Finishing the NH48 with the Wildcats, the Carters, and Mount Moriah

Yesterday, Stud and I officially completed hiking the NH48 which stands for New Hampshire’s Forty-Eight 4,000 footers.  A 4,000 footer being a mountain that has an elevation of at least 4,000 feet and a minimum of 200 feet prominence.  I’ve kept track of our adventures here.

Part 1: The Wildcats

We drove up to Pinkham Notch Sunday morning and the notch was crawling with visitors.  We got the last parking spot at the 10 Mile Brook Trailhead parking lot.  The air was crisp and sharp and we quickly put on all our layers and gathered our packs preparing for 2 days of hiking and a night at Carter Notch Hut during self-service season.

We shyly put our thumbs out hoping for a quick and easy hitch down to the Wildcat Ridge Trailhead but the cars were all zooming by so fast and there wasn’t a great spot for them to stop so we started walking down the road.  We walked on the shoulder of route 16 with our thumbs out and eventually came upon a wider shoulder when a car slowed down and pulled over.  We jogged up to find this nice pair of young women smiling and welcoming us into their car as they quickly tossed all their hiking gear aside to make room for us in their back seat.  We thanked them profusely and they said they were on their way to Pinkham Notch from Quebec to go hike Mount Washington and were happy to drop us off just a bit past that.

We waved to them as they drove off and felt very pleased with ourselves and relieved to have been able to hitch so easily and to have been picked up by such nice fellow hiker folk.  We found the tunnel under the road that lead to the trail head and were met with an unexpected large river crossing to get to the trail.  It was cold, I was wearing pants and my legs felt wobbly as I balanced my way across the rocks trying my best to avoid getting wet.  We made it across and were on our way up the Wildcat Ridge Trail being greeted by steep rocks and instant views.img_3362img_4382img_3358img_4385

Before too long we found the summit of Wildcat D which is also a ski resort with some buildings we sat at a nearby picnic table eating our lunch, watching hikers go by and folks ride up and down the gondola enjoying the summit.  From here we had superb views of Mount Washington, Tuckerman’s Ravine, Huntington Ravine and the northern presidentials.  img_3366The sun and food revitalized us and we trekked on towards Wildcat Peaks B, C, and A which we hiked right over without noticing a cairn or a sign before finding a nice outcropping of rocks giving us our first views down into Carter Notch and we could see the lakes and the hut nestled down in the shadows as the sun began to dip below the mountains.  We took a short break here wondering if we had already submitted Wildcat A.  As the sun continued to set, so did we, feeling the temperatures drop and as we hiked on we discovered that we were descending quickly into the notch down the steep eastern slope of Wildcat Mountain which means that we had infact summitted all the Wildcats and would soon be at Carter Notch Hut where we would be spending the night.img_3374Looking back up at Wildcat from Carter Lake, it was wild to see the steep rocky pitch.img_4389

It turned out that there were only 9 hikers staying the night at Carter Notch so lucky us, we got our own room!  We settled in and then hiked back to the main lodge to make our dinner.  During self-service season, you bring your own food to cook in the huts and a sleeping bag.  Its pretty sweet cuz it costs about $100 less than full-service season, there’s way less people, and they still give you a bunk with a mat and a pillow and full use of the kitchen.  Win Win Win.img_4400img_4396We made our dinners and sat with some other hikers including an eclectic little group of straggling thru-hikers, meaning Appalachian Trail Hikers who are maybe not going to finish the trail this season but are making their way north and south and have been out on the trail for months.  We were stoked for them because they got their own rooms too.  The moon was huge and lit up the notch.  We wanted to go see it by the lake but we were so tired. So we watched it from the porch of our cabin until we were too cold and sleepy to stay standing.img_3381Stud and I were in our sleeping bags by 7:30pm and both asleep by 8.  I woke up around 5am and bundled up to go outside and relieve myself expecting Stud to be upright when I returned but when I got back, she was still cozy in her bunk so I happily got back in my sleeping bag and we waited for the other to initiate packing up to go but niether of us did and we just snoozed until almost 8am which was pretty awesome.

The hut caretaker’s hospitality was amazing.  She went above and beyond.  She baked some oat bars and offered them up to us all.  She offered us tea and hot chocolate.  In the morning, she made a pot of coffee to share.  So I gave my fancy instant coffee packs to a thru-hiker who gratefully accepted them along with some other snacks from my food bag that I was happy to pass along.  Stud and I labored down our oatmeal and finally set off.

