Saturday, June 29, 2013

Mt. Whitney 2012 - The Adventure (The Movie)

Hey everyone! The time is finally here, a year later, and after many many hours...The movie from me and my brother's adventure to Mt. Whitney in 2012 is now complete! In June of 2012, we climbed Mt. Whitney in California, the highest peak in the lower United States. This movie is the personal account of our adventure from start to finish. Featuring more than just Mt. Whitney, and including footage I haven't posted before, this movie will take you through our entire experience from Boston to the West coast, a visit to Las Vegas, and through just about every part of our adventure to Mt. Whitney's summit at 14,505' and then down.

I know its really long, at 1 hour and 16 minutes, but hopefully its variety leaves you wondering what's coming up next. It will sure make you laugh in the beginning in Vegas, and at the end as we go for the summit is pretty neat, but you'll be missing out on tons if you skip anything. The soundtrack you hear is pretty much the what we listened to during our adventure. If you followed my planning posts leading up the adventure and read the trip report, you'll be taken right through all of it in this movie!

If you're new to DMOutdoors, read the posts from my trip first, including the story of our adventure!

Thanks And Enjoy! And, If you think its awesome, feel free to share it! 

If at all possible, I highly suggest watching this on your TV in HD. (Parental Advisory: Two songs on the soundtrack contain explicit lyrics, and Bill at one point says "holy shit" - which pretty much sums it up!)

Don't forget to check out more of my videos on my DMOutdoors Youtube Channel.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mt. Moosilauke & Mt. Blue (4000-Footer Hike & Social Gathering) - 6/9/13

Now that summer is just about here, and we've been more or less already into it with some decent weather, that also means dodging the rain on a more regular basis. On Sunday, June 9th (a day late because of rain), I joined a big group to take part in a 4000-footer club (Facebook Group) social hike to Mt. Moosilauke. There were several groups organized, starting at multiple trail heads, and the plan was to meet at the summit, which is a favorite in the Whites, to socialize and have a chance to meet the "faces behind the pictures and the avatars" we see online. It was going to be a great hike, and with mostly everyone having completed the 48, its always fun to share and hear of others' stories.

Our group of seven picked the Beaver Brook Trail and consisted of me, my brother Bill, Allison (One, Woman, 48 4000-footers), Kimball (TrailsNH), John, Marta, and Erik. I believe that we all had never been up the Beaver Brook Trail, which is why we chose it. This was my 6th time going to the summit of Mt. Moosilauke. I was definitely pumped to be ascending by the Beaver Brook Trail, because every time I've driven through Kinsman Notch, it always looked so cool and steep. I didn't really know awesome the waterfalls were going to be and the fact that it rained the day before was a real bonus for us all.
Looking up from the Beaver Brook Trail head  
This trail IS sort of tough... 
But well worth it on a nice day with mostly dry trail conditions...
Allison fascinated by a feature of this particular waterfall
Steps on the Beaver Brook Trail 
The climb was very steady, but it was also a lot of fun for us with a nice variety of trail work, including steps, boulders, and rungs to aid in our ascent. This is just the type of stuff that everyone tends to like - climbing! After a good pace, we stopped at the Beaver Brook Shelter for a lengthy break. Here we all rather easily got into a discussion of personal experiences while hiking.
View from the Beaver Brook Shelter 
After our nice break at the shelter, we carried on, making our way to the ridge on the Beaver Brook Trail. Once there, the trail follows the ridge up a little ways up to the junction with the Benton Trail. Before that though, we started to contemplate about hitting Mt. Blue, which is a peak on the Trailwrights 72 list. We had plenty of time still before the 1pm meet time, so of course we did. My brother and I reached the summit of Mt. Blue on the last day of winter in 2011, on our first ascent of Moosilauke, going up by way of the Asquam Ridge. It was warm afternoon when we got it, but the snow was still very deep, all we saw was a circle of snow shoe tracks at the top, and now we realize...a buried canister. Although none of the others in our group had been to Mt. Blue before, the herd path was easily located by them, and we followed it up to the canister, which was a pretty cool thing to see. Here below, you have a sweet shot of a bunch of bushwhackers who are all now officially going for the Trailwrights! This could have been the highlight of the day, and it was definitely a sweet bonus to get all of our names in the register.
Mt. Blue Summit - 
After this, it was still a little ways to the junction of a slightly tricky trail. It seemed that the summit was among the passing fog, and it was quite gusty, but not a total dud, as we at times got a little glimpse of something. Never a bad day, but we were still excited to get to meet some new friends at the summit. We passed a pair who were on the way down because it was gusty and cold up there, so at this point we had learned that some had already left the summit before the 1pm meet time because of that.
From treeline on Moosilauke summit
Mt. Moosilauke, 4th summit
Mt. Moosilauke, 6th summit
The walk above treeline to the summit of Moosilauke is always a good feeling. We arrived at the summit to see a couple of dozen happy hikers, all those we chatted with and shared experiences and photos online for some time now. It was cool to be surrounded by such as group of avid hikers who who've done some amazing hikes, and also who have contributed so much to the hiking community with photography, general information, trail conditions, and more. It was awesome to meet everyone. Although it was a little crappy up on top, it was a fun time at the summit. 
Everyone greeting and conversing near the summit
The Beaver Brook Trail Group - The coolest group of the day. JK
The two next pictures show the best views we had from the summit - just a few minutes, really.

