Hi folks! Apologies for being quiet lately. I've been limiting my time on social media for a few reasons but I wanted to share my recent local adventure, and see how you all are doing.
Recently I hiked Mt Chocorua, a 3,490 foot peak in New Hampshire. I grew up seeing its rocky top peeking through a gap in the hills near the house, sending a siren's call to my adventurous soul. I've hiked it multiple times over the years so I knew it would be a rugged and strenuous hike/scramble...the perfect place to take things up a notch with my "foot testing."
Its always nice to stop for a photo of Chocorua across the lake first:
In all I hiked and scrambled about 10 miles with 2800 feet in elevation gain. The oppressive humidity had disappeared, giving me clear skies and a cool dry breeze. This was the first big hike I have done since the Exercise Induced Asthma diagnosis and I am still in awe at the immediate difference the inhaler has made! My right ankle and foot did very well. I didn't know back in October if I would hike again so I am very happy to have the occasional discomfort as opposed to no hiking at all!
In this part of the country, colored blazes and cairns (rock piles) mark trails. These are the places where strategic, managed rock piling is appropriate as they keep hikers safe from falling off cliffs and getting lost on the mountain.
I hiked for a few hours, exchanging smiles and hellos to the occasional fellow hikers. I found a nice little ledge just off the trail where I sat for lunch amid the blueberries, my socks and shirt hanging in the sun to dry out a bit before I continued on. I often have to make myself eat when I'm hiking. If I'm not deliberate about it, I tend to plod along for hours without experiencing hunger signals which means I can forget to refuel until I suddenly need it. I like to avoid that sudden need!
A go-to hiking lunch for me is peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which keeps well in the pack and gives me lots of energy. I eat beef jerky along the way as its easy to get to without taking my pack off. I brought plenty of water with me, and since it was a day hike I had the luxury of a thermos full of ice for nice cold water.
When people from away hike my local mountains, they are often shocked by the roughness of the trails - tree roots are everywhere and they are brutal for tripping you up if you don't watch your step! Chocorua is a notoriously steep climb, with lots of ledge and rockfalls to climb.
I tend to avoid popular hikes on the weekends, but Chocorua wasn't packed. While I love a completely solo hike, I also love the spirit of the hiking community. I've been hiking since I was a kid, and have been in tune with the trail spirit for a long time. People on the trail share an often unspoken camaraderie - we are brought to the trail for a variety or reasons, but we are all doing it. Digging deep, facing our challenges, thinking our thoughts, connecting with nature etc. I wasn't in a hurry on this hike and enjoyed some conversations with a few different people (and dogs) along the way, and a great chat with a couple at the summit who also love Scotland.
On my descent I tried a section of trail I hadn't done before and found a cabin built in 1932 and chained to the mountain. Its foundations were set in 1891 and were originally part of a small mountainside hotel that was destroyed by a wind storm in 1915. Now the cabin is basically a bothy. The purpose of the chains is to keep the roof from blowing off in storms. The last image is a postcard of the original hotel, what a spot!
It was a great day out, enjoying the quiet solitude of nature, and challenging myself in preparation for my next big goal. I will be hiking Katahdin in September, the Northern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail. It will be the most challenging climb I've ever done, aside perhaps from Mt Washington which I have summited twice, (the last time via Tuckerman's Ravine). You can see Mt Washington behind me in my selfie. I'm delighted with the progress my foot/ankle has made, and now that I have an inhaler and can breathe while I hike, the difference is just amazing.
I took my time on this hike, and was soooo ready to change into my Crocs by the time I stumbled wearily into the parking lot. I had to get a photo of my tattoo with the sign that inspired it, would have been funny if someone had come along when I was contorted to get this photo!
I don't generally do gear reviews but there were a few things that served me well on this hike. If you scroll down past a few more photos of the hike, you'll find my list.
Gear list (no affiliation just a happy customer.)
1. KEEN Pyrenees hiking boots. I have been holding off on saying much about them as I hadn't had a chance to test them on rugged terrain yet. They did not disappoint. They have been very comfortable (I specifically got them for the wide toe box), and their grip on the steep ledges is really impressive.
2. Darn Tough Vermont Socks, pictured with my Keens. These are tough wool socks and their designs are the icing on top.
3. L.L.Bean Anti Shock Hiking Poles. I don't leave home without poles, they take a lot of stress off the body especially the knees when descending. In the past I grabbed the cheapest poles I could find which still helped a lot. But my aunt works at LL Bean and got me these poles at a discount from the factory store so I unexpectedly had a high quality pair of poles. The cork grips don't get slippery which is nice. And the defining feature for me is the spring loaded tips. They push in a little bit when they hit the ground, which softens the impact up into your wrists and arms. I especially notice this when I'm going down through rock fields and am using my poles to take some of my weight off my knees on the hop down.
4. ExOfficio bikini bottoms. Most of us get sweaty while hiking, and if your inner layers don't dry, you can find yourself up on a summit with wet clothes next to your body. This can cause you to get a chilled - a potentially dangerous situation. On this hike I tried Ex Officio for the first time, and will be getting another pair. Ladies looking for a pair of underwear with good coverage to stay put, wicking and light weight, and no uncomfortable seams, I highly recommend the investment.
Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you're having a wonderful week!