Sunday, June 30, 2013

Success and Moriah 6/29/13

Working title: Success?!?

Mother nature, you're so fickle. Thursday night into Friday brought heavy rains to Portland, and sound of hundreds of rain drops, pounding on the air conditioner, filled my room. There was a plan in place to play disc golf on Friday afternoon, and when the appointed time came, it had just stopped raining. However, where we were playing, wasn't in Portland. On the way, it of course started to rain again, and heavily. To kill some time, we went to a bar in Richmond, The Old Goat, because what good disc golf outing doesn't involve beer? To make a long story short, we played two rounds in the fog and drizzle (and had a lot of fun doing it), before returning to Portland to drop my friend off.

After drying out a bit, and packing up, I drove to Oxford, where another friend was having a party. I didn't stay long, as they'd already tapped out one of the kegs, and were working fervently on the second. Besides, isn't this supposed to be about hiking? From the party, I drove to Berlin, and made the turn onto Success Pond Road. I easily found the trailhead for Success Trail, and then set myself up for a very uncomfortable nights sleep (see: a few hours) in the passenger seat of my car.

Hike #1: Mt. Success

Trails: Success Trail, Outlook Loop, Mahoosuc Trail

Mileage/time: ~6.4 miles, ~2073 feet of gain, book time of 4:15, actual time of 2:40

The alarm on my phone went off at ten minutes after 5, but I was already awake. Rain during the night had woken me up several times, and no matter how I contorted my body, I could not get comfortable. I changed up, and awaited the arrival of my partner for the day, Bill Cronin. He's a fellow Grid hiker/redliner/peakbagger, who had contacted me a month ago, after I had bailed on summiting Success from the south. This was the day we had planned on. In my rush on Friday, I managed not to forget my camera, however, I did manage to leave the SD card in my computer. There's some weight I wouldn't have to lug up the mountain, unfortunately, I only have a few crappy cell phone pictures from the day. It's going to be text heavy.

Bill arrived as he said he would, we exchanged greetings, and set off up the trail at 5:30. Success Trail leaves from the right side of a grassy log landing, marked with a white sign that points in both directions. Pay no attention to the sign, just follow the path into the woods, and the trail becomes readily apparent. Drips and drops, the pitter-patter of sky-born water filled the green woods around us. The trail was damp, and the rocks slick as we ascended the first easy sections, warming up quickly. Not far in, Bill stopped and pointed ahead, a moose was up on the trail in front of us. We'd see it a couple more times as it ranged along the corridor, along with the tracks of its brethren. The grade started to steepen as we neared the Outlook loop, with dangerously slick rock faces, deep mud, and evil bog bridges. In retrospect, we should have taken the loop on the way down, but that just means I'll have to come back. Along the western portion of the loop, I found a bucket hanging from a tree.

A bucket for monsieur
The Outlook presented us with gusty winds from the south, with lashings of clouds. Nothing to see here. I've heard that it's a spectacular viewpoint, just not today. Returning to the trail, the rain came. It was never heavy, but I put on my pack cover anyway, even though everything was probably damp by that point. More slick bog bridges, and wet rock were in store, and we soon came out at the junction with the Mahoosuc Trail. It was 0.6 miles to the summit, and boy was the trail rough. There were several sections with steep ups and downs, with wet rock and root ruling the scene. I can only imagine hauling a heavy pack through this, the Mahoosucs are rugged! Coming at the peak from the north, you only get above the trees for a moment or two before hitting the summit. We could see bog bridging heading south through the mist, but did not follow. Another New Hampshire 100 Highest and 52 With a (dubious) View peak off the list! My phone didn't want to cooperate in the dampness, so no summit picture.

Descent was a repeat of the ascent, without the Outlook loop. We carefully picked our way along, avoiding mud, shuffling along bog bridging, and praying we didn't slip off the rocks. Even with the adverse conditions, we fairly killed this one. We could see through the trees, there was an undercast in the valley to our west as we descended, curses to my memory card! Once back at the cars, we discussed our plan for the "afternoon", even though it was only just after 8. Instead of doing a loop over Moriah and Shelburne Moriah, we opted for an up and back on Stony Brook Trail. Back on the road, myself barefoot to dry out my feet, we headed for Gorham.