On the way down from the summit, this spruce grouse pictured below allowed all of us to gather and photograph him. Encounters with these "trail chickens" are a mixed bag. They either stand there sternly and do let you pass, come after you or startle you, or some, like this one, are friendly and aren't bothered. This one happened to do the latter and looked very pretty (or handsome) doing it. It had some cool colors on it. After the show, we let it be, and departed and continued our descent under clearing skies....of course.

At the end of the hike, we all gathered for some brews provided by Kim - Thanks! It says something when 7 avid hikers will stand around for about an hour chatting while getting eaten alive by bugs and it doesn't seem to phase anyone.  It was such a fun hike, and I think that something like this should be planned again soon. Thanks a ton to Samantha and Baha for their efforts in organizing this event with this many people.

For even more great photos and perspectives on this hike, check out the trip reports from some of the others that were a part of this event. (If I missed anyone's please send me a message.)

Moosilauke Take Three from Allison.
The Moose in June from Samantha.
Trail Conditions Report on VFTT by Mike Cherim.
Trip report from Ken M. on Hike NH (Gorge Brook Group)
A Meetup on the Moose: Mt. Moosilauke from Chris D.
Trip Report from Scott. L.

Hike Stats
Trails: Beaver Brook Trail, herd path (Mt. Blue)
Distance: 7.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,100 ft.
Actual Book Time: 7:00 (includes nearly 2 hours of break time!)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

One Day Extended Pemi Loop - 6/1/13

On Saturday, June 1st, I challenged myself to complete my 2nd One Day Extended Pemi Loop. This variation of the Pemi Loop is 38.6 miles with 10,800 feet of elevation gain, and goes over twelve of the forty-eight White Mountain 4000-footers. The "Extended Pemi Loop", I call it, adds Zealand to what is known as the "Fancy Pemi Loop" as described oin David Albeck's guide to the Pemi Loop. Certainly, doing an overnight Pemi Loop in harsh conditions with a 35+ lb pack the weekend before did wonders for me on this one with the lighter pack, but by no means was either of these adventures easy.

In order to set up myself for a hike like this, my pack is completely ready to go Thursday night, minus water and my snacks. I drank about two liters of water on Friday at work, came home cooked some stuff up on the grill, and was in bed around 6:30pm for a few hours. I woke up at 10pm on the button, drove north, and at 12:10am, I was zooming into the Pemi Wilderness on the Lincoln Woods Trail, right on schedule. There's not a whole lot of time to spare on this hike in order to get it done in a day.

