Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cave Mountain and some winter redlining 1/21/14

Working title: Respiratory Refuse

Peak: Cave Mountain

Trails: Mt. Langdon Trail, Cave Mountain Path, bushwhack

Mileage/time: ~6 miles, 2263' of gain, book time of 4:10, actual time of 3:20

The cold I came down with just after New Years, sure did a number on my lungs. They haven't been the same! Today, I had grand plans... to revisit the Tripyramids. But my general feeling of not-so-well-being led to plan readjustments. I needed to redline the rest of the Mt. Langdon Trail, so I figured I'd hit Mt. Parker. That's not exactly what happened.

From the trailhead on River Street in Bartlett, where there's only room for a car or two, the trail climbs on a wide old logging road. The temperatures were in the single digits, but the sun was out, and I warmed up quickly. Right off the bat, my lungs didn't cooperate, and I found myself struggling for breath. Undeterred, I hung a left on Cave Mountain Path, and climbed up to its namesake cave and the south facing ledges above it.

The tracks I'd been following disappeared, and I took off for an impromptu bushwhack to the true summit of Cave Mountain. It's wooded, and viewless, but it was RIGHT there (about 0.1). Descending the way I came, I kept on heading up the Mt. Langdon Trail. Many old roads crossed the trail in the lower section, and ski tracks adorned most of them. Soon reaching the wilderness boundary, and crossing the only major stream on the route, the trail starts climbing more in earnest. It's never really steep, but it let me know that I was on the ragged edge.

I had apparently forgotten to turn my phone off, because just as I reached the high point on the trail (~2100'), it rang. It was Mike, so I answered it. After a short chat, I told him I'd call him when I was heading into town. Reaching the Mt. Parker Trail junction, the broken trail ended. Rather than break trail in my questionable physical condition, I decided to turn tail and descend. What I had hiked, was what I set out to redline in the first place! I'll get back to Mt. Parker with my camera eventually.

My descent was quick, as my spikes bit into any ice there was, and snow balled up under my feet. Reaching my car, beard frozen, I changed and set off for Conway. I hit the Moat for lunch, and did a bit of crying in my before noon beers. When I was done, I stopped by Mike's, and we discussed a plan for tomorrow (originally we were going to do Jefferson and Adams... but not with those wind-chills!), which will feature some skinning up to Tuckerman Ravine, and some skiing. We'll see how the lungs react to that!

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