Hike #2: Mt. Moriah

Trails: Stony Brook Trail, Carter-Moriah Trail, Mt. Moriah Spur

Mileage/time: 10.1 miles, 3426 feet of gain, book time of 6:47, actual time of 5:16

After driving back out to Berlin, passing several vehicles on their way in on Success Pond Road, we arrived at the Stony Brook Trailhead. Changing into a dry shirt, socks, and shoes (!!!), we got on trail at 9:04. We expected to run into someone along the way, as there were two other vehicles in the lot. The skies were starting to show some blue spots as we drove in, and the sun came out at times, making the woods quite warm as we climbed. This was the first time that I've ascended this trail during the daytime, in non-winter conditions, and it was pretty great. Very easy grades in the early going, and moderately steep heading up toward the ridge. Bill had dunked a boot on the crossing, and we stopped so he could wring out his sock. The climb resumed, and in what felt like no time at all, we were on the ridge! Having the signage not at ankle level was a nice change of pace. It's amazing to see how tall the signs actually are, and knowing they were basically buried a few months ago is humbling. Nature is awesome.

The ledges leading up to Moriah were slick, and we took care to ascend them. We stopped on a dry section so I could mess with one of my shoes,  clouds were racing through the Imp/Moriah col from the east, and we started to get some views, however fleeting.

It was here that I was introduced to bacon jerky. Food of the gods? I think so. Some more slick bog bridging, areas of ponded water, and more wet rocky areas later, we reached the junction with Kenduskeag Trail, and the scramble up to the summit. Just below the summit, Bill saw an American flag next to the trail. There was a card attached to it with information on it, about an Armed Services member who was killed in Iraq. The other side had further information from the man who placed the flag, a disabled veteran who is hiking the 4000 footers this summer to commemorate those from New Hampshire killed in Iraq. Very cool.

RIP Sgt. Randy S. Rosenberg
The summit was fogged in when we arrived, so we tagged it and left. Just as we reached the first of the ledges on the descent, the sun came out, and stayed out for most of our descent. The ledges started to dry out, making the task of getting down them much easier. Great views opened up to the south and west, though everything to the east was still pretty socked in.

Just before the Stony Brook junction, we ran into the first people of the day, going where we had just been. Hopefully they had views! The rocks on Stony Brook continued to be slick, the sun just not being able to penetrate the canopy enough. We still made good time, and I stopped to filter some water at a small trailside cascade. Mountain water is delicious. The rest of the descent was uneventful, we passed another couple on their way up, and saw several groups with dogs on the lower stretches of trail, near the brook. Once we arrived at the cars, we could see dark clouds building in the notch, and were glad to be off the trail.

Our shortened itinerary, and speedy hiking, made it so Bill could get home to have dinner with his wife, which I'm sure she appreciated! We parted ways, with plans to hike again very soon. He also provide me with a list of the New Hampshire 100 Highest (which I couldn't seem to find an official list of), and on checking it out, I've done 64! Another list to add to the... ugh... list?

Thanks for a great day Bill!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Arethusa Falls/Frankenstein Cliff 6/27/13

Working title: "How neat is that?"

Peaks: None

Trails: Arethusa Falls Trail, Bemis Brook Trail, Arethusa-Ripley Falls Trail, Frankenstein Cliff Trail

Mileage/time: 5 miles, 2055 feet of gain, book time of 3:31, actual time of 3:45

After last week, I needed something light. My body doth protest too much, with good reason, I've been hard at it, and haven't given it a break! Some longboarding yesterday, followed by beers, led to me taking an impromptu three hour afternoon nap, and after a fashion, a fine nights sleep. I need all I can get after last Wednesday! Today dawned, foggy and cool here on the coast, the hills of Portland were enveloped. After snagging breakfast, I headed up to meet Heather, who would be joining me for this excursion. Originally, we'd planned to get supplies for a picnic of sorts, but the general sogginess lead us to consider just hiking, with lunch afterwards.

Heather drove, which was a nice change of pace for me, that's twice in the last month that I haven't had to drive... something must be wrong! We rolled north in her orange box (a Honda Element, heretofore referred to as Heather's Box), which I'll admit, was very comfortable. The weather started to take a turn for the better, sun was peeking through, and there were glimpses of blue sky, though the cloud ceiling remained relatively low. We pulled off of 302, and parked in the lower lot, planning on making a loop up to the falls, and over Frankenstein Cliff, which lorded over the lot.