I was off flying with the lighter pack, and in the blink of an eye, the Osseo Trail was behind me and hit the summit of Flume once again in the dead of night two hours from the start. The birds were already chirping in the night as I reached the ridge, a sign of a beautiful day to come. The temperature at the start (and right over the Franconia Ridge) was comfortable, with that nice layer of perspiration forming on my skin.
Approaching the summit of Flume
Summit of Flume at night
The .6 mile section between Flume and Liberty now seems so short to me. A half hour later, I was on Liberty, snapped a quick foot-on-the-summit shot, and off I went.  There's really much else to do at this point other than take a sip of water, look down on the lights in Franconia Notch, and keep going to maintain a solid time.

By doing these back-to-back Pemi Loops, I was able to even more-so stamp in mind the trail features of certain sections along this hike, like the next section on the Franconia Ridge Trail. In the winter, a heavy-leaner can block the path and confuse you, and the Franconia Ridge trail after the junction with the Liberty Springs Trail has a few twists and turns that are really good to remember, especially for the winter for that reason. Despite that thought process going on my mind, I was still cruising this nice flat section, and in three hours and about 20 minutes, I was on Little Haystack. Here, I noticed the waning crescent moon had risen in the sky behind me.
Franconia Ridge Trail and Liberty Spring Trails junction
Little Haystack summit
Here I was, once again traversing the Franconia Ridge in the moonlight, like I did at the end of April. Now, as wee hours turned into morning, the light of day started to creep in from the east. All I could think of was that there is nothing better than watching the sunrise over the Pemigewasset Wilderness, something I've seen many times now. It's such a vast view, and when you have in your mind that you're going to traverse all of it in a day, climb all of those mountains, is extremely motivating (and fun!).
Mt. Lincoln's summit cairn as I approached (look closely) 

The moon over the Pemi
Increasing in elevation, I made my way over Lincoln, North Lincoln, and up the summit cone of Mt. Lafayette, still before actual sunrise. This was my 10th ascent of Mt. Lafayette, and it was just as rewarding as last weekend and my first time. The weather was beautiful, and the blue and purpl-ish color of the morning sky over the Pemi was awesome. I arrived at the summit to find a pair of hikers with a pair of dogs and a solo hiker on the summit. One of dogs was very friendly, but had a small cut, and on request, I provided an antiseptic wipe and band-aid from my first aid kit to her owner. I stood up on the highest point for a few minutes admiring the Pemi and chatting with one of the hikers. I opened up a snickers, and before I even finished eating it, I was snacking and skipping my way down Mt. Lafayette's northern shoulder.
Mt. Lafayette summit pre-sunrise 
My 10th time to Mt. Lafayette 
A plane's trail reflects brightly off the sun above Garfield and Twins 
A final look back at the morning moon over the Pemi
Now on the Garfield Ridge Trail, it is 2.9 miles to the next summit, Mt. Garfield. This part of the hike was probably the most peaceful part of the entire day. Birds greeted me at treeline, and it seemed like the woods were waking up for the day. However, its not an easy section - there is a ton of descent over rocky and rooty trail before a quick steep climb up to Garfield. The photo below is a great shot of what it looks like looking back at Mt. Lafayette, now close to 3 miles back.
Looking up to Lafayette on the Garfield Ridge Trail
I reached the vacant summit of Garfield where I had extensive views into Pemi and a look back at my route so far that day. The skies were crystal clear and blue at this time. It was beautiful. I sat next to the summit and had a quick snack here. Mornings are always great on Garfield.
Mt. Garfield Summit 
(Left to Right) Flume, Liberty, Lincoln, Lafayette 
Pemi Wilderness (Owl's Head on Right)
After my break, I began my trek along the next 3 miles of the Garfield Ridge Trail. This is the part of the Garfield Ridge Trail that holds all of those pointless up-and-downs, and side-sloping rocks en route to the Galehead Hut. The first quick stop was at the Garfield Ridge camp site spur, where there is a water source. Although my bladder was still pulling water, my stop here was to apply the awesome cold water on my face and arms a couple of times and continue. The temperature was very warm and humid, but at this point it was not yet oppressive or affecting me - it felt so refreshing, just like mountain water always does. On I went.
Garfield Ridge Trail towards Galehead Hut 
Garfield Ridge Campsite water source
Thankfully, this section is broken up by two trail junctions, otherwise it would feel like forever. Still, not much else to do then to push for the hut, and that's what I did without stopping. I arrived at the Galehead Hut, walked right past it, and continued right up to the summit of Galehead, which I've now reached 8 times, each time a different month.
The beautiful view from AMC's Galehead Hut 
Galehead Hut with Galehead summit in background 
Big smile for being on Galehead in about 8.5 hrs from Lincoln Woods
After getting down Galehead after a few short minutes of rest on the summit, I popped into the hut where the new caretakers where getting ready for the first full service evening of the season. I had stayed here the weekend before this hike when it was not in full-service. I filled my bladder, and also filled my water bottle with a little bit and mixed a Cytomax packet in. This stuff is kind of nasty. I'll stick to Gatorade mix, I think. I just had a couple left in my food stash. I gulped on that steadily all of the way to North Twin before getting into my full 2L of water again.

