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...