Saturday, November 2, 2013

2013.11.02 Mt Shaw-Black Snout-Big Ball - A Stunning Fall Day

This is another case where I did not make hand written notes of our hike and my memory of the details is limited.  I am writing this blog post months later (that's my first excuse).  I'll be 60 years old in 90 days (that's my second excuse).  Is age the issue? 

I do however remember a few things.  First, it was a stunning early November day in NH.  Second, the views were beautiful (now there's a profound statement about a hike in NH).  Third, we did the loop in a clockwise direction using the Mount Shaw trail to first summit yep, you guessed it, Mount Shaw.  We then headed to Black Snout and when we left Black Snout we headed towards Big Ball on the "Blue-Blazed Trail" (such a creative name).  In the early parts of the latter trail I thought we were bushwacking!  It did open up after a time but early only it was rather primitive.

Our total trip was somewhere in the vicinity of 6.5-miles with 2,320' of cumulative elevation gain.  Here is an elevation plot from my GPS:

Now on to some photos:

So who built this pyramid?  The Aztecs?

Looking back at Mount Shaw from some ledges.

All in all a beautiful hike that I would choose to do again.


Monday, October 21, 2013

2013.10.21 Potash Mtn - A Lot For A Little

This was a short and easy fall hike with great rewards for little effort.  I like that!

We did a simple in and out hike using the Mt. Potash Trail off the Kancamagus Highway.  It was only a 4.4 mile RT with about 1,400 feet of elevation gain.  The photos will speak for themselves.

This trail needs a root canal.


While having lunch sitting on a rock a furry friend joined us.

He was bothering me so I decided to look him straight in the eye.  That is an eye isn't it?


Pause for a moment and check out the beauty of this shot.  The blue sky background could not be more perfect.

What the heck is this growth.  A bit eerie...

 Stunning late fall picture!


Saturday, September 28, 2013

2013.09.28 Mt Hancock to So. Hancock Loop - A Second Attempt

Today was a stunning fall day with temps about 70 even at the summit.  Our original intent was to hike just Mt Hancock, which we missed when we tried to hike this loop trail in 2011 with some friends.  On that 2011 attempt my wife and I bailed and we only made it to the South summit while our friends completed the loop.  See my blog post of that 2011 hike for more details.

The hike up Mt Hancock is, shall we say, a heart pumper.  The section from the junction to the summit climbs over 1,000' in just 7/10 of a mile.  That 7/10 however, first starts with a descent (that's the wrong direction) into a small valley and the real climb only begins about 2/10 from the junction.  Hold on, let me do the math.  That means the 1,000' gain now comes in about a half-mile.  For me, whenever you have an elevation change at 1,000' or more per mile, its a challenge.  That said, Mr. & Mrs. Slowsky took their time and we survived the climb.  In fact, we felt pretty good and the weather was great so we decided to hike the 1.4 mile ridge over to South Hancock.  The entire loop is about 9.8 miles and we finished in about 7 hours. It was a day to remember!

 If you hike in the White Mountains and have not yet stumbled upon the AMC's White Mountain Guide Online you must check it out!  It is the best hike planning tool out there and it only costs $12/year ($15 if you are not an AMC member which of course you should be).  We plan almost every trip in the Whites with this tool.  You can manually select your routes and it will provide everything from trail descriptions to maps (like the one above) with distances and elevation changes listed.  GPS coordinates of trail heads can be downloaded and more.  Honestly, I would pay three times that amount for it (shh...don't tell the AMC).

Now this is a great picture of a Gray Jay plucking a pretzel from my hand and as he flies away the rays of the sun create a stunning look.  We actually sent this photo to our local newspaper and they published it (twice, but that is another story).


Saturday, September 21, 2013

2013.09.21 Galehead Mtn - No Longer A Purist; For Certain!

A couple of years ago, some months after I first started hiking, I had my sights set on hiking the 48 4ks in NH in a purist fashion.  That is, I would only hike one 4k summit for each outing requiring that I later return to hike what might be other nearby 4k summits. No peak bagging for me.  How naive.

Once I learned more about hiking in general and about remote hikes like the Bonds (which I've not yet done), this purist approach seemed, well, stupid. Not to mention the fact that being the Mr. & Mrs. Slowsky of the hiking community would make fulfilling our purist approach pretty much impossible.  For clarity, Mrs. Slowsky is only slow because of Mr. Slowsky.  

By the time we hiked Galehead I had long ago given up on my purist approach but I actually had not fully admitted it to myself.  This hike sealed the deal.

About two years ago we had hiked South Twin using the Gale River Trail.  Today we hiked Galehead Mountain using that same trail.  This is is a reasonably long hike at 10.6 miles.  From the Galehead Hut, the front porch of which we had sat on two years ago while doing South Twin, it is less than a half mile to the summit of Galehead.  Really?  I hiked that same 10 miles to again reach this same point all in the name of being a purist!  Would it not have made vastly more sense to summit Galehead while doing South Twin.  Duh...

It was a stunning day.  Note the AMC's Galehead Hut in the distance.

 Doesn't Lebron James wear a headband like this?  And, doesn't he also sweat?

