Sunday, May 15, 2016

Catching Up - Bringing Back DMOutdoors

Cover photo: October 2015, Sunset from Signal Ridge Trail, Mt. Carrigain

2015 was one off the best and busiest years of my life. Most of you who have enjoyed following DMOutdoors are my friends and family, and will know most of this update when you think back to all my updates, but I feel that some sort of "catch-up" post is required as explanation as to the stoppage of keeping up with the blog. Everything going on the last year was just too much to allow me to sit at the computer...and for sure, that's not a bad thing at all, however, I've always been passionate about my blog, and its time to bring it back. But first, lets take a look back at what has transpired since June 2015 to we go.

In October of 2014, around my 30th Birthday, I decided that I would attempt to complete the remaining 42% of my White Mountain Grid ( in the next year. That goal would entail hiking anywhere from 10 to 32 4,000-footers per month while working my full time job with my brother's commercial flooring business. The total was over 240 mountains, mostly at night, after work. I finally completed my 48 at night (summit after sunset/before sunrise). Many times I pulled over and napped in my car because I couldn't make it home - nodding off. After a couple of hours, I still had to go straight to work. Every hike I had to pack my "life bag", which often included extra boots, gloves, clothing for double Hikes, ... and then there was my toiletries and street and work clothes for the next 1-2 day, since I may or may not be at home.

At the same point in time, that fall, this awesome and loving girl named Linda sparked my interest and our feelings for each other have grown all year into an amazing relationship. :) . She is a super-mom to her two very talented youngin's, Doloreon and Izabel, and they each make me a very happy man.

I had been living with my brother that fall (2014), but was starting to look at homes. There was this one in southern NH, a 1960 ranch with a barn on 4.5 was awesome! It was right up my alley, but, no matter what, it would take years of work inside and out. After looking at about eight other houses going into the winter months, I put in an offer. This got the wheels turning on a process that was on-going from the beginning of last winter through August 2015 when I closed on the home. The house was in a reverse mortgage short sale situation. I think It was mostly this that resulted in me not being able to post even the basic trip reports I started last summer. So during the whole 5-month home buying process, it was emails and back and forth, lots of day-to-day waiting, hoping, uncertainty, and obtaining bids for work that would be needed to make my case and support my offer on this house. I would like to give a shout out to Kevin Madigan and Berkshire Hathaway for helping me from start to finish.
The house I was after; the listing photo from the fall of 2014
4.5 acres with a barn....and lots of work to do
In April 2015, I had to hike 32 of the 4,000 footers to reach my goal of finishing the Grid come November 2015. It was the hardest month of the Grid. It was also the month where one weekend I drove with my brother down to the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee and climbed Clingman's Dome, its highest point. I was planning to go with Linda but we had to change plans, and Bill came with me. It poured rain. The rest of the days in April were spent working during the day and hiking through through the snowy and wintry nights. Yes, very snowy nights last April compared to this year. Alton remembers...Isolation at night in snowstorm, a few circles, then Owl's Head at night in the rain with ice bridges over streams breaking at our feet. Overall, hiking and life, April was a big, big storm in more ways than you think. Along with just being out there in the woods at night, many times alone, Alton and Cole were my biggest supporters in April as I pursued my goal. Perhaps this very difficult month was the reason Alton and I share a very adventurous and caring attitude for the mountains and one another.
4/11/15 - On the summit of Mt. Monroe in 90mph winds, where I aborted
a Presidential Traverse. I drove around the range, and hiked the northern Presi's the next day.
4/12/15 - Ascending Mt. Washington for a Northern Presi Traverse
4/15/15 - Sunrise from West Bond during a nighttime
36.5 mile, 9-peak Pemi Traverse
4/19/15 - Clingman's Dome summit, Highest Point in TN
with my brother.
4/22/15 - Summit of Owl's Head at 11pm, in pouring rain and sleet to Grid April
Then there is the important part of it all... my family. My beautiful niece is an aspiring dancer and gymnast. Her dance team made it to the National Championships in Disney World last June. I had never been to Florida before, so for my first time ever, I got to go to Disney World and stay in a villa for a whole week. I was in Magic Kingdom on the night of 4th of July with my family, Linda, and her two kiddos. I had finished all of my peaks for June before leaving, and had over 20 to do in July when I returned after the 4th of July. I remember too, it was a pivotal moment during the short sale process, and I remember getting a promising message while sitting poolside in the sunshine from my broker about the process, yet it still would still take another two months to finalize.
Magic Kingdom on the 4th of July 2015
Fast forward now those two months, which were spent hiking weeknights at fast paces. It's early August. After 5 months, emails and calls start gong back and forth, and me raising my offer $3,000....then a few days pass.......5 months of anxious waiting while I hike more 4000-footers under the cover of darkness to close out August. On August 14th, it all came to a close - I got the house!

