Birthday Hike up Mt. Cabot

As part of our MLK weekend away in Jackson NH, we hiked up Mt Cabot on my birthday! Mt. Cabot is the 4000 footer that is farthest north, so having the opportunity to start the drive a couple hours closer was a huge reason to do that one. The hike itself is a gradual easier hike; the hardest thing about hiking Cabot is getting there.

We wore snowshoes for the entire hike, all 9 miles of it. The trail was so nice and tracked out, it would have been a shame to ruin it with post holes. The trail begins at the trout hatchery in Berlin on York Pond Road, which was nicely maintained for this time of year. You start out on the York Pond Trail, and then turn onto the Bunnell Notch Trail, and then finally the Kilkenny Ridge Trail to the summit. In the interest of time, we did an in and out hike, you can do a loop from the summit down over the bulge and horn from the Kilkenny Ridge Trail to the Unknown Pond Trail, but its a longer hike.

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Mountain Views
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Another gorgeous view!

Some features as you get up near the summit include an outlook with a beautiful view, a cabin, a false summit where a fire tower used to be, and then finally the wooded summit which is past a Mt. Cabot sign which again looks like the summit. The fire warden cabin is available for public use. It’s free, first come first serve, and it sleeps 8. There used to be a wood stove in it that has been removed, and there is a picnic table inside. They keep a drum outside that collects rainwater in the summer. It’s a very primitive cabin that I believe is still maintained by the Jefferson boy scouts. Not a bad place to have a snack away from the wind, but I would only stay in there overnight if it was an emergency! The first firetower was built up there in 1911, it was rebuilt in 1924, and then taken down in 1965. It was a cold hike, the wind chill was down between -9 and -18. The sun was out though, and I had my warmest gear, so we made a great day out of it. On the way up to Jackson we actually stopped at IME in North Conway and I purchased some Black Diamond mercury mitts for myself and honestly, it made my hike so much more pleasant. They were $109.95 and worth every cent.

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The Cabot Cabin
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Had to take a pic of this fat little gray jay that followed us from the cabin to the summit!

Mt. Cabot was my 14th winter peak, and it really is one of my favorite mountains. It was a great way to spend my birthday. On the way back to the Eagle Mountain House we grabbed sandwiches at my favorite deli, J-Town. Then that night we did dinner at The Red Fox and drinks at Wildcat Tavern. All my favorites 🙂

Other posts from our MLK weekend trip up to Jackson:

Winter Weekend at The Eagle Mountain House, Jackson NH

Mountain Town Charm- Jackson, NH

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A New Hampshire New Year’s Weekend

I am back to work today feeling refreshed after a week off. I would like to think that my students also feel refreshed and ready to learn annnnnd so I am going to continue to think that haha! I absolutely loved my New Year’s weekend this year. My husband got out of work early on Friday and we headed up to Gunstock Mountain for some night skiing. We had just gotten all that snow on Thursday so the conditions were great! Some areas were a little icy/bumpy because the snow gets pushed into piles in steep parts, but my skis are pretty new still, nice and sharp!

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Lake Winnipesaukee view from summit of Gunstock!
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View from the summit, we got one summit run in before the lift closed at 4!
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View from the Pistol lift, the light made it all look strangely purple

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View of the Stockade and the night skiing trails all lit up!

Saturday night we went to a friend’s house for a get together that included multiple bonfires, fireworks (because those are legal in NH, whaaaaaa?), and snowmobiling! It was such a fun night. We were all together in the living room for the ball dropping and champagne toasts.

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Welp, I don’t have any resolutions. Trying to eat better and exercise, be kind to the people I love….those aren’t resolutions, they are things that I try to think about all day every day. I am doing my first dressage clinic/lesson this coming Saturday with the trainer who worked with the horse I ride when his owner first brought him here from Ohio. I am so looking forward to it, Draki and me have been working hard and have really made progress since I started riding him in the fall. Its been quite a year- I got married, bought a house and moved to NH, and started a new job. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store!

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Black Friday Mt. Tecumseh Hike

A tradition that my husband and I started a couple years back was going hiking on Black Friday after Thanksgiving instead of going shopping. Last year REI even did a campaign for heading outdoors on Black Friday called #optoutside. They gave all of their employees a paid day off and the stores closed to all them to go out and enjoy nature with families and friends instead of in crazy lines at stores.

