30 weeks on Mt. Washington, NH

Kristine & I recently returned from a wonderful 6 days on the coast of Maine and in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with the Oelbergers and good friends. We try and do an annual trip to New England every summer and each time it seems this trip gets better and better. This time around we took a 1 hour, 10 seat puddle jumper on Cape Air from Boston to Rockland, Maine, which is only 10 minutes from the Oelbergers house on the coast. This flight sure beat a 4+ hour drive from Boston, a bus to Portland with an additional 1-1/2 hour drive, or some combination of the two as we have done in the past. Its always so much fun and so relaxing to be at Ken & Dianne’s home on the water of the St. George River, which feeds into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Oelbergers home is on the peninsula just above picture center. The town of Tenant's Harbor is bottom center. Picture taken from the Cape Air flight back to Boston

The Oelbergers home is on the peninsula just above picture center. The town of Tenant’s Harbor is bottom center. Picture taken from the Cape Air flight back to Boston

On our first full day in Maine, we took a 4 mile hike on some new trails that Ken & Dianne worked on and were recently completed. Despite the mosquitos, it was great to stretch the legs with the family.

Kristine & I on the wooded trail

Kristine & I on the wooded trail

The next day, we road-tripped to the White Mountains of New Hampshire with Ken & Dianne via back roads and towns as there is no direct east-west interstates in that part of the country. We rolled into the White Mountain School near Littleton 5+ hours later to visit our great friends Ryan “Baba” & Lizzie Aldrich, their two youngins, Avery & Colden, and golden retriever, Khumbu. They live in a old farmhouse right off campus and Ryan built a fire pit out back. I had never been to the White Mountains, but I was truly blown away by what this area has to offer. Its like a smaller version of what we have available here in Colorado: the small town country feel, trail running, mountain biking, skiing (inbounds and backcountry) and rock climbing all within a stone’s throw of their house. We spent two wonderful nights with the Aldriches and had a jam-packed full day of fun and adventure with everyone. While Baba & Kristine had been up Mt. Washington, New Hampshire’s highest peak at 6,288′, a few times, the rest of us had not, and so hiking up this state highpoint was on the agenda for all of us. After summitting Mt. Katahdin in Maine last year, the Oelbergers and Chalks are on a conquest of New England’s state highpoints together. Up at 6am at the Aldrich homestead and out the door around 7:30am, we all met at the base station for the Cog railway at 2,700′ on the mountain’s west side. Kristine & the Oelbergers started up the Jewell Trail as I waiting just a bit for Baba & Lizzie as they had to take Avery & Colden to daycare. There are numerous trails up and down Mt. Washington, but we all agreed upon the Jewell Trail, as it was reported the least rockiest. Yes, the mountains in Colorado are much steeper and higher, but I have to say that the trails in New England are much more hardcore. Tree roots combined with the boulders and rocks that seem to have a density of at last two large rocks for every square foot of trail make these trails tough and slower going. Trail running on these trails doesn’t come as easy as it does on the nice smooth dirt trails of Colorado. I can’t imagine being a trail runner in New Hampshire and never spraining/breaking your ankle. Nevertheless, Baba, Lizzie, Khumbu, and I caught up with Kristine, Ken, and Dianne, and enjoyed hiking all together up the nice Jewell Trail.

Kristine, Baba, & Lizzie

Kristine, Baba, & Lizzie

The cog railway huffin' & puffin's its way up Mt. Washington one ridge over

The Cog railway huffin’ & puffin’s its way up Mt. Washington one ridge over

Dianne & Ken

Dianne & Ken

Beautiful Mt. Washington forests

Beautiful Mt. Washington forests

I think Rainier helped Khumbu learn the ways of the "trail dog". She sure can hike and scramble, that's for certain

I think Rainier helped Khumbu learn the ways of the “trail dog”. She sure can hike and scramble, that’s for certain

Kristine, despite being now 30 weeks pregnant with our little lady, did so extremely well. We eventually broke through treeline and the valleys opened up around us.

Above treeline looking west. Our starting point, the Cog railroad station, can be seen left of center

Above treeline looking west. Our starting point, the Cog railroad station, can be seen left of center

The summit of Mt. Washington 1,500' above

The summit of Mt. Washington 1,500′ above

Kristine & Lizzie

Kristine & Lizzie

Baba & Lizzie

Baba & Lizzie

Kristine & I on a nice perch above treeline

Kristine & I on a nice perch above treeline

Ken & Dianne

Ken & Dianne

And on we go...

