Wednesday, September 23, 2015

48th & Final Summit; Mount Carrigain


It's official. I have completed my New Hampshire 48 Four-Thousand Footers.

What list am I going to do next?
Answer is:  No list. I am officially done having a list as my goal. It was a great thing to start with as a beginner hiker because it kept me pushing on ward to do something I enjoyed doing so much. However, the "list" thing got old quickly as soon as the millions of hiker friends I had were done with theirs. Don't get me wrong it was still very much enjoyable it just annoyed me for the following question I had throughout the 4 years working on my "list".

Have you completed the 4k's yet?For 4 years I worked on completing this so called list. However, have I completed them yet? What do you mean by yet? No, obviously not. I am clearly celebrating on the summit of each one. Don't judge my experience as a hiker based on how many rounds of the 48 I have done. This was one of my biggest annoyances with this list. I found that a lot of people who had already completed at least one round felt the entitlement of being a "more experienced" hiker because of it. This is a false statement. At the time, no, I had no completed all of my 48 but I had however, hiked all across this country and that included some mountains at much higher altitude. I also, had been for 2 of those years working as a volunteer on a local Search and Rescue team (that mind you, you have to pass a "shake down" hike and be certified for certain things to be on). I had read books and books of things on back country skills and had taken a WFA Course and a Mountaineering Course over the years. As well as having training in avalanches.

You're probably reading this blog thinking "Shouldn't she be celebrating her accomplishment instead of ranting?" That's ok. I am just let out the rant that is upon most hikers and I want to send the message out to others who are still in the process of completing their 48 first round. It is ok to NOT have completed it yet, it does NOT make you more or less experienced as a hiker. I also want others to know that completing a list does NOT and will never define you as a person or the type of hiker you are. This is obviously all based on my own personal opinion in which I am absolutely entitled too.

Now, moving on to my completion! I was trying to hold off to complete with Trish, Alex, and Sage. However, our schedules are both busy and kept conflicting. Then I was going to try and finish on my birthday and I decided on a Presidential Traverse instead.

Well Tuesday night rolled around and I had contacted Whitney to tell her a funny story. In conversation I had asked when her days off were and she mentioned she had Wednesday off and was planning to do some red lining in Carrigain Notch. Well, I asked if I could join her and bag my 48th Peak. It was a total spur of the moment thing, and I knew the weather would be exactly what I wanted it to be for my finish so I tagged along on her journey and she joined on mine.

I am not a huge fan of having to hike with a group of people and that's why my original plan was to finish with Trish and her girls. I wasn't looking to have a giant party on top of a mountain either. I just wanted to hike another mountain.

I planned to pick Whitney up at her place at 7:00am and we had planned to hit the trail by 8:00am. We would hike into Carrigain Notch and then summit via the Desolation Trail. Which is exactly what most friends had suggest I do. I have heard nothing but horror stories on the Signal Ridge Trail. How boring it can be and feel like it just drags on.

Whitney and I have the type of friendship that we get together and can pick up exactly where we left off no matter how much time goes by. We hadn't hiked together since spring so we had lots to chit chat about. I also could not wait to hear all about her hut to hut in 24 hours.

We pulled into the parking lot just before 8:00am. It was about 40 degrees. We both hit the trail running. Okay, well not technically running but moving pretty fast. Within the firs half mile we jetted past 2 other hikers. We made friendly and quick exchanges and continued moving as quick as we could to warm our bodies up.

The first 1.7 miles of Signal Ridge Trail went by extremely fast. We stood at the junction of the loop and we took the right to head into Carrigain Notch via the Carrigain Notch Trail. For the next 2.3 miles we trekked along chatting and enjoying some of the most beautiful parts of the trail system in the White's. There was one small up hill on this section but nothing to tough. and then it was flat windy gorgeous trekking for another 1.8 to the next junction.

Meanwhile, Whitney and I were talking about seeing moose and sort of hoping to see some way out in the middle of nowhere land. Although we both knew it was rut season and both agreed we wouldn't want to get that close to one that far out in the wilderness. Unfortunately we did not run into much wildlife, except a few grouse.