I'm happy I got to balance in some boating weekends last summer on Lake Winnisquam. I got straight to work at my house demo-ing the basement, mowing my 4 acre field by hand with a cord trimmer, then by hand mower, then by ride-on mower. I also hauled every piece of wood of 2 cords to its location for my wood-burning fireplaces and stoves. This was done late at night after work by headlamp, just as my hikes were. My neighbor said I've single-handedly done more work at the home in 2 months then anyone did in the last several years.
On the boar with Linda and the kids
McGinness Family Weekend - August 2015
Mowing my field with a push mower - August 2015
Removing the old kitchen floor tile
October was another very difficult month. I had to reach 28 summits to close out the month. I completed a 14-peak Presi-Cat traverse where 12 of the peaks counted for my grid in one day hike. This was a traverse from Mt. Moriah to Mt. Jackson. I was also busy having painters paint my great room, and ripping up, and having floors put in my kitchen.
Sunset from Clay as I headed south to Mt. Washington during
a Moriah to Jackson Traverse (41.6 miles, 18,800' elevation gain, 26hrs)
The Great Room when I bought the house 
The Great Room nearly finished
It seemed, that after a year of sharing my exciting adventures, I had an increase of awesome hiking friends who were following my journey. I found myself on a few more group hikes than before, and because of that, I've accumulated some more great hiking friends, and they are all remarkable in their own ways and endeavors.

As October passed, November came. On November 8, 2015, I was incredibly fortunate to become the 59th finisher of the White Mountain Grid on Mt Eisenhower. Joining me was the best crew of hikers I could ever ask for. It was a day of celebration, one where the goal was to enjoy the outdoors and the Presidential Range. The other goal was to have fun, and that we did. It was windy and challenging as well. It makes me very, very happy that my special day was one that all who were with me won't soon forget. I strive to make all my hikes this way, whether by myself or with others.
A well deserved celebration on Mt. Eisenhower, a special moment
with great friends that will never be forgotten.
Since my Grid finish, I did not hike for almost two months. Holidays were fast approaching and so was my Grid Finish and Housewarming Party! I was busy getting as much of my homestead ready for the mass of fun friends and family in my life to see my new home and celebrate an incredible year in the mountains as I pursued this fun and challenging goal, the Grid.
Purchased a ride-on mower, vigorously cleaning up the homestead
The bonfire at my Grid Finish & Housewarming Party
As the holidays came and went, and winter set in. A group of amazing friends and I set out to take on some of the hardest single-day traverses throughout the winter. As if I was some retired adventurer, these big winter hikes were the only ones I came out for. We did a Mahoosuc Range Traverse, the first ever to be completed in one day in winter, a Presidential Range Traverse, a Great Range Traverse, and a Pemigewasset Loop. All winter, I continued to work on my home, which still kept me away from time at the computer to write about these adventures. I will never forget last winter, and I have my awesome friends to thank for capturing the experiences in their words, on their blogs. The collective commitment, endurance, dedication, and character of our group has shaped a bond that I'm sure will allow us to get together for big hikes no matter where life takes us.

The 1st ever winter Mahoosuc Traverse in under 24 hours (22hrs 30 min)
Winter Great Range Traverse - 16hrs 12 min
Full Winter Presi Traverse - 12 hours 20min
Winter Pemi Loop - 16 hours
Now a WHOLE year or so later, its May 2016, and the ice is finally giving way to dirt trails and knee-jamming rocks. Despite the lack of posts on the blog, it was certainly a wild year of non-stop adventure for me, in my life.  With that, I respectfully ask that you join me as I refresh my passion for sharing my adventures with you, here at DMOutdoors.

This special post is dedicated to all of my followers, friends, and family, and hiking friends. You have all stuck with me and my adventures, and for that I am so grateful. To put all of this into perspective, below was my schedule from the fall of 2014 to my grid finish on November 5, 2015.  As you can see, I put every ounce of my heart and soul into finishing this goal, as well as balancing all of the very important life moments that happened for me in the last year.

