I had finished my 48 in grand style before my deadline. What else was there to do? A better question is where else is there to go? And I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the winter season to continue the same journey over snow and ice. Until December, I would have to work on my next set, the 19 peaks left for the New England 67. I had no set plan for completing these, I figured if I got them done by the time I was 50, I’d be happy. I thought this knowing that once I got started, they’d go pretty quick and 50 would just give me plenty of time so I would not have to rush.
Veteran’s day weekend, was a 3 day weekend for me and I was hoping to get at least one NE67 peak in as well as a trip to the Whites. I had been craving a good hike in the Presidential for a while and with some fresh snow that had fallen, winter fever had officially begun for me. I wanted to play in the snow so, we trekked off to try and get Pierce and Jackson. They’d count for my hiking partner’s 48 and for my November grid if we made it. Which we did not. We hiked to the Mizpah Hut and played with the Gray Jays for a while and headed for home. Dealing with some stiff muscles in my legs was never any fun and my hiking partner being less prepared for the cold made it worse. I was left disappointed and searching my mind for a way to hike solo for the rest of my journey. I had finally grown tired of the complaints and the comments about hiking for a purpose as opposed to just hiking. I was tired of being brought to tears again and again. And yet there would be more hikes. We chose to hike Killington Peak on our extra day off.
The contrast of the mountains that I love in New Hampshire and the mountains of Vermont were glaring to me. Killington Peak was the very top of the ski resort peak and even though we were in 6 plus inches of snow the day before yesterday, there was no snow over here. Microspikes, heavy winter clothing, and snowshoes were not needed. The pack suddenly got a lot lighter where my heart was still very heavy from the previous hike. We set out on the very flat Bucklin Trail looking to connect with the Longtrail to the summit. I really enjoyed this and quietly, I walked and smiled, looking at all the green surrounding me. This was in stark contrast to Saturday in 6 inches of snow (however fun that was). I had begun to strip off layers in the warmth of the day as we silently made our way down the trail. Each of us commented on how easy it was and how nice it was. We could not get over the differences between New Hampshire and Vermont. I was liking this leg of the journey already.
Not too surprising, the trail did not stay flat for long. Soon we were huffing and puffing; or rather I was huffing and puffing up the Long Trail. I lagged behind on the steeper section and it never ceased to amaze me how bad I felt to watch someone have to wait for me to catch up. And then to have that person just take off before my breath was caught seemed pointless to me. The good thing was that the mood was a lot lighter today than it had been. I was however leery of the change. We kept walking and came across a pretty serious blow down which could not be moved or cut to move. Only thing left was to climb over it. We continued to walk and eventually found ourselves on the Appalachian Trail and suddenly greeted by a man in ski boots who was apparently skiing the mountain as it had opened a few trails due to the recent cold weather. We also checked out a cabin that served as a shelter in bad weather. It seemed to be very rustic and was unfortunately colorfully tagged from top to bottom on the inside with all kinds of graffiti.
We continued on in the warm afternoon sun and I had noted how the trail had not shifted too much in terrain. This seemed to be a nice even mountain and the elevation gain was not as obvious again. We made our final push to the rocky summit and fire tower. It was a beautiful open rocky trail to the summit and I smiled all the way up the vertical climb. Once on the summit, we settled in for pictures and view admiration. This was a new view looking towards the Adirondacks in New York. I was very peaceful at least until the tourists arrived in their fashion boots and crisp white coats looking as though they were freezing. We tried to keep to ourselves but they were every where. My partner had struck up a conversation with the group and I soon was tossed right in the middle as he told them how I had climbed the 48 peaks in New Hampshire in less than a year.
I was proud of my accomplishment and took over telling the story and giving some interesting highlights from trips past. I also added in my winter plans which always seemed to astound people and then add what I was doing sitting on this mountain today. Number 49 was a mellow climb on a great day to kick off my bid for the New England 67.