And on we go…

The Cog railway on a bridge with Mt. Monroe and the Lakes of the Clouds Hut behind. Baba, Khumbu, & I would descend by this hut on the Ammonusuc Ravine Trail

The Cog railway on a bridge with Mt. Monroe and the Lakes of the Clouds Hut behind. Baba, Khumbu, & I would descend by this hut on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail

Baba & Khumbu

Baba & Khumbu

The Jewell Trail climbs maybe 2,700′ in 3.7 miles before it intersects the Gulfside Trail above treeline below Mt. Clay and then heads south to the summit of Mt. Washington. Having Khumbu with us made Kristine and I feel much better about not having Rainie & Kona with us. Khumbu is the best golden retriever I have ever spent time with (except for Rainie of course), a well-trained and wonderfully tempered dog, and not to mention such a lover.

Khumbu & I

Khumbu & I

Khumbu standing guard

Khumbu standing guard

We picked our way up the Gulfside Trail and the views just got better and better of the surrounding Presidential Range and valleys.

Dianne

Dianne with the northern Presidential Range peaks behind

Lizzie & Kristine

Lizzie & Kristine

On the upper slopes on Mt. Washinmgton

On the upper slopes on Mt. Washington

Kristine looking and doing great

Kristine looking and doing great

The Cog railway track

The Cog railway track

Kristine topping out on Mt. Washington at 30 weeks pregnant

Kristine topping out on Mt. Washington at 30 weeks pregnant

Lizzie scooted ahead to try and buy a ticket and make the 1:30pm Cog railway down the mountain in order to pick the kids up by 3pm or so. We were able to see her off on the Cog and shortly afterwards Ken & Dianne arrived on the top of New Hampshire. We were all so proud of Ken & Dianne for their second New England state highpoint in as many years. The crowds on top of Washington were quite extensive due to the fact most folks take the Cog up or just drive up to the summit. We even had to wait in line to take a picture at the true summit with the Mt. Washington sign. Baba had brought up some “Baba Beer”, which we all enjoyed. Its the best black lager I’ve ever had. Dianne took a liking to it as well.

Kristine & Lizzie before Lizzie took the 1:30 Cog down the mountain

Kristine & Lizzie before Lizzie took the 1:30 Cog down the mountain

Baba & Lizzie

Baba & Lizzie

Me, Baba, & Khumbu with our "Baba Beer" on the summit of Mt. Washington

Me, Baba, & Khumbu with our “Baba Beer” on the summit of Mt. Washington

Despite being a lighter beer guy, Ken even enjoyed some "Baba Beer"

Despite being a lighter beer guy, Ken even enjoyed some “Baba Beer”

Summit of Mt. Washington, NH (6,288')

Summit of Mt. Washington, NH (6,288′)

The whole crew on the summit of Mt. Washington, NH (6,288') minus Lizzie, who was with us in spirit. At least she made the 1:30pm Cog down the mountain

The whole crew on the summit of Mt. Washington, NH (6,288′) minus Lizzie, who was with us in spirit. At least she made the 1:30pm Cog down the mountain

All three Chalks on top of New Hampshire

All three Chalks on top of New Hampshire

Mt. Washington USGS summit marker

Mt. Washington USGS summit marker

We spent a good hour on the summit before Baba, Khumbu and I started our trail run descent down a different route – the Gulfside Trail to the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, which leads back to the base of the Cog railway. Ken, Dianne, and Kristine would hang around the summit for a bit and catch the 3:30pm Cog down the mountain hopefully giving Baba, Khumbu & I enough time to get down. Baba & Khumbu relaxed at the Lakes of the Clouds Hut while I did a short run up to the summit of Mt. Monroe (5,372′), which afforded more spectacular views.

Looking north to Mt. Washington from Mt. Monroe's summit

Looking north to Mt. Washington from Mt. Monroe’s summit

Looking at the southern Presidential Range from Mt. Monroe's summit

Looking at the southern Presidential Range from Mt. Monroe’s summit

After some steeper scrambling down the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail for 3 miles, we arrived back at the base of the Cog around 4pm. It was some solid trail time with Baba after a good year hiatus from hiking together.

Beautiful waterfalls coming down the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail

Beautiful waterfalls coming down the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail

We arrived at the base only to learn that the 3:30pm trail was delayed due to mechanical issues. It was soon fixed and Kristine, Ken, & Dianne arrived at the base around 4:45pm. Apparently, Kristine overheard a group on Washington’s summit talking about some pregnant lady hiking up Washington. We all thought that was funny. Baba then took us to an awesome river spot for some cliff jumping. The cliff itself was likely only 25′ high, but boy was the water cold. I don’t think Baba had done this jump before so I was glad to do it with him.