Part 2: The Carters

It was 8:45am by the time we were hiking out of Carter Notch Hut and we just laughed about how late it was as we climbed up Carter Dome knowing we had plenty of time to do what we had set out to do and enjoyed the leisureliness of the day so far.  Carter Dome…what a beast!img_3383img_3385We followed the ridgeline up to Mount Hight which has to be one of the most amazing viewpoints in the White Mountains.  img_4410img_3390We spent some time up here soakin in the views, the sun and eating second breakfast after becoming ravenous from our climb up out of Carter Notch.  We headed north and the trail between Mount Hight and South Carter descended an unexpected very steep and fast 700 feet before climbing back up another 500 feet to the summit of South Carter where a cairn was sort of tipped over by a nieghboring uprooted fir  There was some nice rock seats so we relaxed here before pushing on to Middle Carter.img_3395Then things got weird….As we made our way up the ridge to Middle Carter, it dawned on us that we could just keep going instead of our original plan of turning around at Middle Carter and heading back the way we came and down and out Nineteen Mile Brook Trail, where our car was parked.  We got excited about this and counted up the miles and decided that turning our 10.5 mile day into a 14+ mile day was totally do-able.  But then we remembered how late it was and that there was limited day light and decided that was a bad idea.  But then we thought it would be a fun adventure and we would be fine because we have our headlamps.  But then we realized how tired we would be and that we wouldn’t have our car when we hiked out.  But then we thought we could just hitchhike back to the car.  But then we remembered it would be dark.  We processed the crap out of this spontaneous potential plot twist all the way to Middle Carter and when we found ourselves on the sign-less summit we sat down and ate and went over it again and again, getting high off little doses of adrenaline thinking about going forward towards Mount Moriah.  Just when we would decide it was a bad idea, we would then talk about doing it anyway.  We were sitting on number 47 of the 48 peaks of the NH48 list under blue skies clear.  It was hard to not just go for it and hike on to Mount Moriah.  But we hadn’t planned for this and it was late.  We decided to try and see if we could call for a shuttle in order to make a decision, knowing that trying to hitch down route 16 after dark on a Monday night might be impossible as would be a 5+ mile road walk down route 16 at that point.  But we didn’t have enough cell service to get the call through.   We talked it through a few more times (haha) and made a careful and very calculated decision to play it safe and stick with the plan which was a great choice because it meant we were off the mountains by 5PM, eating dinner at a reasonable hour and checking into the Top Notch Inn with enough energy left to shower and celebrate the eve before potentially finishing the NH48 and trying for Mount Moriah tomorrow.

Part 3: Mount Moriah – the finale!

We sat drinking coffee at 5:30am on this dark early fall morning preparing to attempt our final summit of the NH48.  Such a bittersweet feeling of both sadness that this list may be coming to an end and pure excitement to be finishing.

A dramatic day from the get-go.  This trailhead begins in a residential dead end and we weren’t sure where to park so we parked under some power lines hoping our car would still be there when we came back with all the windows still in tact.  We knew there would be some weather rolling in later and given that this was potentially our 48th summit on the NH48 list, we were hyper focused and rather intense as we headed up the Carter-Moriah Trail in the dark with headlamps lighting our way.  img_4422This trail does not waste anytime.  It just starts straight up and we huffed our way up until we reached a more moderate grade and could catch our breaths before finding our rhythm.  It wasn’t long before we were on a tree covered ridge and could start to see Pinkham Notch through the trees.  img_3393img_3407We made our way up to the rock slabs and ledges described in the guide book which afforded excellent views of the northern presidentials.  As the wind picked up and the temperatures dropped, I became concerned about my clothing choices and wondered if I had enough layers with me and wondered if I would regret the items I chose to leave in the car.  The trail dipped and climbed and we were high up on the ridge for a while pushing forward to stay warm while trying to beat the potential thunderstorms.  Every so often the trail would become sheltered from the wind and we took refuge in these wind breaks to refuel ourselves with water and food.

About an hour from the summit, the weather really began to change and we watched the views of the surrounding mountains slowly become clouded as we became socked in.  We were both nervous about it but we pushed on moving as quickly as we could while still being careful climbing up the steep rock slabs and making sure to add and take off layers as often as necessary to stay dry and warm.

