Monday, February 27, 2012

Stinson Mountain - Winter Solo Hiking



Stinson Mountain (2,850ft)
Elevation Gain: 1,300ft
Trails: Stinson Mountain, Snowmobile
Distance: 3.6 miles roundtrip
Duration: 3.75 hr (includes stops for breaks along the trail, and at the summit)
Difficulty: Moderate

Another NH 52 With A View! Located in Rumney, NH, Stinson Mountain is just up the road from the Rumney Rock Climbing area. The lower Doetown Road to the trailhead, as well as the trailhead, wasn't plowed but there wasn't much snow on the ground and I was able to drive to and park at the trailhead. Shortly before starting two other cars pulled  into the parking lot. I wanted to be alone so I quickly got my gear on and headed up the trail.

It was very sunny and temps in the low 20's. About 0.7 mile I had to take off my 3rd layer (my insulated jacket liner) and change to a 'thinner'  3rd layer. It was nice to hike in snow. Back in Massachusetts there is no snow on the ground.....it's just cold and brown! Yuck! To be hiking in snow was invigorating. The snow was fluffy and the trail not packed, but MicroSpikes were enough.

I relished in hiking alone, even if it were only for a while. By the time I reached the old tractor road junction (now a snowmobile trail), a group of hikers had caught up to me. I let them pass, taking my time drinking water and taking photos. I continued up the snowmobile trail staying back from the group and when they got to the hiking trail junction they stopped for a rest. I stopped too, remaining behind them.

The group split with a few of them continuing onto the hiking trail and a couple heading up the snowmobile trail. I continued slowly onto the trail, putting some distance between me and the group. The trail was easy to navigate, although some steep spots were a bit slippery due to the powdery snow over ice.

At the summit, the group of hikers were still there so I went down a side path hoping this would lead me to the ledge for views. No deal, it kept getting steeper so I turned back around but not after putting on my 4th layer, an outer shell. By the time I got back to the summit, the group of hikers had left. I started taking photos from all angles. And I also tried to get my Peaks app on my iPhone working. It was slow but eventually it came up.

I was alone at the summit for 15 minutes when 4 women came up. I recognized 3 of them right away as we had hiked together with the Over 50 Hiking Meetup group. We sat and ate our lunches quickly, chit-chatting as well. We weren't alone for long. A dad and his two sons showed up on their snowmobiles. And shortly after, 3 more guys showed up. They took a quick look around and then left. We watched them as they drove off in their noisy rides, leaving us with their exhaust.

I checked the time and mentioned I had been at the summit for 45 minutes and had to get started back down. I let them know that I was making the loop, by taking the snowmobile trail then getting back onto the Stinson Mountain trail to get back to the trailhead. The 4 of them joined me on the descent. We made it back to the trailhead in just under an hour. It was a brisk walk filled with conversation and laughter as we spoke of youthful appearances, longevity and sex at our ages.

On my way out I stopped by Stinson Lake to see if  I could photograph any ice fishermen. No one was there except for one guy clearing the ice top for hockey practice.

So glad to be able to get out and hike in snow! LOL! Also, this hike was a good chance to try out my new winter hiking boots. I bought a pair of The North Face McMurdo II Women's Winter Boot from EMS. It was such a great deal. Originally priced at $130, I bought these boots on sale for $56! And to boot (no pun intended), I ordered it online and got free shipping. I really like the fit of these new boots better than my Merrill winter boots, they are a good width for my foot. And even with SmartWool socks over a sock liner, it was a comfortable fit and my toes were nice and warm throughout the entire hike! I have two pairs of Merrill brand boots (a winter and a 3-season pair) and those are going back in exchange for a pair of 3-season hiking boots! 

 **Click on photos to view larger images

Almost there!
 At the trailhead
 Along the Stinson Mountain Trail



 I think this is Willoughby Mountain
At the summit (7)

 Mt. Moosilauke through the trees
 Seriously??!! Carry in, carry out!



 Stinson Lake, Rumney, NH

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Stonehouse Pond - Ice Climbing


Stonehouse Pond
Barrington, NH

What a difference a year makes! 13 months ago I wore a borrowed pair of leather boots and mountaineering crampons and kicked my way to the top on my first ice climb! My blog about that first ice climb can be found here: http://lookwhatididadventures.blogspot.com/2011/01/stonehouse-pond-ice-climbing.html

This year I had my own ice climbing boots and crampons, but I didn't have ice axes or ice climbing gloves. So I met up with Kellie at her place to gear up. I showed her my 'cool find' and her husband noticed how dull the front picks were. So he showed me how to correctly file the front points as well as the second row of points. I sure am glad I bought a package of foot sole warmers! They were 3 pairs in a package on sale at Target. I quickly stuck a pair to the bottom of my wool socks and laced up my boots. The boots were really awkward to walk in but I was sure happy to have my very own pair.