Me dropping the cliff. Such a cool swimming/cliff jumping spot

Me dropping the cliff. Such a cool swimming/cliff jumping spot

Baba launches

Baba launches

Baba mid-air

Baba mid-air

Baba walking on water

Baba walking on water

Good buddies

Good buddies

The next day (Saturday) Lizzie competed in and placed 2nd in her age division in the local Top Notch Triathalon! She really did extremely well and was very impressive. As I cannot bike or swim well at all, I asked her if she wanted me to run along with her up Cannon Ski Mountain as the third and final leg of the triathalon. Lizzie thought that would be a great idea and that she would love for me to be alongside her for support and motivation. So, that’s what I did. I held her water bottle and some energy gels and ran with her up the 2,000′ of vertical gain to the finish line at the ski mountain’s summit. It was an honor to be with her and was very fun. I hope me being there beside her helped her to go a bit faster. She didn’t need me at all. It was just fun to be with her. As we didn’t really know if a “pacer” was legit with the triathalon’s rules, I ditched out before the finish line and met her up top. Baba, Kristine, and the kids took the tram up to the summit and we all congratulated Lizzie. We even ran into the really good friends of the Oelbergers, the Muchards, at the race as their daughter and son-in-law were competing as well.

After saying our goodbyes to our really good friends, we left for Maine and the Oelberger Residence arriving at around 8pm that Saturday evening. Sunday was a relaxation day and we had a great cornhole tournament with Ken, Dianne, and three of their good friends in the afternoon. On our last day in Maine, Kristine & I got up early and drove an hour to Booth Bay Harbor to catch a ferry to Squirrel Island and visit our great friends Chris & Kate Danforth. Chris & Kate spend their summers at the Danforth house with their kids Harper & Afton. Harper is now 8 years old and is a climbing monkey. I had never been to Squirrel and visiting this fairly private and secluded island was a special treat. Kristine had visited Kate here before. There are only about 100 homes on the island, a small post office, ice cream store, a library, a few tennis courts, and a church. That’s about it. The island is pretty small with a perimeter of about 2.5 miles around the shoreline that resembles the body shape of a squirrel facing west. Pretty much everyone walks everywhere and everyone seems to know everyone. It was the kind of small community I just love. Houses rarely come on the market and they are passed down generation to generation. I believe there is only one lot for sale too. Chris’s parents actually met on Squirrel Island as both of their families had homes on the island. It is really a special place.

The beautiful Danforth homestead on Squirrel

The beautiful Danforth homestead on Squirrel

Chris took me on his daily ritual – his island “rock hop” run around the rocky/slabby coastline of Squirrel. It was so much fun following Chris on this awesome run. Its basically a combo of trail running and scrambling over rocks for 2.5 miles. I think we did it just shy of 30 minutes, which was a decent time considering we were moving pretty fast yet still chatting and he showed me a few cool spots including a cliff jump along the way. After building a good sweat, we met Kate, Kristine, Harper, and Afton on the beach area and went for a much needed swim. Its too bad Chris and I live across the country from each other. I think we all feel like the two of us are like peas and carrots. Its great. Chris & Kate cooked us an awesome lunch of BBQ chicken and caprese salad. Yum. We then went on a boat ride with Captain Kate at the helm and then walked over to the cliff jump.

Boat ride

Boat ride

Kate, Kristine, & Afton

Kate, Kristine, & Afton

Apparently there was a dead seal near the cliff jump, but we didn’t see it. Anyway, Chris and I jumped while the ladies and Afton watched. It was a great jump into the ocean. Two videos of Chris and I jumping below:

Chris and I after the cliff jump

Chris and I after the cliff jump

Later on that day, Chris and Afton took the boat around the island to the cliff and saw the seal carcass. It was literally 10 ft from where we jumped in. Glad we didn’t see it at the time! After some more beach time, we showered up and caught the 5:40pm ferry back to Booth Bay harbor. Again, it was sad to leave our good friends and such an amazing place, but feel fortunate we were all able to spend a great day together. We look forward to future adventures and time together with Chris & Kate and their awesome kids.

All in all, one of the best trips back to New England we have done. Seeing family, reuniting with great friends, and experiencing great places all helped to make this a special trip.

6 Comments

  1. Great photos and wonderful narrative! We so loved our time with you three :-) Love you both

    Reply
    • Thanks, Dianne! We so loved our time with you all!!

      Reply
  2. Brando, this is one of my favorite reports of yours man! It’s great to see you and Christine out on the east coast exploring Maine and the Whites. Well done duder! PS I can’t wait to meet Stew!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Dillon. One of my favs too. I don’t know, man – Stew for a lady? Hmm. Kristine may have some beef with you on that!

      Reply
  3. Peas and carrots indeed! Love you guys, had a blast!

    Reply
    • Right back at ya, Chris! Hope we can get together sooner than later, buddy!

      Reply

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