The hike up to South Twin was next - .8 miles and 1,100 feet of elevation gain, one of the steepest sections on the whole Pemi Loop. It has become second nature, almost, and I no longer dread it or complain about it. I think of it as a natural stairmaster, and just program myself to keep a steady pace, doing just that, one step after another without much stopping. Before I know it, I'm passing the North Twin sign on the way out there.
North Twin Spur
North Twin - a 2.6 mile out and back with 750 feet of extra gain
Just as I skirted around the rocks of South Twin's summit, something startled me, and I turn around, and there is a rabbit just a couple of feet in front of me! He poked around looking at me, approaching me, wondering if I was going to give him some of the nutter butters I just happened to have in my hand. He didn't take the piece I threw to him, but he did hop the heck outta there and down the North Twin Spur. I could see him hopping along the trail up for 50 or so yards along the trail corridor. It was like he was going to bag North Twin too! I scurried along, wondering if I'd see him again.

I made it to North Twin's summit outlook, and took about a 10 minute break here, with my boots off (which I did about 4 times on this loop, something I've never done before). This was because I kept getting dirt and twigs in my boots. I opted to keep my low gaiters off until later when I would put them on. A young couple was kind enough to take my photo at the outlook. The photo at the top of the post is from the North Twin summit outlook. It's a beautiful view, one that puts into perspective the varying elevation of peaks on the northern part of the loop.

I hiked back up the North Twin Spur and right over South Twin again and onto the Twinway. It would be 2 relatively easy miles (after the steep descent into the trees from South Twin) to the Bondcliff junction from here. At this point in time, you have to prepare the mind for one more pretty difficult out-and-back to Zealand, in terms of mileage and gain together, before you can think that your now on more direct path to the end. Up and over Guyot, one of the coolest spots in all of the White Mountains I went. The  Twinway en route to Zealand is quite rocky and gravel-y, and doesn't make this out-and-back and easier, especially at this point along this extended loop. Nothing to do but keep going, get there, take a picture, and turn around.
The Twinway leaving South Twin summit towards the Bonds
Owls Head in the foreground with Flume, Liberty, and Lincoln in the back 
Mt. Guyot Summit 
Zealand Summit sign
That I did. Zealand was my 9th 4000-footer of the day, and with just three more now not too far away, I was feeling pretty good. My feet were starting to get real sore by the time I reached the West Bond Spur. It was here that I bumped into a big group, which consisted of several folks from the 4000 footer group on Facebook, who were doing a Zealand-Bonds Traverse. While I past them on my way out to Zealand, it was this time we acquainted. Nice to meet Monica, Joe C., Michael B., and others in that group. Both myself and this group were on the look-out for another fellow hiker, Bill R., who was also attempting a Pemi Loop, starting approximately 3 hrs after I did. This would be around the location we'd expect to bump into him, but unfortunately, his journey turned out differently (but not disappointingly). You can read his well written account of how his journey ended up, by clicking here.