Sadly this year Jon had to work, but Mizpah and I hit the trails and did a little girls hike. This was my third time doing Mt. Tecumseh. It is a great 4000 footer because its so short, just took me three hours. We had to be back in the afternoon to go out with Jon’s family that night so I had to pick a quick mountain!

Usually the views from Mt. Tecumseh are lovely. Here are the views from an outlook over one of the Waterville Valley Ski trails and a view from the summit. These pics are from September 2015.

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View from outlook on Mt. Tecumseh trail, not sure which trail this is at Waterville Valley?
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View from the summit. The summit for this one is small, just a cairn up there and some views!

The weather on Friday was drastically different. Driving up, it was rainy and sleety, and just past exit 19 on 93 there was snow on the ground and trees. The hike was literally in a foggy cloud the whole way. It wasn’t raining or snowing but my jacket and pack were soaked just because the air was soggy and wet. The snow on the trails was beautiful. It was definitely fresh because literally only one person had been on the trails that morning on the snow. There were no views, it’s just white. Honestly it was almost a little disorienting.

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No views at the outlook on the ski trail, huge difference huh?
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Snowy white summit!

I wore my waterproof Marmot pants which are dead now….I put another hole in them slipping down a snow covered rock. My Marmot shell jacket is still awesomely waterproof and my pack held up with the moisture. Mizpah had her Ruffwear jacket on too which was good and kept her dry and warm!

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Its a winter wonderland in the White Mountains!
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One of the best hiking dogs you will ever meet ❤

Noone would say the conditions were optimal, but it was still a nice hike. I bare-booted the whole way up, and then threw my microspikes on for the trek down so I could go a little faster. The only thing I purchased during the holiday sales was actually a pair of Tory Burch boots. They were on sale from almost $500 to $208! I have been needing a new pair of black boots and I think these will fit the bill nicely 🙂 I know I am a little late, but I do hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family! Anyone snag anything good during the sales??

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North Country ATV Adventure

This weekend we headed up to the Great North Woods of NH to a friend’s family camp for some ATV fun and beautiful foliage. We boarded the pup so that she could have fun and socialize with other pups while we played out on the ATVs. We got up there on Friday night and headed on the ATVs Saturday morning. Up in North Country NH, there is an awesome trail network for ATVs called Ride the Wilds established in 2013. There are 1000+ miles of trails connected, which include town roads and sections of highway when necessary to connect sections. Eleven different clubs within the region take care of the trail system with donations only- no tax dollars were spent on them.

Before 2013, the trail network wasn’t as connected and was really dependent on permission from private landowners. The signage along the trails was amazing and really helps keep people on the trails and off land that the landowners would like to keep private. There are restaurants, lodges, general stores, and campgrounds along the way. For this adventure I wore my LLBean fleece, Harding Lane mountain hat, buff to cover my face for the dust, jeans, my old Merrell boots, and my Fox mountain biking gloves.  It was definitely a day for functional clothing that you didn’t mind getting dusty/muddy!

Our first stop on our ATV adventure was the Blueberry Hill Inn & Cafe for breakfast. The food there is fabulous- our party got blueberry pancakes, grilled blueberry muffins, bacon, homemade corn beef hash, home fries, and endless cups of coffee. The blueberries for the pancakes & muffins come from blueberry fields right on the property and of course, the maple syrup was locally produced.

From there we headed up the Cree Notch Trails to a great lookout/picnic spot. Along the way we rode along a railroad, saw glimpses of the Connecticut River, & rode through a Christmas tree farm.

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Along the railroad trail was the most dust, but I liked it because it was cool to see the old school telephone poles still standing

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Feeling like a bandit through the dusty parts
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The Christmas tree farm!

The views from Cree Notch were amazing. The foliage was just breathtaking.

