Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mount Kearsarge

August 5, 2008.
On Tuesday, my brother drove me to east-central New Hampshire where Mary and a couple of friends picked me up from Maine. On the way over, we had time to hike up Mount Kearsarge in Central NH.

The day threatened rain continually, and we drove through some rain, but by the time we got to the parking lot at Winslow State Park, it was just heavily overcast. Nur had done this hike before, and suggested going up a short but steep trail, and descending by a longer, less steep one. The mountain is 2,937 feet in elevation and the trail we climbed goes up 1,100 feet in 1.1 miles. The trail we used to descend is 1.8 miles long and a lot easier, plus it gave us the chance to make a circuit hike out of it.

The climb was steep and very rocky, but not as steep as Mt. Monadnock. We stopped a couple of times to catch our breath during the ascent.

Like our other hikes, the lower levels through were northern hardwood forests, and the upper levels were in spruce – fir forests:

Once we reached the top, there was a short fire tower and a very tall cellular tower. The latter wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but I guess that is part of the price of having five bars on one’s phone. A couple of guys hiked in to work on the tower, one of them carrying a 100 pound piece of equipment. The guy not carrying the equipment was the one complaining about having to carry the thing up there and how heavy it was.

Nur told me that on a clear day the view is spectacular, and you can see Mount Washington. But today, we mostly saw clouds. Now and then the clouds would partially break and we would see a hint of some views.

We relaxed for a while on the summit of smooth granite and ate lunch. We asked a hiker to snap a shot of the two of us on the summit of Mount Kearsarge. My brother is a good 4 inches taller than me, but I always seem to pick a spot where the terrain is lower where I am standing than where he is, making him look even taller!

Nur knew of a little bog near the summit, off trail, so we hiked around for a bit on the other side of the mountain until we could find it. Along the way, there were plenty of ripe blueberries, which we helped ourselves to. The bog was very pretty, and is a unique environment near the top of a mountain. With the clouds, it looked a little spooky:

On the longer but less steep hike down, we were chatting about some of the times growing up. At one point, we were discussing a trick we played on a friend, and I told my brother “I felt bad that we did that, but I have never had any remorse about the trick with the wine that we played on our ex-brother in law”. As I told him this, I was descending a steep slab of rock, and suddenly hit a slick spot and started to fall. My legs buckled into a very low squat with a lot of stress on my knees as I slid to the bottom. Quick reflexes and all that marathon training and strong legs and knees prevented me from any injury. We laughed about the timing of me nearly taking a fall two seconds after saying I didn’t feel bad about playing a trick on the former husband of our sister. He said “Hmmm, maybe you should feel some remorse about that trick we played.” Then we agreed, naw, no remorse was necessary for that little incident!

A little later, we passed a grey haired couple struggling a bit on their hike up. Afterwards, I turned to Nur and started to say something, then stopped myself when I realized what I was about to say. So I rephrased it and said “Nur, I was going to say it is cool to see people that age out hiking, even if they are having a bit of a struggle. Then I realized, we are nearly their age!” We both laughed about that. But at least we weren’t struggling. :)

This hike was a perfect end of four days of outdoor fun in the Granite State. It was also the end to any semblance of nice weather, as it rained my entire trip in Maine.

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