Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fits and starts out of Appalachia 12/6/12

Working title: I get up at the crack of "its going to be dark for hours" for this?

Peaks: None, 0, zilch, nada, bupkis

Trails: Airline, The Link, Amphibrach, Randolph Path, Valley Way, Fallsway

Mileage/time: 5.25 miles, 1700 feet of gain, book time of 3:30, actual time of 2:50

You win some, and you lose some. The plan I had set out for the day was aggressive, and I knew I would have been in trouble had I continued. Keeping summit fever to a minimum is always a wise course of action.

The alarm went off at 2:30. My brain wanted nothing to do with being awake, but I knew with the day I had planned, I needed to be. That didn't stop me from dozing off until about 3:20, when I finally got my act together, packed up the remaining bits of stuff, and headed out the door. Goals for the day: The 3 Northern Presidentials, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison. It would also be a redlining extravaganza, covering at least 10 miles of new to me trails. The cruise up to Appalachia came and went, and the eastern sky was starting to show color as I put on my boots. The lot was empty, it was lightly snowing, I could hear the wind above. I took off up the trail at 6:20, with the cold and wind enveloping me, by headlamp.

Passing the Appalachia sign now triggers memories of the half dozen or so fairly epic trips I've taken out of this lot, and here's hoping for many more. There's a pretty dense trail network layed out on the northern ridgelines of the Presidential Range, mostly maintained by the RMC, and there are a hell of a lot of places you can go. I can't wait to explore some of the lesser used trails, and the more challenging ones, King Ravine and Great Gully come to mind.

Right out of the gate, I changed my mind, though not about what I should have. I switched trails, not footwear, the latter becoming a bit of a factor. The trail choice on the other hand was just fine, instead of taking Airline to Randolph Path, I decided to take a combination of The Link and Amphibrach, as I'd be coming down Airline later in the day. The Link doesn't climb much at all in this section, and mostly parallels the road and power lines. I passed under the suspended tubing of a sap collection operation, and past the sugar shack on my right after a fashion. Stopping briefly to adjust my left boot, which felt too tight, I moved on and crossed Memorial Bridge, and hit the junction with Amphibrach.

Amphibrach is a nice piece of trail, not really steep at all, and following Cold Brook in its lower section. There was about half an inch of snow over crunchy, frozen leaves, but no real ice to speak of. My boots became more of an issue, and I ended up taking the left one off and re-situating the tongue. In the mean time, I became chilled, something with my layering system wasn't working correctly, because I was sweating rather heavily. I ended up stopping several times to mess with both boots on this section, and general lack of comfort and cold took over.

A typical section of Amphibrach
I reached the trail junction known as Pentadoi, the 5-way junction of Randolph Path, Amphibrach, and King Ravine Trail. The plan from here was to take Randolph Path to Edmands Col and on to Jefferson, but my body and feet especially had other plans. For one, I just couldn't get warm, especially on Amphibrach, every gust of wind chilled me further, no matter how much I exerted myself. My feet were really bugging me, the left one feeling too tight, and the right too loose. I stood there for a moment or two, considering my options, and the forecast. I could mess with my layers, and boots, and hope that they'd be comfortable once I got above treeline. But knowing how fickle the Northern Presidentials can be, I decided with all the factors being what they were, it was best if I didn't go above treeline today, and it would probably be in my best interest to descend.

Decision made, not without some measure of disappointment, I headed down Randolph Path, not before looking at my map and figuring out what I could redline along the way. I ended up taking a fairly direct route, but on mostly new trail sections. Fallsway was particularly nice, though a bit root-bound, and as the name suggests, there were waterfalls all along the way.

Tama Fall

Salroc Fall

Gordon Fall

Gordon Fall
It was a rather scenic finish to a failed hike, so I can take comfort in that. I had a couple of other hikes in mind that I could have done, but the way my feet felt when I got to the car, I figured it would be best to call it a day, even if it was only just after 9am!

Goal for the week: figure out my winter footwear and layering conundrum!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like not so much a failure at all... More like a bold experiment and a show of good common sense. Sounds like you still saw some beautiful trails too. The peaks will still be there...