad, I thought I'd be down in time for dinner. I brought 3L of fluids on this hike and had half a liter left at then end of the hike.

Surprisingly, my knees didn't hurt! I did skin my right knee in a couple of spots. But had I been wearing my neoprene brace on it, like I wore on my left knee, I don't think it would be all cut up and bleeding, like that. But nothing serious! I also brought my trekking poles, like I always do on all my other hikes. I didn't use them ascending but thought I'd be using them on the descent. But I didn't need them on the descent as well. I felt comfortable not using them. And definitely no trekking poles on the rock scramble sections!

Overall, I loved this hike. The rock scrambling is by far, my absolutely FAVORITE part of this trail! I'd love to hike the Hunt Trail again, even as a solo! On the other hand, I'd also love to backpack to the Chimney Pond Campground for a couple of days and summit via Dudley and the Knife's Edge trails. But my all-time "gotta do" is a winter hike up to the summit. Hoping the Abol Trail opens soon. :) 

I consider myself fortunate to have hiked the Hunt Trail as 2.4 miles of this trail is above treeline with amazing 360 degree views. And not only was it my first time, it was our group's first time climbing Mt. Katahdin as well. One hiker in our group got their knee replaced couple of years ago. The descent was brutal even with trekking poles. But given the difficulty of the trail, the hike was an accomplishment - we all tagged Katahdin and made it down safely - of our own accord! A great big "Mahalo" to Noreen for inviting me to follow her into the beautiful woods and over cool rocks of the Baxter State Park in Maine!

I will never forget this hike, ever!