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My husband Jon and I rode on a Polaris Sportsman ATV. He drove the whole way out, and I drove part of the way home. Our friend was on a Kawasaki ATV, and then his parents, our amazing hosts, were in a Polaris side by side. They have had their camp up north for about 30 years and have really been there since the beginning for ATVing up there. img_7219

From there we headed to Bear Bait Mountain which also had some beautiful views. As the day progressed, the clouds rolled in and there were even a couple rain drops but thankfully nothing that disrupted our day. We saw a juvenile moose alongside the trail coming down from the notch view. It was early in the day for it to be out and about, and it didn’t move when we approached. Sadly the poor thing might be sick with something. We didn’t stick around too long in case mom was close by. It may have had some sort of tick borne disease like lyme. It was still a pretty cool encounter.

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After our amazing day of four wheeling, Jon did some fishing at the brook right near camp, and we had a campfire to warm up before dinner. He caught and released six beautiful brook trouts to hopefully grow and increase the healthy trout population.

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Beautiful brook trout, caught & released

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We had such an amazing day and made it home on Sunday in time to watch Tom Brady play with the Patriots for the first time this season. I am pretty sure this weekend is the peak foliage for northern NH, but southern NH still has a week or so. I am just loving all the fall colors, and secretly I am totally getting excited for snow and skiing in a few months hopefully!

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Mt. Isolation Hike

This past weekend we finally got some fall weather! My husband, Jon, and I celebrated the fantastic weather by heading up north to hike Mt. Isolation. This particular peak is just over 4000 feet at 4003 feet and is technically in the Presidential Range. I never considered it a part of the Presidential Range because it isn’t named after a president, but it is. Its also in the Dry River Wilderness, which means a couple things- any existing structures will be removed when maintenance is needed and not replaced, no bridges, some planks that are logs not lumber, signs aren’t painted, and not many blazes between signs. There was a shelter built on the trail that has been removed. There are some primitive camp sites up there though. Most people are not huge fans of the hike because it is very long, the river crossings can be treacherous, and the trail is usually muddy and gross. Right now, New Hampshire is in a drought though! So I guess the only good thing that can come from the drought is the pleasant trail I got to hike on?

We took the Rocky Branch Trail to the Isolation Trail to Davis Path up to the summit. That made a 14.5 mi, 9 hour trip. There is a shorter route in both time and mileage but it is harder up and down the Glen Boulder Trail. You gain elevation, lose it, and then gain it again. The crossings over the Rocky Branch were beautiful. Some foliage is starting to turn, mostly the leaves are green and yellow, very few red leaves.

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Rocky Branch. These crossings can be tough in the spring and winter depending on the amount of precip the mountains get!
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My pack and fleece are both from LLBean
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The peak just to the left of center is Mt. Monroe. That ravine you can see there is Oak’s Gulf. Mt. Washington is hidden in the cloud in the right center.
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Our boots are La Sportiva Pamirs. These are the boots I would grab if I had to take one pair of shoes for a zombie apocalypse. 
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In this pic you can kinda tell how windy it was, it was crazy up there.

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Mizpah stayed home for this hike because it was just soo long. Now I only have 4 peaks left to have hiked all 48 4000 footers in NH. I need to do the three Bonds and Owls Head. We want to do both of those hikes as overnights, so I probably won’t finish until next summer. It was cold up there, and the winds were gusting up to ~50 mph. The views were so worth is though. I was just a little bummed that Mt. Washington was in a cloud. From Mt. Isolation you can take trails over to Mt. Washington, Mt. Monroe, and to the Mizpah Spring Hut just below Mt. Pierce. I am looking forward to more fall hiking, bring on the leaf peepers!

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Carter Dome hike to finish the Carter’s!

A while back we hiked Middle & South Carter in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire but couldn’t do Carter Dome because my pup hurt her little paw pads. This past weekend we took a break from house stuff to finish the Carters. I now only have five mountains left to finish the 48 4000 footers in the Whites!! Woo! I have to hike the Bonds which is 3 peaks, Isolation, and Owls Head to finish up.

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Mizpah playing in the 19 Mile Brook
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The main building at the Carter Notch Hut
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Carter Pond…check out that cloud creeping up
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Another Carter Pond shot
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Looking down into the notch at the Carter Notch Hut. Those rocks down there look small, but they are the size of buildings!
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Looking out into the Wild River Wilderness from a view before the summit
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Mizpah ascending into the cloud

We went up 19 Mile Brook Trail to the Carter-Moriah Trail which has some steep parts to the summit. The Carter Notch Hut is off the Carter-Moriah Trail. This particular hut has different buildings for the bathroom, bunks, and dining area whereas a hut like the Mizpah Spring Hut has everything in just one building. The summit has the remnants of a tower which is cool even though it doesn’t have great views. We were in a cloud the day I hiked though so there were no views no matter what.