A veteran's memorial that had been placed on the summit cairn.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

2013.09.14 Mt Pierce - Flags on the 48

Sue and I had the profound privilege to hike Mt Pierce with a group of friends for the annual remembrance of the attacks of 9/11.  This event is organized each year by a group of hikers and each year teams volunteer to hike all 48 4k's in NH on the same Saturday morning on the date closest to September 11th.  Each team erects an American flag at every summit at noon.  It is truly an amazing and touching remembrance.  Check out the organization that puts this all together @  The following is a trip report I had written shortly after this event which was posted on their website:

Our team of eight (including Bennie a golden retriever, who by the way has done all 48 4k’s) were all newbies to Flags on the 48. Some of us had seen the event in prior years but this was our first time participating. No doubt we will do it again.

Two people in our group hike a bit slower than the others (that’d be me) so we left about 45 minutes before the rest of the team. The remaining five left the Crawford Path trail head about 9:00 headed towards Mt. Pierce. Midway up the mountain our groups merged. As other groups have reported, it was a wet all day either from rain, drizzle or the constant water on the trail. Our spirits remained high regardless. That said, it was a bit tougher to remain positive in the cold wind at the summit.

We reached the summit around 11:15 and began setting up our flag which was flying strong by 11:45. As we started the process of setting up our flag, a Boy Scout troop of about 18 boys from MA arrived and they lent a hand with the set up. It was great to have them there!

Our flag was from the funeral of the father of one of our team members. His dad was a vet so the flag had some special meaning to us. It was the first time this flag had been out of its storage case.

Once the flag was raised, about 20 people in total had gathered at the summit and we all said the pledge of allegiance and sang our national anthem. One of our group members is a pastoral intern at our church so he then led us in a short prayer. Another member of our team then read a short poem written by her father shortly after 9-11. All in all it was very touching.

Over the next several hours the summit was a constant flow of traffic. Many folks were going to or from Jackson or to Eisenhower so we may have experienced more traffic than most summits. I would guess nearly 75 people in total passed through.

Beaten by the cold and drizzle, we began taking our flag down a bit after 1:30. I envy those who had sunshine as we saw nothing but the inside of a cloud all day.

Each and every chance we got during the ascent, at the summit or on the descent we would explain to those who didn’t know why we were carrying so many lengths of PVC (several thought we were fishing). It amazes me how many people, once hearing about the cause, would share a heartfelt thank you. Of course, most who did know of the event were also very thankful.

We may have been cold and wet on the outside, but our hearts and spirits were warmed by all of the positive feedback.

"Most" of our team.  Sue and I had left a bit earlier.  We are Mr. & Mrs Slowsky of the White Mountains so we needed a head start.

It was great that we had all these hands to help setup.

Our full Mt Pierce team poses with the flag.

She's on her way down.

 Our team's sherpa...


Sunday, August 18, 2013

2013.08.18 Bar Harbor, Maine - Key Decisions In Life

My posts on this blog are most often only about hiking, in particular in the White Mountains of NH.  In this case however this trip was not solely about hiking and, instead of the White Mountains, we spent our time in beautiful Bar Harbor, Maine.  We worked, biked, hiked and did some whale watching.  I love this place!

We stayed at the new and spectacular West Street Hotel in the center of Bar Harbor.  It is a beautiful but $$$$$$ venue (can I use six dollar signs?). When I return to Bar Harbor I would be hard pressed to stay anywhere else.

Our trip started with two days of business meetings.  Our company's small senior management team (only 3 of us) decided in these meetings that everything was in place and that I could finally make one of the key decisions in my life - to semi-retire.  I had longed for this day.  I had arguably been a workaholic for decades and that was about to change.  YEE HA!

After our meetings we had a few days to relax and take in the beauty of Bar Harbor with our spouses.  We started with a 25 mile bike ride on the carriage roads of Acadia National Park:

We then did a hike to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.  Let me start with just one photo from the top of Cadillac that is a bit special. 

So you might be saying to yourself, "Ray, that's nice but why is this photo so special?"  Well, pay close attention to the island that you can only see a portion of in the distance on the left hand edge of the picture above.  Now carefully look at the very next picture below.

Exactly seven days later my oldest son Addison and his beautiful wife Isabeau stood in nearly the same spot and became man & wife (note the same island in this photo).  Their marriage was a "planned elopement" so we were not actually there but, it is eerie that unbeknownst to us we had stood in nearly the same spot just a few days earlier.  We knew months in advance that they were going to elope.  That is merely how they decided to get married so the focus would be on each other instead of all of the guests.  There was so much less pressure and planning!

So, lets go back to a few photos from our hike of Cadillac Mountain.

The day following this hike we capped off our stay in Bar Harbor with a whale watch.  It was so very cool!  I have three dozen photos but here are just a few of the best.

Look very carefully a this shot.  That is a mother and her calf breaching side by side.  It is very clear in the original but may not be readily apparent in this downsized photo.

A truly fitting end to a beautiful stay.  As we cruised back from our whale watch we watched the sunset over the town of Bar Harbor.