We then came upon the summit sign for Mt Moriah with an arrow to the actual summit.  We looked at each other in disbelief before heading up.  img_4411As we came around the corner to the exposed large rock boulder summit of Moriah the wind was whipping fiercely and we paused and looked at each other again with a bit of terror.  We dropped our packs and our poles and braved forward finding the summit marker and embracing as we leaned into the wind.  We took some pictures and videos and exclaimed before ducking back into the safety of the trees and finding a very sheltered protected nook just below the summit to recover and eat and drink and laugh soak in this summit and prepare for a safe decent.img_3400img_4414Wimg_3404The sun was slightly visible through he stormy grey skies and it felt like it could be day or night.  Climbing down the rock slabs was scary and slow but not as sketchy as we anticipated and we were able to move down the mountain quickly stopping to rest more than half way down at some exposed rock slabs where the the presidentials came back into view.  img_4423As we snacked and rested our knees, Mount Madison went in and out of the clouds from across the valley and we watched as the clouds formed together and darkened over them.  img_3405Not a moment later, we felt the first few rain drops and quickly gathered our packs and continued down the mountain praying that the heavier rain wouldn’t come until we were off the rocks and safely under the shelter of the lower tree canopy.  We were lucky and we made it down safely and by the time the rain really picked up were were less than a mile from the car and not very wet at all.

Our car was intact where we left it and we drove south thru Pinkham Notch unable to fully absorb that we had just finished the list.  We stopped at Joe Dodge Lodge to change and rest and look around their little store.  We didn’t linger long because we were starting to tank so we headed to a diner for some celebratory pancakes and hot coffee which brought us back to life and we sat in the booth for a while looking at pictures, laughing and reminiscing of the last few days and the last few years of our adventures hiking the NH48 together.

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Best Laid Plans…

This week I’ve been reflecting on my long-term relationship with the NH48.  When I started hiking these mountains in 2009 I didn’t know anything about this list.  When I first heard about the list, I wasn’t interested.  I was apprehensive and cautious about getting caught up in the mentality of “peak-bagging”.  I didn’t want the magic of simply being out there to get thwarted by an arbitrary list.  I also worried about the way a list like this could affect my decision making in a risky way while hiking.  But I also couldn’t even fathom the idea because it seemed too lofty a goal.  48 mountains is a lot of mountains.  From Boston, the closest trail head is a 2 hour drive and the farthest is a 3.5 hour drive.  The hikes themselves range from 4 hours to 10 hours as an “out and back” with a long drive on either end, unless you turn some of them into multi-day backpacking trips or base camp nearby.  There is also the option of staying in high huts which are expensive and have a very strict cancellation policy and also involve dining and bunking in close quarters with a slew of strangers where you can almost guarantee there will be either some gear or trail or food or mile comparison happening at the table…or maybe some kind of mansplaining or competitive bro blabbering…or at least some posturing.

Hiking the NH48 is an investment of money and time.  Its also hard and dangerous.  The trails are old and steep and rocky and rooty and there is tons of exposure where weather can change on a dime.  There are signs in the alpine zone warning of death and advising you to turn back if the weather changes.  Many people are rescued every year and many people have died on these mountains from falls, avalanches, exposure, and other things.  And if this list of 48 mountains isn’t enough of a risky adventure for ya, you can also do all 48 mountains in the winter thus earning yourself a an even more elite badge.  Then you have the record setters, the ones who trail run them all setting the fastest times, the ones who do them all in a season, or all in 1 month, or the woman who did each and every mountain on the list every month for an entire calendar year.  That means she made 576 summits that year on some of the toughest terrain in the northeast in all weather and in all conditions.

Hiking the NH48 is a pure privilege on so many levels.  When I decided I wanted to set this list as a personal goal, I decided on a 5 year timeline which I knew would be more than enough time so not to rush through it or get too caught up in my head about it.  The White Mountains are a sacred place and my intention as I set out on each and every hike is to hike these trails with respect for the land, the beings, the ancestors and my able body.  This goal has encouraged me to not only hike more often but also to branch out and explore other areas of the Whites that I had never considered before.  Its a way to connect with other hikers who will often ask at a trail head what number is this for me in which I reply “I don’t know” because while, I do keep track on this blog, I honestly don’t keep track in my head that way.  I’ve hiked some of these mountains more than once and I’ve passed by some of these peaks without sumitting before I set the goal and then of course  returned later once I had a reason to summit.