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We thought this was a geocache in the rocks of this cairn near the summit, but the note inside was actually a very sweet memorial tribute 🙂
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My trusty La Sportiva Pamirs….these are my zombie apocalypse footwear….yes we have discussed what footwear we would grab for a zombie apocalypse.
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Summit!
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In a cloud on the summit!
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Mizpah investigating one of the old anchors for the tower that is no longer up there

We took the Carter Dome Trail back down to the 19 Mile Brook Trail which is a little longer, but not as steep. I would MUCH rather go up something steep and come down something more gradual for my knees’s sake. It’s better for Mizpah’s joints too!!

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Yep, we handfeed Mizpah her food out on the trail. She never eats breakfast before we leave for a hike, so anytime we take a break, we offer her food to keep up her energy!
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Mizpah lounging trailside
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Love the scenery on the 19 Mile Brook Trail!

It was a really great hike to do after taking a little time off. We even ran into one of my favorite instagrammers out on the trail- @munjoyboy. He was coming down Carter-Moriah as we were heading up. He has AMAZING photos of many of my favorite places.

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Zealand Mountain Hike June 30th

We stayed at the Mt. Washington Hotel last week for a few days, and of course had to do a hike while we were there. The trailhead for Zealand is just 15 or so minutes from the Mt. Washington Hotel. Its a longer hike distance wise, but only took us 6:30 to do! The Zealand Falls Hut is on the way, and past it you can see the falls. The falls are beautiful. Zeacliff has beautiful views on the way to Zealand. Zealand’s summit doesn’t have views, it is tree covered.

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Beautiful scenery on the mostly flat first few miles
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The falls on the way up
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The view from Zeacliff
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Looking out over Carrigain and the Hancocks from Zeacliff. I did this same hike in November 2014 and this was all covered in snow!!
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The summit of Zealand
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More of the falls on the way down
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The Zealand Falls Hut
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One of the last little lady slippers of the season all by itself out on the trail

Interestingly, the Zealand Recreation Area you see off of 302 before the trailhead which is up the road a bit is where a small town used to be. Zealand was a town set up by J.E. Henry from Lincoln that had a boarding house, school, and a dozen homes. John Henry was into logging, and once they clearcut the entire wilderness in that area, they picked up and headed back to Lincoln leaving behind the town. The buildings all burned down between 1886 and the turn of the century, and the town faded into the past. There were many abandoned and now almost forgotten ‘company towns’ built for the logging industry in New Hampshire. Anyway, it was really cool leaving this hike and instead of just driving by the Mt. Washington Hotel, turning down the drive to our room!

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MDW Hike up Mt. Cabot

Well another Memorial Day weekend has come and gone. From what I have heard, Sunday was a miserable day in most of New England, but it was a beautiful day in northern New Hampshire on Mt. Cabot! Mt. Cabot is the farthest north of the 4000 footers up in Berlin NH. The trailhead is at one of the NH State Hatcheries, soooooo many trouts!!! We were already up at my inlaws’ house in NH, and from there it was still another 2.5 hours to drive. My sister, Brenda, came up to do this hike with me and my husband too! This was her 3rd 4000 footer, my 40th 4000 footer, and who knows what number it is for my husband haha, over 100?

So we went up Cabot via the Bunnel Notch Trail to the Kilkenny Ridge Trail. In total, the mileage was a little over 9 miles- took us about 6 hours. The trail was in great shape except for some mud which is normal for this time of year. It was a really warm day, many water breaks.  There are some nice features along the way- a spot with some beautiful views, an old fire warden’s cabin that you can stay in, and a clearing close to the summit that has the remnants of an old fire tower. Many people stop at the tower clearing thinking that they have made it to the summit…but really you have to continue on and you will get to another clearing with a sign that says Mt. Cabot-4120′, and that still isn’t the summit, you have to go a little further to the true summit at 4170′. Two false summits. We saw many people at the fire tower clearing that never continued on to the actual summit.