After a chat with the group, I headed out to West Bond, the very last out-and-back on this journey. What a different world it was here compared to the weekend before. Instead of a socked in view with rain and iced over trees, I was treated to a nice breeze, 360 degree view of the Pemi, and the always impressive view of the Bonds ridge line. 7 times, 7 months now to West Bond, one of the most remote and challenging peaks to get to in the White Mountains.
The Bond's ridge line from West Bond summit
Now, I was officially on a one-way path to my destination. Mt. Bond was next, the highest peak left before I started to finally descend in elevation. I quickly snapped a few photos and continued down the Bondcliff Trail towards the exposed ridge. This section is another tough-go with hopping over large rocks being required all of the way until it levels out about halfway across the ridge. This is very tough on the feet at this stage of the game, but being in the presence of such dramatic landscape such as the Bonds, it kept me going - one more peak, and then I'm outta here.
Mt. Bond summit 
View from Mt. Bond 
A black and white take on the view of Bondcliff from Bond 
Heading to Boncliff 
A little more slowly now, I made my way up the last bit of elevation gain to the Bondcliff summit. I just snapped this picture below and continued on. Now with all 12 peaks successfully reached, all that was left was my descent down the Bondcliff Trail, and then a long flat walk on the Wilderness Trail and Lincoln Woods Trail. Although sore at this point, I was still able to jog some of the clear and gradual descent sections leading to the bottom of the ravine at the sharp turn. At this point, it was starting to spit rain, but that's all it did, thankfully.
Bondcliff summit 
The walk along the Wilderness Trail back to the Pemigewasset Bridge near Franconia Falls was very pleasant despite the growing soreness in my feet, of course. It's really a different world with everything grown in compared to months ago. Finally, I reached the bridge, and with my feet pretty much screaming, I decided to head to the bank of the river, and relieve my feet. I took off the boots and dipped my feet in the ice cold river and instantly they were numb! After this, I dried them off, threw on a pair of fresh dry socks, back on the boots, and now just a few more miles to go and done!
Wilderness Trail
The Lincoln Woods Trail, now, was nothing like the Wilderness Trail. Although I had put on a long-sleeved shirt, I left my pant-legs off. Whether I walked as fast as I could or even jogged or ran, both mosquitos and black flies were taking chunks out of my legs. This was completely driving me insane, but it forced me to run, power walk, run, power walk, for 3 miles until finally the A-frame sign came into view, and then finally the suspension bridge. I was done - 38.6 miles, 10,800 feet of elevation gain, 12 4000-footers in just under 20 hours, matching the longest day hike I've ever done.
Lincoln Woods suspension bridge 
The Spot Track of the Extended Pemi Loop

Completing the Extended Pemi Loop is definitely a rewarding experience. Visiting one-quarter of the 48 4000-footers in a single day, and seeing the different views from all of those points along the way is certainly memorable. I reached every summit, each out-and-back, without removing my pack, which had the Spot Messenger attached to it. It was just under 20lbs including 2L of water). In total, I drank about 6 liters of water, and had several candy bars and snacks spaced out throughout the day - nutter butters, snickers bars, Slim Jims with cheese, crackers, and the Cytomax drink. After doing a counter-clockwise overnight Pemi Loop the weekend before, and this one being a clockwise loop, I am now even more confident in my knowledge of these trails. I did all of this without even needing to consult my map (although I would never go out without one). With this hike in the books, I've added 12 June peaks to my 48x12 Grid. No longer is June the month in which I've hiked the least 4000-footers!

Thanks for reading! Stayed tuned....another milestone is coming up in two weeks as my brother and I get ready to finish the New England 4000-footers on North Brother in Maine. It will be the first time we'll finish a list together, and what better way for us brothers to finish on North Brother.

Hike Stats
Trails: Lincoln Woods Trail, Osseo Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, Frost Trail, Twinway, North Twin Spur, Bondcliff Trail, Wilderness Trail.
Distance: 38.9 mi.
Elevation Gain: 12,482 feet
Book Time: 19hrs 44min (12:10am to 7:54pm)