My relationship with these mountains is more than a check box on a list.  I’m in a long term relationship with with the White Mountains and I’m very aware of how much more there is to explore beyond this list.  I do enjoy meeting hikers who have been chipping away at this list for over 20 years.  This past fall I was honored to be able to witness and clap for a hiker as he completed his 48th and final summit on Owls Head with his friend, both of whom were in their fifties and had been hiking these mountains together for years.

For me, having a solid hiking adventure companion is everything and that’s why I asked Stud to do this list with me.  Half the fun for us is the car ride.  It gives us time to catch up and process our lives.  I also trust Stud 100% to make sound decisions.  I don’t have to worry about trying convince Stud to turn around less than a quarter mile from a summit if something weird happens.  We are compatible in this way.  Our partners, family, and friends sometimes think we are these wild risk takers.  Maybe we are comparatively, but in the world of outdoor adventure, we play it pretty safe.

This past week we had big plans to traverse the presidential range which is a stretch of 20ish miles of exposed high peaks.  Its a long hard rocky scramble with long stretches of exposure and its also a breathtakingly beautiful ridge with wild flowers and views for days.  Its a place you definitely do not want to be in a fog or a storm or very high winds.  We were planning on hiking up to the Madison hut on a Monday, crossing the ridge on Tuesday, staying at Lake of The Clouds Hut on Tuesday night, and hiking down on Wednesday.  We were waiting to book the huts until the last possible moment.  We kept checking the hut website online to see if the green circle that symbolizes “availability” would turn to the yellow circles symbolizing “limited availability” and since it remained green, we figured we’d book the day before just in case the weather changed because once you book, you don’t get your money back if you don’t go no matter what the weather is doing.  And its a good thing we waited because the next thing we knew, the temperatures on the high peaks plummeted and a foot of snow was being predicted to dump.

We were in denial.  We had been planning this trip for months.  We were really treating ourselves to two hut stays on the high peaks in early June before school would get out thus avoiding the summer crowds.  We had cleared our schedules and set 3 days aside for this.  We were really excited and also we hadn’t scene each other in a while and had a lot of catching up to do!  We went over and over the plans trying to decipher if we could still do it and move things around and choose the “better” day.  We knew the trip was a bust.  I mean, maybe we could do it.  But why?  Why spend all the money and time trying to survive an icy freezing crossing with poor visibility on slick rocks with cliffs everywhere.  Just to check off a few more peaks on the NH48 list?  Nope.  Not worth it.

The same weather that brought this snow to the White Mountains in June also brought waves to the beaches of Massachusetts so we make a plan B to go surfing one day.  That morning my alarm goes off at 6 and I am about to put on my wet-suit when I discover I am sick…like sore throat and a head cold.  What?!  I text Stud and I’m in denial but I’m pretty sure I don’t even have the energy to lift my surfboard right now.  Part of me thinks the ocean is the perfect neti pot but a smarter part of me says submerging my body in very cold water when my immune system isn’t up to par is not a good idea.

A few days later and I think I’m mostly recovered from this passing spring head cold when bam it hits me harder and instead of heading down to Ptown for my annual work-cation at my friends house I find myself exhausted and unable to do anything and I’m suddenly sicker than I was before.  So I just lay low and drink gallons of home brewed ginger lemon tea while suffering over the shift in plans, the lost income, the missed adventure.  Three days later I am welcoming this invitation to rest my body and mind.  I’ve been going hard lately.  Some might say I’ve been burning the candle at both ends.  But this concept is a slippery slope because I can go straight to blaming myself and thinking I made myself sick and that I deserve to be sick and that it is like a punishment for living too fast.  But I like my fast full life.  I do a lot of things.  I admit it.  While I am grateful for the unexpected time for restoration,  I will not slow down just because some pollen got caught up in my nose and infected my sinuses.  I will keep laying the best plans ever but I do want to learn to work on my disappointment when things don’t go as planned and I do want to keep learning how to surrender to the uncontrollable and I do want to keep learning how to neutrally accept what is…AND I’m super excited for plans C, D, and E!  Coming soon:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reuniting and a fun event!

Next week I am flying out to Portland, Oregon to reunite with Bear Bait who I have not scene since we finished the Long Trail in September!  Bear Bait has created an amazing itinerary of fun adventures to take me on when I get out there including:

This event cosponsored by Unlikely Hikers and  The Venture Out Project!