We hit the Junction of Nancy Pond Trail, took a left and had .8 of a mile until the next junction. This is where we would do some redlining Whitney had missed on a previous hike. By 10:00am we were starting our red lining. We did a quick 1.6 round trip to the Stillwater Junction. .8 there and .8 miles back. Once back at the Desolation Junction we found a gorgeous spot along the river and crossed over it, sat down on a rock and ate a quick snack while soaking in some vitamin D.

This section of the trail was by far one of my most favorite spots I have ever seen in the Whites. It is absolutely secluded. You feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere (which you kind of are) and beautiful camping spots near and or along the river. The river had huge swimming holes with sunlight beaming directly onto them. I will be returning to this spot next summer for sure!

Off to accomplish my final 48. We started up the Desolation Trail. I had heard stories of this trail. I sort of knew what to expect. I pretty much knew it would be straight up and very steep for the 1.9 miles to the summit. It sure was.

Whitney and I started up. We kept a great pace witch we both could still walk and hold a conversation without having to stop much to do so. Like I always say "slow and stead wins the race". It was what I would considerate a moderate steepness in the first half of this trail, and also pretty smooth with minimal rock or roots covering the trail. Soon enough the trail starts to get rockier and a bit steeper as you continue upward. Even walking over old wiring that runs along the trail, from when the tower used to be in use.

As soon as you get your first peak through the trees the trail because a giant step master of huge stone rocks. For a couple tenths this required me to used both my hands and feet to crawl up and over them. I could feel we were nearing the end and with the last turn we took I could see the tower right in front of me. But not without one last climb. We finally popped out of the trees and we were there. With all that climbing we still had to get to the top of the tower. Up we went.

We got to the top of the tower and the 2 hikers we passed on the way in were lounging in the sun. Enjoying the summit. A couple other hikers had just bushwhacked off the summit as we arrived. Whitney said congratulations and the other two hikers did the same, took our photo. Whitney surprised me with a small bottle of champagne and her 48 finish sign our friend Denise had made her.

We got to chatting with the hikers up there for probably a good hour. Mike and Kim were both from Mass and were just up there for the day. They were great people to have a conversation with and we enjoyed their company. All 4 of us were pretty amazed that we pretty much had one of the most popular summits in the Whites all to ourselves. On a day with max visibility!

All in all, it was a very last minute choice to finish that day. I am however, incredibly glad that I did it. I feel very accomplished in finishing the list. As I stated in the first part of this blog though, I will not be going back to lists anytime soon. I enjoy getting out and hiking with all the hype to it, or the judgments. I have my very few hiking buddies I enjoy hiking with and I am more than happy to help them accomplish their lists more than I'd want to have another one on my own.

Through this journey I have met such great people, on and off the trails. I am grateful for all those I have met and have had the pleasure of having a conversation with, and I am most appreciative of those who helped me knock of those few peaks that you may have already done and sacrificed something of your own to help me get here.

What have you learned from hiking the 4k's?
I've learned to hike your own hike, be who you want to be, and breathe in the fresh air that surrounds you and exhale the poisons that haunt you. After that is done- Keep on trekking!

 
Above: Whitney and I on our first hike of the Cat's and Carter Dome
Below: Whitney and I on my 48th Mount Carrigain

5 comments:

  1. First off. Congrats. Very well thought post, that mirrored my own thoughts when completing the list. I as well stop with the list. Although I'm listing the 14ers in CO, although at a casual pace. Have fun on your future adventures. Wherever they may lead you.

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  2. First off. Congrats. Very well thought post, that mirrored my own thoughts when completing the list. I as well stop with the list. Although I'm listing the 14ers in CO, although at a casual pace. Have fun on your future adventures. Wherever they may lead you.

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  3. Great post - I feel as well there are a lot of judgmental people out there and I agree- hike your own hike. A lot of facebook pages seem to have a lot of "experts" these days and an innocent post about a hike swirls down the gutter all too often with what they "should " have done and how they should be doing it.... Congrats on the 48, but as you stated, the goal is to get out and enjoy the hike ! - Wendy7

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  4. Excellent post. Enjoy the great accomplishment for you. You are the only one who matters. And I agree. Finishing the 48 has become a job. I just want to be done so I can enjoy hiking and not worry about lists and rules. That is what I love about section hiking the AT. You just hike your own hike. And for the experts, they can go you know where. Hike your own hike and just be happy.

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  5. Thank you for all the kind words! :)

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