Sunday, August 29, 2010

Peak Bagging & Bagging a Peak

Peakbagger (n): A mountain climber whose principal goal is the attainment of a summit, or a specific set of summits.

Bag: Slang, To fail to attend purposely; skip

The day started at 3:30 a.m. I was meeting my hiking partner at 4:45 (which we decided was the earliest hour that was decent) for the 2.5 or so hour drive from Boston's south shore to the White Mountains.

I had set my things out the night before so all I had to do was dress, have coffee, eat First Breakfast and go. First Breakfast was 2 blueberry waffles with almond butter and smooshed banana on them. And coffee. (Second breakfast eaten in bits on the trail was an english muffin with butter, almond butter and banana. Lunch, again eaten in phases was roast beef and cheese on ciabatta bread. Snacks, not really eaten, were chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chips & almonds. Emergency food, not eaten, were a few ProBars.)

My stuff consisted of: Keen Voyager Hiking Shoes with Superfeet Insoles which have solved my aching foot problems. Smart Wool socks and sock liners. My pack which has water, toiletry bag (TP, contact solutions, band aids, emergency blanket, chap stick, etc), windbreaker/rain coat, food (lunch & snacks), map, and Blizzard (the dog). Then the flowered bag has my wallet, phone, extra clothes to drive home in, the hiking book and other random stuff that I need but that doesn't come up the mountain with me. My Leki hiking poles live in the car.

The Plan: North and South Kinsman, via Mt. Kinsman Trail and Kinsman Ridge Trail.

We were at the trailhead a little before 8, and on the trail by 8:07. It's a gorgeous trail, woodsy and damp and covered in moss. There are 3 or 4 pretty brook crossings.

My hiking buddy and I have very different speeds on the way up, which seems to work. I hike with the attitude of "this moment is all that matters" and wanting to absorb and study everything around me. Like this mushroom that looked like a jelly fish.
Or this bear scat.
Often she'll be quite far ahead of me on the trail, but eventually we meet back up. We are each hiking our own hike, and I know there are people more my speed to hike with if I want that, and there are people more her speed if she wants that. But this seems to work. And, to paraphrase Robert Frost, people hike together, whether they hike together or apart.

On this hike especially I was feeling like I didn't want to "get" anywhere, I just wanted to be where I was, fully. I wanted to look at the trees and think about why some trees had fallen over taking their root bed with them, and why others had snapped over about 4 feet from the ground. I wanted to photograph every mushroom and write about it. And then sit by a brook and think about it.

This was probably my 5th time on Kinsman, a mountain I just love, and I just wanted to hang out with it.

We took the .2 mile spur trail to Bald Peak, where I was last Sunday morning at 7:30am the continued on.

At some point near the ridge trail I decided I didn't want to go to the summits. I'd been to them before, and really just wanted to sit by the pond. I suggested to Stacey that she go bag the peaks and I'd meet her back at the pond. We sat for a while at the junction and ate, finally seeing a lot of other hikers - day and thru - and grateful that our journey up had been mostly free of other people.

After eating I felt livelier so we hiked the .4 miles to the summit of North Kinsman. We didn't find the actual summit which is a boulder on the side of the path but we found the ledge that was past the summit for the obligatory summit photo.

And the obligatory Franconia Ridge Trail photo, with Lafayette, Lincoln and Little Haystack across the notch. We climbed those a few weeks ago, and seeing those peaks from a distance really hits home what a trek that was. This is one of my most favorite views in all the world.

We started off towards South Kinsman, a mere .9 miles away. Yeah, mere. Somehow there was a resurgence of black flies, and .9 miles is not really that close and I was done going up and so we decided to bag the second peak. I have no need to summit for the sake of summiting and with that we turned around and headed backs towards the cross roads you can see in the map near the Kinsman Pond Shelter.

Here, back in the bug-free shade we ate some more lunch, met a lot of dogs (including 12 year old Gidge waiting for a snack), wondered about people who hike with no map or with a case of beer , chatted with other hikers about our plans and then headed over to check out the shelter area.

There are some tent platforms, which I slept on years ago, and a shelter that was rebuilt in 2007, bigger and brighter than the one we slept in years ago (after we realized that our tent wasn't really waterproof). Blizzard is reading the shelter journal where thru-hikers leave messages, notes and poems. There was also a book about how they built the shelter - bringing in all the logs by helicopter.

The shelter sleeps 14 on 2 levels and has a bear-box for food and toiletries and a composting toilet near by.

Then we reached the pond, which is just past the shelter. And there we sat. There was a little family near us with the kids happily splashing and asking their mom "what was the outhouse like?" There were lily pads and dragonflies and the general wonderment of being at a lake that you can't see unless you climb up a mountain.
After our time of leisure we headed down, and made good time - about 2.5 hours. We figured our total mileage to be about 9 miles with our different side trails and wanderings and our total hike time to be about 7 hours. Our total trip time was 8 hours 8:07am to 4:07 pm (yes, really.)
Some homemade hummus made the trip home easier and my Superfeet made it so that this morning I woke up with no foot pain. Just to be on the safe side, I put them in a pair of my Keen walking shoes and wore them most of the day. They are like an orthotic or something, keeping my feet from falling inward.

Post hike dinner was just a few vegetable potstickers from Trader Joe's and then 10 glorious hours of sleep. Breakfast was kale, leeks and mushrooms with some eggs.

Also, my legs don't hurt today. They aren't even stiff. It's very nice. I did however, take a nap this afternoon. Which was also very nice.

Now to plan the next trail...


Karl said...

Hello Leanna,

Thanks for reading my blog. I'm really surprised I haven't come across your blog before. Great pictures and posts.

I just read your Franconia Ridge report from a couple weeks back. I found it interesting. Jill and I are climbing that on Friday...I'm guessing it will be busy then, as well.

I wanted to ask if I can list your blog on my site, under blogs I read. I always like to ask first.

Thanks again for pointing me to it!


laine said...

Hi Karl,
I found your blog through Twitter, through the various hiking folks I follow.
Of course you can list my blog on yours, and when I get around to posting my blog roll I'll do the same for yours.

I'm always glad to find other New Hampshire hiking blogs to read, since I can find new hikes that way.