We are going to share some pictures and stories about our thru-hike of The Long Trail, the oldest long distance trail in the country.  We will also talk about how we planned for our thru-hike and answer any questions that anyone might have.  If you are near Portland, Oregon I hope you will join us!

Mount Waumbek

Mount Waumbek

  • Elevation: 4,006 Feet
  • Location: Lancaster, NH
  • Date Hiked: 3/12/2017
  • Companions: 5e & Brenda
  • Trails: Starr King Trail

Nothing like going up a four thousand footer on a 0º winters day with a -30º windchill.  No seriously…there is nothing like it and I mean this in the most neutral way possible.

As I obsessed over my layering system, waiting for 5e and Brenda to pick me up in Lincoln where I had been staying in a tiny cabin for the weekend,  I seriously questioned the decision-making spot on my frontal lobe.  5e had proposed this hike way back in January inspired by daylight savings.  I enthusiastically agreed to join her despite my lack of winter hiking experience and my snow-shoe resistance.  She brought her best pal Brenda who had never hiked a 4000 footer before (never mind in winter).  Fortunately we were all on the same page as far as not being overly attached to summiting and keeping the communication lines open in order to stay safe.

The hike was described as being one of the more moderate of the NH48 for winter hiking and thats why 5e picked it out.  The trail was a 7.2 miles round trip out and back with a steady grade and nothing too steep or exposed.  There was a smaller peak called Mount Starr King along the way followed by a mile of ridge but the ridge was in the trees so we were protected from the wind.  The trail was snow and ice covered and totally packed down so we were able to just wear micro spikes without needing snow shoes.

Twenty minutes into the hike and we were sweating bullets stopping to shed layers and trying to stay dry.  Our body temperatures dropped as we gained elevation.  We steadily climbed for hours and I became aware of the places where I was getting cold and I wondered if I would be okay, if we would be okay, if I would know if I wasn’t okay and where my edge was.   As we ascended,  we checked in a lot and helped each other with zippers and laces and buckles and clips.  Gloves and freezing temps make everything more challenging.  I take my gloves on and off dozens of times when exerting myself outside in winter.   My hands get sweaty and I don’t want my gloves to get too wet or I need to get into a zippered pocket and then unwrap a snack.  Then my hands are cold and I put my gloves back on and so on.  We checked each other out from time to time assessing each other’s okayness.  Now 5e and Brenda have been pals for 20 years and know each other pretty well.  But since they don’t know me nor do I know them as well, the gauge of “are you okay” was less precise and had a steeper learning curve but the trust was there.  The thing about hiking a 4000 footer with others is that it creates instant intimacy.   You go from, “hi my name is__” to detailed accounts of whats going on with your body as you burp and rip farts and help each other in and out of your clothes and boots.

The higher we got the more snow was on the trail and caked all over the trees. Any pain or discomfort or cold spots I had went to the back burner once we popped out onto the ridge.  The blue sky creeped through making way for a breathtaking wonderland up there.    Once on that first summit called Starr King we put on more clothes, ate some snacks and then quickly moved along.  Stopping for even two minutes was enough to start rapidly cooling down.  The ridge was gorgeous.  We were in the trees but there were some clearings with some intense views.  The first summit, Starr King actually had more views than Mount Waumbek.  We passed some remains from an old fire cabin…ironically all that was left was the fireplace and I wished it had a fire in it.

Before we knew it we had summitted Waumbek exactly 3.5 hours later.  We were elated.  5e made a snow angel, we snapped some pics, ate more snacks, and I discovered some ice chunks that had formed on my eye lashes that were just impressive!

We cruised down the mountain half trotting and I even butt slid a few of the steeper snowier sections saving my knees.  My feet started to throb once we got to a lower elevation I laid down on the trail and elevated my feet on a log reminding me of all those painful descents on the long trail last summer.  It was so beautiful looking up at the trees and the blue sky with the fast moving clouds and I tried to take in as much of it as I could.

Once back at the car we were stoked to have had a successful hike and it was a relief to take my boots off and change into dry cotton in the warm car.  It was a lovely drive home through Franconia Notch with Lafayette looming on the left and Cannon rising up on the right.  We texted and called our loved ones to let them know we were safe and off the mountain.  I got to know my new friends during the 3 hour drive home and we shared stories.  I was home in time for dinner and I was in bed by 8:30.