Suiting up, or it my case, suiting down, we rolled up the road to the trailhead. About 0.1 up the trail, we reached the junction with Bemis Brook Trail, and I'm so glad we took it. The trail runs alongside its namesake, Bemis Brook, and there were several short herd paths along its length that led down to the brook. Several picturesque scenes presented themselves, along with Coliseum Falls near the top.

Coliseum Falls
From the falls, the trail bore to the right, and the grade sharpened significantly, as it climbed to reconnect with the Arethusa Falls Trail. Heather cursed a few times about her generally being out of shape, but she made it just fine, we were both sweaty messes anyway. The climb towards the main attraction resumed, and some trailside fungi caught her eye... I'm glad she was there, because I wouldn't have noticed them!

Crossing two bridges, we reached the junction, and descended to the base of the falls. What's purported to be the highest single drop in New Hampshire (it's actually the second, Dryad Fall is significantly larger) didn't disappoint, and its popularity was evident by the several groups there on this humid Thursday morning.

More groups arrived, while the natural air conditioning provided by the falls was nice, we had a timetable, and decided to push on to Frankenstein Cliff. A bit of a slog confronted us once back at the junction, never really steep, just relentless, up to the junction with Frankenstein Cliff Trail. Sweating badly, but still laughing, we traversed over towards the cliff, passing through some open areas with masses of ferns. The green was intense! There was a sign for a view spur, but the unmarked trail didn't lead us anywhere, except through some moose poo.

Heather had been hearing things. There were birds singing all over the place, and I'm admittedly not good with recognizing them, or other flora and fauna for that matter. She thought she had heard a Hermit Thrush at several points throughout the hike, and she finally heard it clearly. It's awesome hiking with someone that knows about things that I haven't the foggiest about. The spur for Falcon Cliff came upon us, and we decided, for the sake of time, to skip it. We soon came out on top of Frankenstein Cliff itself, and while the cloud ceiling hung low, there were decent views to the south and east, encompassing the southern Montalban Ridge, and lording over 302 and the Saco River, winding their way south.

"Hey Heather, I see your box down there..."
It had started to drizzle, and just as another group popped out on top of the cliff, we set off back into the woods. Up until this point, both our bodies had dealt well with the hike, Heather's ankle, and my left knee. Now the steep descent off of the cliff took its toll. My knee didn't like it, and neither did Heather's ankle. We set our jaws, and made it happen, still talking and laughing all the way. There were a couple of signs indicating the trail, right above blazes... like we needed further direction. There were some interesting fungi growing here and there, and we stopped to check out all of them, before descending further to the Frankenstein Trestle. There was a sign indicating that there was ongoing work to the trestle, and a covered walkway of sorts prevented creosote from dripping on you as you went under. This part was just nasty, lots of creosote covered rocks underneath, a sad state of "progress".

The rest of the trail undulated, in the woods alongside the tracks, about 20-30 vertical feet below them. We came upon a couple of neat trees, one that looked as if some Pileated Woodpeckers had a field day with it, though they created a spiral up the length of the trunk. The other was in the process of being worked on by Carpenter Ants, and they had left a large amount of detritus down at the base of its trunk. We soon arrived back at Heather's Box, with enough time to get some lunch, as we were both starving!

Lunch was had at the Moat, along with a beer for each of us, can't quit the Tripel! We then proceeded back to Naples, to my waiting car. Making it back on time, her sister was waiting to pick her up, and go with her to Portland. Thanks Heather, for a fantastic, if short, day in the mountains!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hibbard/Square Ledge et al. 6/21/13

Working title: The longest day

Peaks: Mt. Wonalancet, Hibbard Mountain, Nanamocomuck Peak, Square Ledge

Trails: Old Mast Road, Wonalancet Range Trail, Walden Trail, Square Ledge Trail

Mileage/time: 9.3 miles, 3854 feet of gain, book time of 6:36, actual time of 6:00

Solstice day, the longest day of the year, ushering in the dog days of summer. While I like summer, I have trouble properly explaining myself in the heat and humidity, that our humid continental climate provides. Sometimes the mountains provide refuge, and welcome cool breezes, but sometimes, there's no hiding from it. That, I'm sure, will be a story for the not so distant future, as this day proved to be comfortable.

After losing a lot of much needed sleep on Wednesday, and not getting anywhere near enough to make up the deficit on Thursday, Friday morning came too soon. But I had a hike to lead! I set off for Ferncroft, under cloudy skies, though at least peaks were visible as I drove up 113. Having been to Ferncroft a handful of times, I used my GPS, and in its wisdom, it sent me down a dirt road. I'm glad it did, because I never would have seen this view.

