Tuesday, January 10, 2012

DMOutdoors - Top 10 Moments of 2011

2011 was full of awesome hikes, accomplishments and special moments. It's impossible to fit all of the great moments into this post, but I wrestled with this list for a while, changed it a few times, but here it is...the DMOutdoors Top Ten Moments of 2011. 
We picked up some MSR Ascent Lightning snowshoes and set off for the Osceola's on my quest for the 48. We were rookies then. The hike took us well over 10hrs, and it snowed from dawn to darkness, and we battled -30 wind chills and frigid temps. We climbed the by-pass in snowshoes for the first time. We couldn't have our gloves off at all, it was tough, What the heck did I get myself into? Bill even slid 15 feet on a sheet of ice at a steep grade and nearly went flying off the mountain. The snow was beautiful shimmering in our headlamps though, so that was enough to keep hiking that year.
One of the most epic photos of Bill in winter.

On July 4th weekend in 2011, we set off for a traverse of the Wildcats, Carters, and Moriah. This is a strenuous traverse, and we planned to camp halfway. After descending Wildcat to Carter Notch, then up Carter Dome, we were spent, and Zeta Pass was the ideal spot, however signs prevent camping there. We walked towards Middle Carter and then bushwhacked into the woods towards the east, well beyond the trail and through the pass. We set up our 3-hammock camp early in the afternoon, relaxed, and even took a nap before dinner. We ate our meals, drank some Glenlivet, and were in our hammocks drifting away as we saw the light fading through the trees. Well into the woods, no one knew we were there. This was a great overnight hike, and was the second time ever camping out in the White Mountains.
Our three hammock setup with two rain flys
Nice sunrise view from the hammock on the Carter Range
8. Jackson & Webster on September 11th for Flags on the 48 Day
Me, my brother, and seven year-old (at the time) niece Kiara set off for Webster and Jackson, with a special trip planned to search for my long lost camera from the spring. In addition,  we got to see the flag at the summit for Flags on the 48. The views were tremendous and Kiara hiked the fairly rugged trail like it was nothing, and it was an overall great day (except for not finding my camera). Kiara hiked two 4000 footers in 2011 and was a companion on both me and my brother's Quest's for the 48! I know my brother enjoyed this one too, so it makes the top 10 no problem.
Lookin' out from Jackson
Remembering 9/11 above 4000' with my niece - we brought flags too!
7. Bushwhackin' Bill leads us to Owl's Head
I successfully did a Black Pond Bushwhack in July of 2011, and in September, my brother needed the Owl's Head, so it was his turn to lead the way with the map and compass. He lead the way perfectly to the campsite, and on the way back, successfully came out, as hoped, at the "End of Trail" sign to Franconia Falls. Along the bushwhack, we saw an awesome spot we'd like to go back to. Bill's bushwhackin' skills had us feeling real confident after this one, and the scenery and sense of remoteness was spectacular.
Bill checks the bearin', no pressure
One of my favorite pictures of me lookin' like a wilderness maniac
Did we really just end up at the sign perfectly?
Feelin' pretty accomplished and confident at this point
6. Standing on Bondcliff
Standing on Bondcliff is one of the highlights of hiking the 48. Bondcliff is one of the most remote peaks in the White Mountains, and its cliff is pretty impressive to say the least. A fall from it would mean certain injury and or death, but its beauty pulls most to stand atop it. I stood on the cliff twice on our hike of the Bonds in July and once solo in September. I've also walked up to it at 5am in pitch blackness with some light blowing snow! (1:30 of this video)Its overall insanity factor puts this 2011 "moment" in the middle of the pack at number 6.

