Saturday we had a chance to hike, so Cameron chose Waumbek via the Starr King Trail. It is a shorter trek and a wooded summit so it was perfectly suited to hiking on a day in which there would be very little sunshine.
We got to the trailhead a little later than we planned on, but that worked out as the forecasted rain had already passed through the area. The weather did lend an interesting perspective to the hike. Everything was wet and fresh and green and the colors seemed that much more intense as we traveled through the forest and eventually across the misty ridge.
The trail has most of the elevation gain in the first part of the hike. Once past the two mile or so mark, the grade is a bit more gentle on the approach to the summit of Starr King (not a 4,000 footer, just a summit along the way). Once at Starr King, the trail gently descends to a col and then gently rises again to the summit of Waumbek, about a mile from Starr King. The summit itself is a cairn on the side of the trail in a wide spot. There were plenty of people on Waumbek as it was a holiday weekend, some of the other White Mountain trails are still inaccessible due to Irene and the weather wasn’t conducive to spectacular views. We counted over ten cars in the small parking area and saw quite a few people on the trail and at the summit.
At the summit, we got to met Dan, who is hiking all of the 48 in the month of September for charity. I had heard of him and his quest, and it was great to meet him and his fantastic support crew. He’s got a blog, September 48, which is detailing his journey so far and for the rest of the month. Along the ridge on the way back from the summit we also had the privilege of meeting John and Marty out for hike to Waumbek. John has his own blog, too, 1HappyHiker, where he shares his adventures in the White Mountains. It was really neat to meet people in real life who share the same enjoyment of the trails.
The rest of the trip back to the car was pretty quiet, but once we got to less than two miles to go, Cam started a game he calls “Mountain Goat”. Basically, it is trail running. When the trail is good and not too rocky, rooty or steep, he runs. That means that I have to run, too, to keep up. After a while, he stops and waits for me or will stop because he doesn’t feel safe given the nature of the trail. This little game keeps him entertained and shortens the time it takes to get back to the car. It is also good for our cardiovascular fitness, albeit probably a bit risky for mom’s knees (hence the reason I’m a bit slower due to being picky about my foot placement!). Maybe I should pack trail runners for the descents.
We got back to the car, a little out of breath from running, but agreed that we had a great hike! One more down, and now we’re waiting for the convergence of our schedule and a good day so that he can hike Moosilauke to celebrate his halfway point in the list!