For anyone pursuing the White Mountain Grid, I found these quotes inspiring:

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out. ~Robert Collier

The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus. ~Bruce Lee

Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life -- think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success. ~Swami Vivekananda
Thank you!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Kinsmans & Cannon - 6/6/15

After a fun and fast mid-afternoon bush whack hike to Owls Head, I grabbed a chicken parmesan sub in Lincoln before heading on over to Lafayette Place.  I was excited to continue hiking into the night as it would be my 8th round finish on Cannon.  It was a beautiful night with warm temperatures, a breeze, and little bugs.  The Kinsmans and Cannon are my least frequented peaks, at this point in the journey for the grid, which means I'll be visiting them in each of the next few months, and will also finish 9th round on Cannon.
Lonesome Lake Trail
A nice tribute and quote to live by.
The hike up to Lonesome Lake was pretty easy going.  It's only been a couple of times now that I've gone up the Lonesome Lake Trail to start this loop.  As I walked around the pond, I read the nice quote in honor of David Copestakes, which was followed immediately by a breathtaking view of the Lafayette and Lincoln from the boardwalk at Lonesome Lake.  I walked up to the side of the hut, and could see the open door with the noise of everyone busy and chatting at dinner.  Still to this day, after passing it at least 9 times, this remains the only hut I've yet to step foot inside.  It seems fitting that perhaps in my very near future I could plan to enjoy a quick visit...perhaps at the end of a Hut-to-Hut Traverse (we'll see).  I never really stopped to ponder about going in, and kept on my way up the steep and rugged Fishin' Jimmy Trail.
Lonesome Lake Hut Entrance
Fishin' Jimmy Trail
Sunset was taking place as I approached the Kinsman Ridge and Kinsman Junction. The color was bright orange with a bunch of scattering pink, which motivated me to reach North Kinsman and enjoy a really nice evening twilight view out over Franconia Ridge.  Arriving at South Kinsman, the sun had since dipped below the horizon offering a dark landscape topped with the deep orange glow of the set sun. The Kinsmans have never been an exciting pair of peaks to bag, but on this beautiful night it was a nice scene making for one of my favorite visits.
Sunset from the Kinsman Ridge Trail
North Kinsman Summit
View from South Kinsman after Sunset
Summit of South Kinsman after sunset
After South Kinsman and the loss of light, was the rugged traverse along the Kinsman Ridge Trail and over the Cannonballs to get to Cannon. The trail was a little muddy but at all times easy to follow.  It's up and down with a lot of tough footing, but hiking at night allows a different type of focus to keep going at a fast pace.  I had one of the most interesting animal encounters along this stretch.  Wearing headphones, I stopped for about 30 seconds or more, looking down, playing with my phone, sending out a text. While doing so, I caught movement out of the top of my eye coming towards me at a pretty quick pace. My immediate reaction had me yell, "hey!", and in response, it darted in the other direction after making it to just a foot or so away from me.  Turns out, it was a little bunny running full speed at me. I was pretty startled!! Thank the heavens it was not a bobcat or mountain lion or lynx or something! After the scare, I continued on, battling the steepest parts of this section to get onto Cannon.
Kinsman Ridge Trail at night ended route to Cannonballs
It was a little bit cooler as I made my way up to the tower observation deck.  There was no one else around of course, and it was nice to complete my 8th Round atop Cannon looking down on the lights of Littleton and other nearby towns. I head over to begin my descent of the Hi-Cannon Trail, but not before taking a lovely break atop the cliff where I saw the almost full moonlight rising over Lincoln and Lafayette.  In a matter of a few more minutes, I was jogging my way down the Lonesome Lake Trail back to my car.  What a great day it was to hike Owl's Head and the Kinsmans and Cannon. After the fun day, I head over to Ferncroft, where the next morning, I'd tackle Whiteface and Passaconaway.
Nighttime lights from Cannon's summit.
8th Round Finish summit photo atop Cannon
Hi-Cannon Trail ladder at niget. 

Almost full moonlight over the ridge while descending.
Kinsmans - 9th Round
Cannon - #48 of 8th Round
Did not see another person (except the noise emanating from the hut as I passed)

Trail Conditions:
Overall there were decent conditions and no hazards that I recall.  Most of the Kinsman Ridge Trail between South Kinsman and Cannon was damp or wet, but not that bad.  The other parts, well they were pretty steep and dark, especially over the Cannonballs.
Lonesome Lake Trail 
Fishin' Jimmy Trail 
Kinsman Ridge Trail
Hike Stats
Trails: Lonesome Lake Trail, Fishin' Jimmy Trail, Kinsman Ridge Trail, Hi-Cannon Trail
Distance: 12 miles
Elevation Gain: 5,326 ft.
Actual Book Time: 5:57
Garmin Adventure Link (Upload later)