Whiteface and Passaconaway
A local resident stopped while I was taking the picture, and asked if I had seen the moose. Apparently, there's a moose that crosses that road at about the same time every morning, going from the pond on one side, to the bogs in the woods on the other. Sadly, Bullwinkle had not made an appearance for me. Another good thing to come of this dirt detour, is that I now know where the trailhead for the Liberty and Brook trails up Mt. Chocorua is!

Once arriving at Ferncroft, I readied myself, and awaited my three companions for the day, Elena, Dominic, and Mike. I hadn't hike with Elena since Garfield in April, and had never met Dominic before. The big field at Ferncroft wasn't full of flowers per se, but there were some in bloom.

Once we had grouped up, and were just about to head off, I realized that the strap for my camera bag was broken. Instead of trying to fix it, I attached the bag directly to my pack, and called it good. We set off up the Old Mast Road, which was used by the British to haul timber out of these woods, for use as ship masts. It was wide and gentle, and shortly, we turned on to the Wonalancet Range Trail. The trail doesn't muck around, occasionally slabbing, but mostly just going for it, as it climbs towards its namesake, Mt. Wonalancet. There is a nice ledge along the way, giving us views south towards Ossipee Lake, and east towards Paugus and Chocorua.

The sky continued to be overcast, which was a blessing, as we were all fairly warm from the climb. This also helped to keep the bugs at bay, and they turned out to not be that bad throughout the day. We passed uneventfully over the wooded, unmarked summit of Mt. Wonalancet, and continued onward towards Hibbard Mountain, a peak on the 52 With A View list. Along the way, we passed through a particularly lush, beautiful section, along the Wonalancet Range Trail.

The short climb up to Hibbard commenced, and we soon found ourselves at a small view ledge near the summit, with views back to Mt. Wonalancet, and out over the valley.

The clouds were starting to break up, and we soon crested the summit of Hibbard, where the views were less than spectacular. Is it time to de-list this peak? I'd say yes. The only decent view I could get, was by standing on a rock at the summit, and even then, it was pretty obstructed.

Moving on, we climbed over another unnamed bump, and reached the junction with the Walden Trail. I found one thing out about this trail, no matter what section you're on, it's steep! We dropped down, steeply, to a fern filled col, and our thinking was that we might just go right up the other side. Nope, we dropped a bit more, and circled around the base of Nanamocomuck Peak. Then came the steepness. Use those hands, and pull yourself up the rocks and roots. I personally love steep trails, and this one was no exception. We topped out on the unmarked, viewless, Nanamocomuck Peak, and stopped for lunch.

After lunch, we shortly reached the junction with Square Ledge Trail, and began to scrub all that elevation that we just gained. We reached the slide alongside the trail, and Mike and I scrambled up to get some views.

Presidentials and Carters, with Hedgehog in the foreground

Passaconaway looming above

We passed a couple with their dogs shortly before the Passaconaway Cut-off junction, and then started back up. Now I'm not sure we ever actually reached Square Ledge. After passing some cliffy bands, we reached the highpoint on the trail, and when it started going down again, we questioned it. Backtracking, I saw somewhat of a path, more of a bushwhack, that led out to a small view ledge.

Not terrible, but not especially view laden. No worries, Paugus was sure not to disappoint. Dropping off the high point, we descended steeply next to the reddish walls of the ledge itself, impressive.

At a clear, running stream, right near the junction with the Square Ledge Branch Trail, I figured now was as good a time as any to filter some water. While I was doing so, Dominic told me he was tired, and that he wouldn't mind waiting at the junction with Old Mast Road, while the rest of us went up and back to Paugus. I told him that we'd discuss it when we got that far, another 1.1 miles distant. The reality was, I made up my mind about halfway there, if he didn't think he could do it, we'd descend as a group from the junction. The mountain will be there another day, unless they move it on me. The Square Ledge Trail became very brushy, with foliage nearly obscuring the footbed in places. There was also deep mud, and plentiful blowdowns to navigate.

Once we reached Old Mast Road, it was pretty much all downhill. It starts off fairly narrow, and soon widens, becoming much more roadlike. The sun had come out by this point, and lit up the deciduous woods.

