Anton and I woke at Sugarloaf II campground in New Hampshire. I love this campground, it is deeply forested and features the sound of a river roaring past. At this point we have camped together so many times that we are able to prep breakfast and break camp within an hour. We did just that.
I didn’t sleep well, I kept hearing what I thought was a moose or black bear all night. The idea of a bear ravaging our tent or a moose trampling us made me want to cry. These are of course completely irrational fears. This morning we hike Mt. Hale just down the road from our camp. It would be an easy 4 mile hike, many would say the easiest of all the 4,000 footers. Just a quick hike, then onto Magog, Quebec for an evening at the nordic spa. Being able to heal your body is necessary with an intense exercise regimen. Anton and I try to go once and a while for thermal cycle bliss (hot, cold, rest, repeat).
Overcast skies, but the forecast promised that it wouldn’t rain till 3pm. It was 9am when we started and we would easily be back in the car by 1pm if not sooner. One mile in the forecast lied. It down-poured for a few minutes, neither of us brought rain gear. The tree coverage kept us dry, but the weather remained unseasonably cold. Both of us just got over a few months of terrible illness which took us forever to completely shake. With me starting a new job recently I couldn’t get sick again. We cautiously pressed on, I wore a scarf to keep my neck warm.
The path had few rocks, a welcome relief from the usual New England trails which are covered in granite. I loved it. We heard running water from the same river which cut through the campsite and discovered a beautiful cascade. Then as quickly as the rain stopped, it started again, then stopped again, then started again. With no rain gear and weakened immune systems we made a very difficult decision. I stared up the trail lusting after the summit, only 1 more mile to go. So close, yet so far. For our health and well-being, we had to turn back.
It poured in the morning. It seems that I cannot hike Mt. Hale without rain. Once we were sure we were clear we packed our rain gear in our backpacks just in case. Anton and I left our site at Osceola Vista Campground in Waterville Valley and made our way up Zealand Road to that fated trailhead. How could I be so stupid as to not pack rain gear? How could I fail the easiest 4,000 footer? It didn’t matter, we know we made the right decision at the time. We paid the price and we would not make that mistake again. At least we didn’t catch another cold.
We sped up the trail until we reached the point where we turned around last time, exactly half way. The trail continued to be incredibly easy. We listed off all of the people who would love this trail, all of those non-experienced hikers we would love to take here. I couldn’t recommend a better beginner 4,000 footer. Few rocks on the trail makes for an easy path. In addition this trail wasn’t even close to the steep trails I am so used to in the White Mountains.
The summit was little more than a clearing in the woods with a large cairn, very underwhelming. Not one single view the entire hike. That’s okay, hikes like these teach us to appreciate the little things around us. The forest and the trickling brook are just as beautiful as a wide open sweeping view of the mountains.
The next day we hiked Mt. Osceola from the trail head on Tripoli Road with Anton’s parents. Unfortunately on the way down my knees started to give out. I was in unbelievable pain, this was a direct result of giving up my trekking poles on Jefferson a week ago. My knees aren’t strong and can’t take the rugged mountain trails on their own. Lesson learned, never give up your poles to anyone. The day after we were supposed to hike Passaconaway/Whiteface, but sadly I was in far too much pain to take on another mountain. Next weekend.
Other News and Updates:
I learned a lot from this experience. Why am I rushing to do 48 mountains in one year? I am doing nothing but stressing myself and not truly enjoying my time on the trail as much as I should be. I am also missing out on other smaller peaks in the White Mountains which are equally beautiful. This is not an excuse for me to be lazy, but on the contrary an opportunity to begin other lists and climb other mountains I so desire to see. This should mean more adventures for you and I. The 52 With a View list is calling my name! I haven’t given up on my goal, I’m going to try and complete as many 4,000 footers this year as humanly possible, and eventually sometime next year I’ll have the 48 4,000 footers done. There were so many set backs this year, if only I had unlimited time.
There’s another reason for this. I’m moving in with Anton! My commute will be awful, but it is well worth the trouble. This is happening right in the middle of the summer when I have tons of spare time, which is great, but hiking will have to sit on the back-burner for a few weeks in August.
My apologies for the lack of photos on this hike. It wasn’t the most scenic hike unfortunately.