Tuesday, July 5, 2011

2011.07.03 - Mt Garfield

This was to be our longest hike (in distance) so far this year at just over 10-miles.  Mt Garfield has a 4,500' summit and getting there involved a 3,150' climb.  We were a bit nervous about the length of this trip but instead we should have been more worried about the weather.

The forecast for the day was partly cloudy with the possibility of drenching thunderstorms in the afternoon but, there was only a 40% chance of rain.  That 40% turned into 100% and it pretty much lasted for the entire hike.  It would rain, then pause, then rain again.  And when it wasn't raining the wind was blowing water off the leaves in the trees above us so it was raining when it wasn't raining.  Luckily this past week we had purchased more appropriate rain gear that was breathable to replace the plastic ponchos we've been carrying.  Plastic ponchos are like having a portable sauna with you on a hike.  As we have learned many times over the past few months, having the right gear is imperative.  We also learned about another simple piece of gear that is truly necessary. Read on.

During last week's hike of Mt Lafayette, I saw many people with some sort of cover over their day packs.  People were using these because it had rained lightly a couple of times during the day and they were protecting the contents of their packs from getting wet.  Now, I have done very little hiking in the rain so I've always assumed that my day pack was somewhat waterproof.  Not.  Learning from what I observed last weekend I had purchased one of these day pack covers before this hike.  Though I hoped to never need it, my purchase of this cover was timely indeed.  When picking out my day pack cover at Kittery Trading Post, I turned to Sue to ask if she wanted one also.  She said no.  On this hike, she would regret that decision.  Later this evening we had every stitch of the contents of her day pack spread around our hotel room trying to dry it all out.  My day pack stayed dry as a bone all day.

We were expecting this hike to take us about 9-10 hours.  Our typical pace is about 1 to 1.25 miles per hour including breaks and lunch.  Today however we finished the 10-miles in 7.5 hours.  Probably somewhat due to the rain, which meant there were fewer pauses to take in the surroundings and the fact that this is a relative 'easy' hike.  The slope is slow and steady.  In my experience it is rare to find a hike with a slope this consistent over its length.  The last quarter mile is steep but the rest is a nice hike.

Enjoy the pics:

Our first water crossing of the day.

 One of the harder rains of the day.  It is pouring out!
Partly cloudy my a_ _.  What a dork!

Not many views on this climb until you reach the summit area.  This is one of the few glimpses we got.  The weather may have caused us to miss others as we were focused on reaching the summit because of the rain as well as the thunder we could hear in the distance.

We stopped for a mid-morning snack.

I was impressed with the moss on the forest floor.

 Near the summit this trail turns into a real climb but there is only about .2 miles to go.

Coming down required a couple of butt slides.

White marble rock.

The following several shots are from the summit of Mt Garfield.  Notice the pockets of clouds spotting the horizon.

This shot looks toward Mt Lafayette where we climbed last weekend.

On the summit of Mt Garfield there is a foundation from an old fire tower.

Sliding down off the summit.  No graceful way to do this...

We descended from the summit and had 4.8 miles to go to return to the car.

 Logs layed down to help in crossing wet areas.  This is a common practice on the trails in the White Mountains.

Much of this trail follows a very old logging road.  I thought many times during much of this hike what it must of been like to be a logger in these mountains.  It is hard to imagine.

An interesting flat rock.

Tired but done.  10-miles!  Just a warm up for tomorrow's hike!!

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