We popped out of the woods exactly 6 hours after we started, and I spied a car at the other end of the lot, that looked vaguely familiar to me. While walking down there to check out the plates (which would be a dead giveaway as to who it was), a truck pulled in. I immediately recognized the man as Hiker Ed Hawkins! I had met him for the first time on 12/3/2011, the day Bob (Wolfgang) completed his grid on Jefferson. He asked us if we wanted a PBR, which Mike and Elena agreed to. Myself, I'd been carrying a 22 oz bottle of White Birch Tripel in my pack for these last two hikes, and it needed to be gone. We chatted with Ed for a good hour, and just before we left, we were able to congratulate Grid finisher #38, Mike Innis (sp?), along with this hiking partner and dog.

Smoked meats were calling, so Mike and I took off to the Yankee Smokehouse. The others would have joined us, but unfortunately Elena and Dominic had to get back to Boston. A delicious meal was had, and I trucked it back to Portland.

Speaking of that red car. It wasn't who I thought it was, but I saw a post on the Facebook from my friend Xar, that she was looking for someone to run on Back Cove that evening. I texted her, saying I was into it. We missed seeing each other on Washington last Saturday (she ran the road race), when my group didn't make the summit, and it had been too damn long.

The sun was just setting, on this, the longest day of the year, when I pulled in. Of course I didn't have my actual camera, so this cell phone picture will have to suffice.

Xar pulled in, got ready, and we set off clockwise around the bay. Color drained from the sky, as we updated each other about our lives since we last saw each other, which was in November last year! By the time we neared the bridge, the moonlight was shimmering off the surface of the bay, lending a special atmosphere to the run. At this point, we walked a bit, then ran, almost to the end, when I got a nice side cramp. We decided that it had been too damn long since we had seen each other, much less done anything, and that we needed to keep the time-frame reasonable, like a month, instead of six. I won't say that it didn't leave me exhausted, but it felt good for the most part, and it might just become a Wednesday thing.

So here's to the longest day of the year, may they get shorter from here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Twins/Zealand/Hale 6/19/13

Working title: I'm not being a Negative Nancy, I'm Realist Randy

Peaks: North Twin, South Twin, Mt. Guyot, Zealand Mountain, Mt. Hale

Trails: North Twin Trail, North Twin Spur, Twinway, Lend-A-Hand Trail, Hale Brook Trail

Mileage/time: 17 miles, 5723 feet of gain, book time of 11:19, actual time of 11:14 (for me)

"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history" ~ Aldous Huxley

Believe me, I'm one of them, but I'm trying. I've been very mindful of this quote recently, and it's helped keep me focused on making solid life decisions, instead of giving in to what feels comfortable, and giving in to what feels right.

So instead of doing something about my Wednesday conundrum, I decided I'd hike. Jes had posted that she was hiking a Hale/Zealand/Twins loop with her son and a girl named Heather (from Maine!), involving the old Firewardens Trail. I thought they were going up the abandoned trail, so I planned on meeting up with them on South Twin, and joining them for their descent. There was some misunderstanding, as they were planning on going down the Firewardens, but I'll get to that.

I don't think I've ever started this big of a hike (or what turned into this big of a hike) so late in the day. Work ran until 6 Wednesday morning, I had breakfast with my friend and co-worker Heather (different Heather), ran some errands, and got myself on the road. Battling traffic the whole way, I pulled into the full lot at the North Twin trailhead around 10:35, and parked on the side of the road. Changing, I mustered up all the energy I had, as I had a goal. Reach the summit of South Twin in 3 hours from the lot. The time was 10:56.

The lower portion of the trail follows along the river, and is pleasant, with a soft footbed. There was a Time Warner Cable truck parked in the lot, and not far from the trailhead, I saw its driver coming down the trail. I asked him if he was installing cable on the summit so we could watch the Bruins game, he chuckled and went on his way. I took the bypass for the first two crossings, and saw the start of the Hale Firewardens Trail, hoping (erroneously) that my group had found it earlier in the morning. There were some nice on trail, and trailside scenes to behold along this section.

Reaching the third crossing, I managed to rock hop it, only getting the very bottom of my shoes wet, and then came the relentless climb up the ridge to North Twin. It really isn't that bad, never incredibly steep, and has some flatter sections to give the legs a break. But there are a couple of sections that are a slog, no real getting around it, you're climbing a mountain! There were a couple of blowdowns to be stepped over and ducked under, but nothing major.

After passing a large AMC group on the way down, I made a break towards the summit. Views opened up to the east, with the Presidentials looming over Mt. Hale, and the (you're a) Nancy Range peaks over Zealand.

