Ethan’s Hikes For October 2017

My hiking schedule was off for much of 2017. I started out the year intending to make a serious dent in my winter 48. I didn’t do so well, bagging a mere 4 winter peaks over 2016-2017. Why? I had a work project that demanded most of my weekends from January until early August.

With that project behind me and my plane trips finalized for the year, I’ve finally been able to get back into a hiking groove. And it has been GREAT. I’ve been able to enjoy several outings with my friend Eric, who is hooked on bagging his 48. Of course, Summerset is back from the PCT, so we’ve been able to get some hikes in together, along with other friends.

Sneaking in a late September hike, I bagged the Osceolas with Summerset. I was working on 48×2, and needed them. It was a nice day out, with decent views and no drama except for the usual joys of the chimney in between Osceola and East Osceola.

On October 7, I bagged Tecumseh as sort of a test flight with Eric. It was his first 48, and we needed to get a sense of whether or not he was going to be into it. Tecumseh seemed like a good place to start–easy parking at Waterville Valley ski area, and nice, well-maintained trail. But it wasn’t too long of a hike if things went sideways. Which…it didn’t. We had a great day out. On the way down, we ran into Rocket21 (Jeremy), laying the groundwork for some new rock steps. Thanks for all you do, Jeremy. Mt. Tecumseh Trail is in great shape.

To finish my 48×2, I needed Isolation. Since Tecumseh had gone so well for Eric, he decided to join the Iso party on October 14 made of up me, Summerset, Claudette, and Kevin for a total of five. The Iso hike was…well. You know. If you’ve done that hike from Rocky Branch, it is what it is. A bit long, rocky, and muddy. But, for Eric’s sake, why not go from one of the easiest 48s to one of the hardest? Another decent day out, Eric’s second 48, and my 48×2 completion.

October 21 was a solo day for me the way everyone’s schedules worked out. I decided to bag some Presis considering there was no cloud cover on the peaks and the wind was relatively light. It was also a chance to do a little redlining. I headed up Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, pit stopped at Lakes, bagged Monroe, and then up to Washington.

There was not much wind until about 300 feet under the Washington summit where it got a bit uncomfortable. The summit itself wasn’t terrible, but not an especially nice place to be. The tourists were still out with the Cog running constantly, and the summit buildings were open. I ducked inside to escape the bluster, added a rain jacket to break the wind, and then headed back out for the long walk around Clay to Jeff.

On the Jeff summit, I found a party. On the way up, I’d heard whoops and hollering from the top. Once I got there, I found someone who’d just finished his first 48, and was celebrating with several friends who had joined the hike.

From Jeff, I turned back towards Clay to head down Jewell. On the way, I hiked a few tenths with an AT thru hiker named TallTale. It was his last day on the trail, and he was excited. TallTale had hiked all the way from Springer to Washington, then flipped up to Katahdin, and hiked back south. Once he made it to Washington, he would be all done. Pretty neat to share a little bit of his big finish. Congratulations, TallTale from Mason, NH! It was great to meet you.

I made it back to the Jewell junction and headed down. The top third of Jewell was miserable with steepness and rocks. On tired legs, it’s no fun. Once in the tree line though, Jewell was much nicer. Near the bottom, I decided to add Boundary Line Trail to the mix because I was solo and had plenty of daylight, and so…why not? It was an easy, mostly flat walk that meant I netted Ammo, Jewell, and Boundary Line as fresh redlining all in one day.

On October 28, Eric and I headed to the Willey Range to bag, in order, Field, Willey, and Tom. We did the circuit via Avalon, visited the Avalon summit, then headed up to Field. We saw a bit of snow on the way up–not rime, but a small amount of heavy, wet snow in the woods along side Avalon Trail. At the summit of Field, we met a trail runner accompanied by her dog, who she had dressed festively as a dragon. Or maybe a stegosaurus. Either way, that trail dog was looking dapper.

We headed from Field over to Willey and then back along Willey Range Trail, with the usual mix of open and gnarly bits, then continued down to the sag between Field and Tom along A-Z Trail. We bopped on up the Tom Spur Trail, completing the bagging of Eric’s third, fourth, and fifth 4K peaks.

Once back at the Tom spur junction with A-Z trail, we looked at the clock, and saw that about 4:38 had elapsed since the start from Crawford Notch. Eric thought that maybe we could make it back to the car in under 6 hours, so we put the hammer down and headed for the bottom as fast as we dared on the slippery rocks and wet leaves. Sure enough, we finished with an elapsed time of 5:40, which felt pretty good. I almost died only like a dozen times due to treacherous footing, which was totally worth it since Eric was entertained waiting for me to crack my head open. 🙂

The Willey range summits were grid peaks 148, 149, and 150 for me, although they actually added to 48×4 instead of 48×3. For 48×3, I’ve completed 33 peaks, and for 48×4, I’ve now bagged 21. Another interesting stat is that for my grid, October is my strongest month so far with 25 peaks in the bag, followed by June with 24 and September with 22.

My favorite picture of the month was this shot taken from the Ammo looking back down the hill. The sun was just coming up over the ridge, hitting the valley below.

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Looking ahead to November, I’m considering the Hancocks, Owl’s Head, the Carters, Washington + Monroe + Jeff (again), and maybe a Z-Bonds traverse. The Kinsmans are also calling to me. We’ll see what shakes out based on which days I have to go solo, weather, and so on. October weather was unusually kind, and it seems presumptuous to assume November will be the same.

If I could snag ten or so peaks, that would be nice. With a little bit of favor from our New Hampshire weather deities, that could work out considering there are 2 holidays to add to the weekends, improving the odds.

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