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Green lush scenery has returned to the White Mountains
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My sister and I love our LLBean Backpacks. Mine on the left is here and my sister’s on the right is here. My pack is smaller, more appropriate for a little day pack, and my sister’s is a little more appropriate for an overnight too.
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The girls at the view, Mizpah, me, and Brenda
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The views were a little hazy on Sunday, but still beautiful. Everything is so green again!!!
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The old fire warden cabin near the summit of Mt. Cabot. The only cabin I have seen in the 4000 footers higher elevation. There are shelters, and then the AMC huts, and cabins at lower elevations, but this is a unique fixture.
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False summit #2 haha, me and Jon
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Stopping at the view for a little break on the way down. Best hiking dog. Love her.

On the way home, we stopped at Mountain Fire Pizza in Gorham NH for some dinner and a beer. Jon and I split the maple and bacon pizza, it was amazing. My sister got a pizza with chicken and artichoke on it, it looked great too! If you like thin crust brick oven pizza, then this is the place for you. Gorham is an interesting town, way up in the mountains. We went to Gorham last year for 4th of July fireworks when we were camping at Dolly Cop. ATVs are street legal in the town. Think about that for a second, you can drive 4-wheelers anywhere…to McDonald’s, to get some pizza, to pick up a friend, whatever. Pretty cool place. More pics from Memorial Day on Lake Winnepesaukee tomorrow!!

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Trail Running Sneaks Review!

This entire week is gloomy and rainy here in Massachusetts so its a great time to dream about trail running and talk about my new trail running sneakers!! Dalmatians are very high energy dogs and they were bred to run alongside horse drawn carriages. They would run ahead and clear the crowds and then guard the goods when the men went inside. That’s why dalmatians are associated with firehouses and Budweiser, because firetrucks and the Budweiser trucks were originally horse drawn. What does that mean for someone who owns a dalmatian though? That means you are in the company of an animal that was bred to run miles and miles every day. Part of the reason why dalmatians got such a bad rep back when the dalmatian movies came out is because they are only good dogs with plenty of exercise. I once read that puppies can do 20k no problem. When we run on the trails, we do between 3-5 miles of hilly terrain…and she could totally do more. I love running with Mizpah in the woods, and I finally got my first pair of trail running sneakers about a month ago.

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I got my North Face Ultra 109 Goretex sneaks from REI. We are members of the REI coop, so we had a $20 member dividend from when I bought my crampons last year, and a 20% coupon back on the member rewards weekend. The sneakers are $120, but I think I ended up paying $76. Great deal! They are not the best looking sneaker, gray and blue are a little boring, but they have great stability so I can run on rocks and roots without rolling my ankles, and they are goretex which means I am a little more protected in mud and puddles on the trail. I also got some new socks from LLBean for trail running because I wanted socks that weren’t so low cut.

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Now, why get trail running sneakers? Can’t I just run on the trails with my normal running sneakers!?

You can! I did for years. I have noticed some huge improvements since I finally got some trail specific shoes though.

  1. Running uphill- trails in MA are covered in dead leaves with roots and rocks underneath. Running uphill with my new sneaks which have awesome dirt biting treads is soooooo much easier. No more slipping back every step, or trying to navigate the trail to put my feet on non-slip ground.
  2. Stability- these particular sneakers are made for stability so that when you are running over roots and rocks, it doesn’t impact your footfall as much. I roll my ankle and trip way less now.
  3. Goretex- the first piece of clothing I owned with Goretex was my crew jacket and I have been in love ever since. My sneakers are able to go through mud and shallow puddles and my feet stay warm and dry.

A big rule that I have to follow with these sneakers is to only use the on the trails. Running on pavement in them would damage and wear down the amazing treads.

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Thats my little Mizpah coming back to me after checking out an unfinished/abandoned beaver lodge. It was sorta a scary moment watching her traipse around on logs, but she has an explorer’s spirit that can’t be harnessed. We couldn’t hike this past weekend because of the rain….and its been raining all week so who knows about this weekend. Anyone have any fun Kentucky Derby plans!?