Upon reaching the view spur and the true summit, I ran into a backpacker (I didn't get his name), and a guy from Boston named Jamie enjoying the views.

Jamie, and one other person I passed on the North Twin Spur indicated that my group was ahead of me, leading me to believe that they had missed the turn for the Firewardens Trail. That spurred me on to reach the summit even more quickly. Just as I broke treeline, I recognized Jes, then saw her son, and Heather (who I'd only seen a picture of). I rock hopped up to the summit and tagged it before joining up with them. The time was 1:36. 2 hours and 40 minutes, for 5.6 miles and 3453 feet of gain, versus book time of 4:31... all after having worked the previous night, and not sleeping. Killed it! I won't lie, I was beaming. Now I turned to the group. We hung around on the summit for a while, chatting, and providing some amusement for the two backpackers on the summit, on day three of their five day journey in and around the Pemi.

We soon set off down the Twinway towards Mt. Guyot, with laughter and inappropriate comments filling the air. This section of the Twinway is beautiful, and I was happy that the group pace was slow, giving me time to enjoy it, and look around. No pictures would do it justice. After a while of descending, we began to climb moderately, breaking treeline again just before the Bondcliff Trail junction.

The Bonds called to me, but I'll be back, hopefully next week. We then took in the views from the true summit of Guyot, which is not at the big cairn on Bondcliff Trail, as I previously believed.

Ducking back into the trees on the other side of Guyot, we soon ran into a Spruce Grouse on the trail, and I was designated as the blocker. I managed to get a picture of it, but the closer I got, the more it ran away... I can't imagine why. Oh the limitations of having only prime lenses.

Fowl dealt with (it ran off into the brush), we descended into the Zealand-Guyot col, and went up the other side. I remember it being steeper for some reason, then realized that it was because I was coming from the Bonds the other two times I'd been on this section, perspective is a funny thing. Soon we found ourselves at the spur trail, and then at the true summit of Zealand, with its wonderful sign.

We soon stopped on the ledge just above the ladder on the Twinway, and took a break. There were some decent views from here, north to Hale, and more filtered views south towards the Carrigain Notch area.

Working our way across the ridge, past wildflowers in bloom, we reached Zeacliff, and its spectacular outlook. It's easily one of my top ten places in the White Mountains.

Descending to the hut on rock and root, we got a chance to refill our water, and eat a bit before heading up to Hale. Dinner was being served, and unfortunately, one of the Croo was less than polite to Jes' son Greg, who was just trying to buy a candy bar. He was wearing a blue sequined mini-skirt, so there's that.

I finally got a chance to hike the Lend-A-Hand Trail without snow on it, and while it was wet and sometimes muddy, it was much more of a joy to be on. Though for the third time, it was at the end of a long day. Along the way, there is a nice ledgy area, where the waxing moon was in full view, high above the Zealand Ridge.

The light faded as we climbed, and the sun was down by the time we hit Hale. In the remaining light, I checked out the entrance to the Firewardens Trail, which was brushy at the start, with a recognizable trough of a footbed. About 40 yards in, I reached a T, there seemed to be trails going to left and the right, I'm unsure which was the actual trail (I'm leaning to the right), and will have to come up from the bottom sometime to find out. We layered up, as it was getting cold fast in the twilight, and got out headlamps. Greg's headlamp didn't have any batteries in it, and for some reason, I didn't have spares... where did they get to?!? Jes called her friend Tere who lives nearby, to see if she could pick us up at Hale Brook Trailhead, instead of us trying to descend, and likely getting lost on the Firewardens. A ride secured, we started down.

Rather uneventfully, we made our way, Greg following between myself and Jes, trying to match my footsteps. After a couple blowdowns, and two easy stream crossings, the trail started to flatten out, and we were shortly greeted by Tere, who had bought bottles of water for each of us. How nice of her! She shuttled us to the North Twin Trailhead, and we all made our preparations to leave. Saying our goodbyes, now began the hardest part of my day, staying awake for the drive. It wasn't easy, though I had some caffeinated help, but I made it home in one piece, and promptly crashed, hard. I feel good today, but definitely worn down, it's going to be an early night tonight.

Thanks to Jes, Heather, and Greg for having me along today, and thanks for the fantastic company. Also congratulations to Jes for putting #'s 38-40 in the books, and for Greg getting #'s 17-20. Keep up the awesome work! Also, a thousand thanks to Tere for helping us out in our time of need!