In conclusion, I’m still not sure how I feel about winter hiking.  I love the snow and I love the snow caked scraggly trees up there.  But zero degrees is kind of intense.  I’m hoping my next winter hike will be at least 20 degrees warmer.  I have yet to snowshoe up a mountain and to be perfectly honest, I am not that eager to.  I don’t mind the micro spikes…they feel like a super power.  I AM however VERY eager to hike up a mountain in sneakers and shorts and I can’t wait for that.  In the meantime I will continue to experiment with winter hiking.

Post hike

It’s been just about two weeks since I finished hiking the Long Trail. I reunited with my awesome and incredible partner who picked me up in Northampton at The Venture Out Project Headquarters where Bear Bait and I were hanging out after generously being picked up by Perry in North Adams.

Talk about a sight for sore eyes!  I’ve never been away from my partner for this long in the 8 years we’ve been together. In the 4 years we’ve lived together I’ve never been away from home for more than 10 days. Infact the last time I left Jamaica Plain for this long was 15 years ago when I spent a month at Haystack in Maine and then drove with my friend from Boston to Santa Cruz, CA via the Deep South following a map I saved from a skateboard magazine detailing every skatepark in the US and trying to skate as many as possible along the way. (This was before internet)  Before mountains inspired me to adventure, outdoor skateparks with concrete bowls led me to almost every state and up and down both coasts on many road trips.

Even after two weeks of being home I am still enamored by running water, flush toilets, the kitchen and the stove with its endless-seeming gas flow, chairs, vegetables with their water still in them. I enjoy the little things like the opportunity to wash my hands and I love making toast and real coffee.

I was extremely tired when I got home and was mostly grounded but there was definitely a crash.  I drove to Vermont with my pal Seven and picked up a Long Trail hiker on the side of the road in Johnson and drove them back to the trail which soothed some of my post trail grief.  We also drove thru smugglers notch and saw rocky craggy caves on this notch road. Then we went to the Green Mountain Club Welcome Center where I ritualistically handed in my journal and Long Trail End-To-Enders Certification Application which will formally put me in the archives with others who have hiked the trail and also award me a patch!  I also bought myself a hat.


After a week I feel like I finally recovered from a month of unrestful sleep and adjusted back to my urban environment. It’s very loud where I live. I’m on a Main Street directly on a major city bus route and a block from a fire station. Lots of sirens and squeaky breaks and engines of large vehicles. It’s overwhelming sometimes.

I finally went back to work this week as I have spent all my money. I am happily self employed. I was reminded of hiking down the forehead of Mansfield today at work as I have my ladder set up on top of some sketchy scaffolding of wood planks over a stairwell.  I actually think I was more comfortable and less afraid as a result of some of the sketchy steep spots I climbed in Vermont.  It feels good to work again but it’s emotionally challenging being out in the world surrounded by the chaotic energy of stressed out people rushing around chasing shiny things.  I’m booked solid for work for the next 3 weeks which feels both oppressive and relieving and I’m grateful for the work.

While I did wash my backpack and aired out some gear, my stuff is still exploded in my room. I think part of me is in denial that the hike is over and I don’t want to put anything away.  I’m looking forward to some fall hiking in the White Mountains in October after I catch back up on my finances this month.  I hope to hike more and do less and make my life simpler thus stay more connected and present to the stuff that matters most like the sky and love.

I do feel that I released something while walking  n the woods for a month. I had a self esteem boost that has enabled me to be more free. I’m just shocked sometimes when I realize I’ve been internalizing negative messages reflected back to me by a mainstream culture where bodies like mine aren’t enough. I am just that much more committed to this lifelong practice of self love and self acceptance as a hairy female bodied, pot bellied,  masculine mannered, male presenting (while not intending to pass and ridden with a lifetime of bathroom anxiety), sometimes slightly scruffy bearded, short, queer, butch, soft core, breastless 38 year old woman person human!

I met marathon runners who couldn’t handle the trail. I met conditioned athletes who have done all kinds of remarkable physical things but they could barely hike in the Northeast.  I saw people with fancy expensive ultralight gear and fit looking bodies who complained and wanted to quit. The Long Trail of Vermont is rugged.  The White Mountains of New Hamshire are rugged. I hike these ridge lines with great joy and sheer determination and I often give my mind all the credit.  But I must give my body some credit too.  I am strong. I may not look it but I am. And I am tough as nails.

Coming soon: A gear review and how my $35 New Balance trail runners faired the 272+ miles and how I missed my boots thus my overall footwear dilemma.