We took my truck to the entrance of the Stonehouse Pond. The gate was closed and locked but the driveway in front of it was clear of snow. We met up with the others, Tom, Dan, Steve and Andy. Also parked was the UNH van. We hiked out to the "Moss Slab" going around the pond. When we arrived at the ice crag, there were about 8 other climbers including the UNH guide already there with two ropes set up. Dan went up around top to set up his rope in the middle route. I didn't climb right away. Instead, I stood back watching the other, more experienced climbers and taking photos.

I got to make two climbs today. The first climb I made 3/4 way to the top and my fingers were freezing. So I had Kellie let me down. The second climb was on the fat ice flow in the middle. It was soft but I still had trouble with weighting the axes in order to get a good hold. When I neared the top I had Tom bring me down because not only were my fingers freezing, they were painful! Especially the fingers on my right hand. During my climb I shook out my left hand often but not my right.

Also, looking at my photos, I should wear a jacket that's long enough to tuck under my harness. This will keep it close to my body and keep the heat in too. With the pull on the belay loop, it kept opening the bottom of my white jacket. Now I know why it felt so drafty! LOL!  The temps were much, much colder than last year. I brought some food and my flask of hot green tea which helped to warm me. I wished it were just a bit warmer so I could have stayed longer. I would have set up my tie-in at the top of the cliff so I could get photos from that angle.

As with my first ice climb, I had a lot of help and encouragement from the experienced climbers. That made all the difference in making the climbs! I know for certain I do love ice climbing! Thanks again Kellie...and thanks too to Tom, Dan, Steve and Andy for helping to make this day another memorable one for me!

 **Click on photos to view larger images

The Moss Slab




 My cool find from the "Consignment" section of the 
Koflach ice climbing boots, $45.
Trango Harpoon Dual Point ice climbing crampons, $50.
Vertical ice, priceless!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hedgehog Mountain - Winter Hiking


Hedgehog Mountain (2,532ft)
Elevation Gain: 1,500ft
Trails: UNH
Distance: 4.7 miles roundtrip
Duration: 4.5 hr (includes stops for breaks along the trail, at the east ledge and at the summit)
Difficulty: Moderate

Another NH 52 With A View! And views ga-lore! Such a beautiful trail with a moderate ascent and stunning views that rewarded us today! I met with friends Hawaii-Girl-Cindy and Dwight at the Market Basket in Lee, NH. From there I carpooled with them up to the UNH trailhead on the Kancamagus Highway via routes 125 and 16. On the ride up we couldn't believe our luck, the sun out and not a cloud in the sky!

We arrived at the trailhead parking lot and got started on the trail right away. I purposely picked this mountain/trail as the Over 50 Meetup group had hiked this just yesterday and I knew that the trail would be well broken in. We had our snowshoes with us but only MicroSpikes were needed. The trail was like a sidewalk, amazing!

We hiked this looped trail clockwise. The trail grade was fairly gradual and constant for the first 2 miles, then it narrowed and emerged onto the east ledge. We stopped for a snack break here, enjoying the warm sun and the stunning views. After our ledge break we started up to the summit.

I was impressed with the many ledges as we approached the summit. At the summit there was a couple having their lunch and this would be the only other folks we would cross paths with on the trail.

Dwight picked out a ledge for us to lunch on, with views to the west. We spent about 30 minutes here having our lunch and taking more photos. On the descent we stopped at Allen's Ledge checking out the upper ledge and resting a bit to admire views from the lower ledge.

I was eager to go on this hike as I had not hiked all the month of January due to a cold virus that kept me in the house for 3.5 weeks. It felt great to get out and hike with Cindy as well. Don't remember, but let's just say that it started with the topic of "being bossy and in control". Cindy, Dwight and I admitted we were eldest of our siblings and we laughed and shared 'first born' stories throughout our hike and on the ride back to my truck. It also felt great to be outdoors, hiking in snow, and surrounded by good company and the beautiful New Hampshire White Mountains!

**Click on photos to view larger images