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Dartmouth Outing Club & Mt. Moosilauke

I hope that you all had a good Thanksgiving and a great weekend!! I spent the weekend up in NH with my fiancé and his family. We celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday, and then his birthday on Saturday with an awesome hike to #optoutside on Friday in between.

I only have 7 hikes left to complete the NH 48 4000-footers…..but they are all pretty long. We wanted to be back, showered, and ready to go for dinner & drinks at Poor People’s Pub (good grub, cheap beer) Friday night, so we chose Mt. Moosilauke  for our hike. The trail we picked, the Gorge Brook Trail, had a book time of 5 hours. We did it in 4.5, but we had to add an hour because the gate to the access road was shut and locked so we had to walk another 1.5 miles in and out from the trail head. That happens in the fall/winter.

The Gorge Brook Trail, Al Merrill Loop, Ridge Trail, and Snapper Ski Trail all start near the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. The lodge and bunkhouses are owned by the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) from Dartmouth College in Hanover NH. The DOC is legendary in the White Mountains. Their love for outdoor activities, particularly winter sports has made the White Mountains what it is today, a region dotted with ski resorts, and home to cross country ski trails, snowshoeing trails, and backcountry skiing. Really  many of the first mountaineers in the Whites were from the DOC, some from Harvard too. These were the first mountaineers out west in many cases too. They were men that loved sport, competition, and endurance….and had the privilege and opportunity to travel and play in the mountains.

I have already hiked Mt. Moosilauke from a trail on the other side of the mountain, Glencliff, so this was my first time seeing the lodge. It’s really neat, bunkhouses named after different classes, a swimming hole for the class of 07, and the lodge itself is huge! They offer lodging to the public, students/alumni get a discount, and offer meals too. It’s also home to the trail crew, a group of students that maintain 17 cabins and ~50 miles of trails between the lodge and the campus in Hanover.

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Ivy league bunkhouses folks
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Walking up the main lodge, it’s huge!!
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Tried not to be too much a paparazzi, but I loved this bunkhouse. You can just barely see the screened in porch on the right with matching hunter green adirondack chairs
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The lawn of the lodge- I picture frisbee games, picnics, and stargazing out here

The hike itself was great, trail was not too rocky, lots of rock stairs, some ice towards the summit. The trails are very well marked by orange signs and very well taken care of. There are a couple re-routes which can be annoying, but are also signs of good trail stewardship. For this mountain, they have been moving the trails up and away from the riverside because of erosion and damage from hurricanes in the past.

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Mizpah is very attentive when we stop for a snack
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Selfie with Miz!

 

Dartmouth owns the Gorge Brook watershed, something like 4500 acres on Mt. Moosilauke and the surrounding area. It is named after C. Ross McKenney, an avid woodsman who oversaw the building of the main lodge in 1938. The lodge was saved after many years of disuse in the 50s by Al Merrill, the Director of Outdoor Programs and Ski Coach at the time.

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Memorial for Ross McKenney at the last sure water stop 

The summit of Moosilauke is above treeline. It can be extremely windy up there because its the furthest west of the 4000 footers and catches undeterred wind all the way from Vermont. There is a stone foundation up on the summit, the remains of an old hotel up there in 1860. It was first called the Prospect House, later called the Tip Top House. The Carriage Road Trail was originally used to reach the hotel. It was lovingly run by Dartmouth students from 1920 until it burned down in 1942. The hotel on Mt. Washington was also called the Tip Top House. I just couldn’t get a pic of it on this hike, the wind was gusting to ~50 mph. It was tough to stand up and walk at times.

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Freezing in the wind on the summit, couldn’t take too many pics
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Muddy paws and ears flapping in the wind

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I absolutely love the history in the White Mountains. All the old hotels, mountain huts & shelters from a time when the train was the only way to get up there. To see what it looked like up there in its hey day. Not all of it was good of course, the White Mountain National Forest was almost leveled for lumber and to create farmland. I definitely prefer it with the trees, but the glimpses of the past are much appreciated.

I would like to explore the lodge more when its open. They open in May and close November 1st. Don’t worry, my fiancé is doing the grid for the 48, so he has done Moosilauke in 3 months so far, 9 more to go!

What did you do to #optoutside on Friday? Have I inspired anyone to come to NH and see the Ivy League accommodations at the ravine lodge? Please say yes! 🙂

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