- Elevation: 4,315 Feet (Mount Osceola) 4,156 (East Peak)
- Location: Lincoln, NH
- Date Hiked: October 22, 2017
- Companions: Stud
- Trails: Mt Osceola Trail
Stud and I make a spontaneous decision to turn off of 93 and head up Tripoli Road, a long and winding dirt road that neither of us are familiar with. It will be closed for the winter and it feels exciting and unknown. The foliage is blowing our minds and we spot all these stealthy campsites along the road with cute little fire rings tucked into the woods by streams.
We are ultimately headed to a tiny cabin in Lincoln for a couple nights with the intention to hike some 4,000 footers for a few days. But we’ve been busy and we haven’t had time to plan or look at the maps before now. All that was certain was the cabin reservation that Stud made for us. The day is young and we are dressed for hiking and our packs are full and ready to go with water, snacks and the essentials. As we cross from Massachusetts into New Hampshire we start tossing the question back and forth about what we want to do first. Stud pours over the maps in the passenger seat and we talk through our options deciding to hike the Osceolas. There are 2 approaches. We decide at the last minute to hike in from Thornton Gap which is suddenly our next exit. The tiny dirt lot is full and cars have started to park on the side of the road and we do the same. Its a beautiful mild fall Sunday in the whites and this is a fairly moderate hike and there are lots of people out but we manage to not get caught up in a big leap frog situation. The trail is well maintained and full of switchbacks which seem like a rarity in the northeast. I love a switchback and am always delighted when they appear. We climb steadily popping out on Mount Osceola within two hours. The summit is packed so we don’t stop. We snap a quick pick and keep moving. The trail heads down from here over to the summit of Mount Osceola’s East Peak.We reach a fork and it looks to us to be a little rocky outcropping off to the side of the trail so we plop down and dig into our snacks thinking we are well enough out of the way. We don’t realize that we are sitting on top of a section of the trail between the two summits known as the “Chimney”. And there are 2 ways up or down the Chimney: the steep way and the steeper way. Just as we are getting comfortable and shoving food in our mouths, a couple hikers are coming up this steeper side of the chimney which happens to be just below us. Its sort of around a bend which is why we didn’t notice and the hikers rising up catch me off guard. We cut our break short and move out of the way and decide to just keep moving. We start our decent down the chimney. There is a mom and her 2 young boys ahead of us and one of them is pretty nervous, hesitating for a long time before climbing down. The mom gets nervous about us and keeps apologizing to Stud and I who are stuck behind this little guy while she tries to coax him down. We don’t mind and I feel for the kid.
We climb down slowly finding the foot and hand holds and taking our time with it. Once at the base its a leisurely stroll to the other summit and we arrive at Mount Osceola’s East Peak maybe an hour after having left the first summit. The summit is in the trees and marked by a cairn and there is a really funny pair of women lingering. We sit and eat and take in the scenery. The funny pair move along and yet again we are blessed with a summit to ourselves. We enjoy our quiet afternoon up here. I have come to really love a summit in the trees. I love the way the scraggly mountain firs fragment the sky letting in streams of light.
Now we have to go back the way we came and we catch up with the funny pair of women climbing up the Chimney. Its looks wicked steep from below. We decide to go up the “steeper” way just for kicks. Stud goes first and as I climb up behind her she acknowledges this one tricky step which I then name the “Step Of Truth” and we think this is hilarious.
I hereby dub this the “Step Of Truth”
Just as I make my way to the top of the Chimney and am able to lift my gaze up again, I spot this perfect little toadstool under the mossy underside of the rocky trail.
We pass some hikers who ask about the Chimney ahead and I really want to make some kind of comment about the “Step Of Truth” but I can’t figure out how to do it without being obnoxious but we joke about it after. Once back at Mount Osceola’s summit we sit for a long time enjoying he views and enduring the little crowd of fellow city slickers and dogs. We start to feel uneasy about some hikers getting too close to the edge so we make our way down to the car. We feel great and its not very late so we head to our cabin and take hot showers flip on the TV and get lost in a marathon of American Ninja Warrior and become immediately attached to who we want to win. We head into Lincoln for dinner at the Gypsy Cafe where I have the most aesthetically pleasing cup of tea ever. Back at our tiny cabin we get sucked back into American Ninja Warrior until our eye lids get heavy. We each have our own little tiny room connected by a screened-in porch that hangs right over the Pemigewasset River which lulls us to sleep.