Bill on Bondcliff in the morning
Me on Bondcliff in the afternoon
5. Ascending Mt. Lafayette in February
On President's Day, February 2011, a wind chill advisory was up for the day, and the average wind speed on Mt. Washington was 64mph. It was snowing hard at the start and it was deep from the get-go at Old Bridle Path. There was blowing snow as I rounded the steep ridge of Walker Ravine on the way towards the hut. As I broke from the trees, and strong winds blew at my back as I ascended the cone of Lafayette, requiring me to go to all fours a few times. Although it only lasted about 20-30 minutes, it was the heaviest wind and most exposure that I had experienced to date at the time. After Lafayette, the winds let up considerably, but it was still a thrill until I was back in the trees. A small strip of exposed skin missed by balaclava shed from my cheek the next day.
Lafayette, toughest time the first time
The ridge that day
4. Hiking the Grafton Loop Trail
This incredible 40-mile overnight hike was one that was not so easily overshadowed by my New Hampshire endeavors in 2011, which is why it makes number 4 on the top ten. This trail, which links with the AT for a small portion has some of the most beautiful stretches of trail I have ever hiked. I battled Old Speck, Sunday River Whitecap, Puzzle Mountain, Long Mountain, East Baldpate, West Baldpate, thick overgrown trail, beautiful streams, incredible ledges and views. The list is endless, the memory of it endless...I will be back here.
Am I in Avatar??
Old Speck Summit, my only Maine 4000 footer in 2011
Grafton Notch wilderness maniac again
This was my tent site, down the hill from the trail
On Long Mountain - worth the side trip to the summit
E. Baldpate - had one of the most impressive 360 degree views ever

3. Reaching the summit of Mt. Washington in winter, on New Year's Eve 2011
If anyone didn't take notice, my hikes of Mt. Washington in October and November 2011 were mainly practice and scouting for my planned hike on New Year's Eve 2011. It turns out that the winter route was still closed, so all the better, it was my third time up the summer Lion's Head Trail in 3 months. Having hiked over 90 mountains in 2011, this was a pretty easy hike. With my friends Mike and Nicole, we cruised with ease to top using my new crampons and ice axe. I was on the summit of Mt. Monadnock for the end of 2010, and early on, I was planning this to end my first year of hiking. It was my first winter ascent of Mt. Washington, and already the sixth time I had claimed the summit.
Low visibility once after Lion Head
Me approaching on the summit cone
Mt. Washington - New Year's Eve 2011
2. Franconia Ridge Christmas Completion: My brother's completion of the 48
This hike over the 4 Franconia Ridge peaks to complete my brother's 48 on Mt. Lafayette remains one of the most spectacular hikes we've done together. We survived the Flume Slide Trail ascent (really fun), and approached Flume in dense fog and blowing snow. We were tested above treeline, and had to break the Franconia Ridge Trail towards Lafayette. Above treeline, we were treated to some of the most spectacular views featuring a setting sun and waves of undercast. It was unlike anything else we have ever witnessed. Oh wait, and then we saw the Earthshine crescent moon and Venus, and that too was unlike anything we ever saw. Bill had managed to also successfully complete the 48 in less than a year. This hike will always have a special meaning to both of us, especially him, so it made #2 in 2011.
Ascending to Flume
Liberty for us all

Mt. Washington as seen from between Lincoln and Lafayette
Bill on Mt. Lafayette, 48th peak
1. Moonlight Presidential Traverse to complete the 48 on Mt. Monroe
It's very difficult to say that this hike was better than any of the others in 2011. It is ranked at #1 in 2011 not just because it was my finish of the 48, but mainly because of the difficulty and the amazing moments that were a part of it. I had never done a Presi Traverse before, never mind one in the moonlight. So many things went into the planning of this hike. It was winter, and I was just a few hikes into my quest, when I had it planned that I would actually finish in just 7 months with a Moonlight Presidential Traverse.  On Saturday, August 13, 2011 there was to be a full moon. As the date got closer, I learned it was the peak of the Perseid Meteor showers, AND then I learned that the space shuttle would be visible as it passed by around 9:15pm. Before we even started, we had all this awesome stuff to anticipate, and were just hoping and praying for good weather. While this hike was a tremendous challenge, looking back, my brother and I executed this amazingly considering our experience (and of course, we were lucky ducks with the weather - every presidential traverse is lucky). Standing on Mt. Washington's summit with the full moon and sunrise at the same time continues to leave me speechless. The joy and happiness within me as I approached an alpen-glow capped Mt. Monroe for #48 remains indescribable.
Into the traverse between Madison and Adams

Mt. Washington, very early sunrise on my left
Mt. Washington, a perfect full moon on my right
And over here we have more jaw dropping sunrise
47 down, one more to go, and its glowing...
A great feeling, an unforgettable hike
Thanks for reading everyone!




  1. Totally awesome Dan & Bill! My Mom would think your adventures are just amazing! Good luck on your 2012 goals!


  2. Dan and Bill you both are just cool! I envy all of your adventures! More to see on 2012 from you! All the best!

  3. What a fantastic year you had! Great collection of pictures!

  4. Thank you Patricia! I'm sad its over. I have a tough time choosing where to hike now. Good luck to you and the girls in 2012!