Mount Pierce via Crawford Connector, Crawford Path, Webster Cliff Trail, and Mizpah Cutoff

Because our summer breaks are quickly coming to a close, we decided to try another group hike in the Whites with Colin’s dad and Uncle Paul to give them a better view into what we’ve been doing pretty much every weekend this summer. We wanted to find an easier hike because we knew how much we had hurt after our first of the 48, and we wanted our guests to actually enjoy themselves and not die of exhaustion. So, in the end we settled on taking an easy rout up to Mt. Pierce and looping back around to see the Mizpah Spring Hut on our way down.

Because Colin’s dad doesn’t like camping all that much, we woke up in the wee hours of the morning so we could head up and start the hike at around 8:00 AM.  The plan worked almost perfectly, and we began our hike only a half hour late, starting on the Crawford Connector and heading over to take the Crawford Path nearly to the summit.

After taking a left off the Crawford Connector, we headed uphill for about a quarter mile where we took a side-path down to Gibbs Falls. We snapped some pictures, took a quick water break, and continued at an easy grade up to the junction with the Mizpah Cutoff (our return rout). We were surprised by the amount of people that were out on the trail. Many of them were simply going up to see the hut. Thankfully everyone we met was extremely nice and eager to talk about how beautiful the day was and where we were headed.

We stayed straight, leaving the Mizpah Cutoff on our right and continued for another 1.2 miles where we met up with the connection to the Webster Cliff Trail. From here, we got some amazing views of Eisenhower and Washington and Colin’s dad and uncle finally fully understood why we enjoy hiking so much.

We soaked up the views for a bit and then took a right onto the Webster Cliff Trail (which is part of the Appalachian Trail) and after an easy 0.1-mile climb, we reached the summit of Pierce at 11:15 AM, number 10 on our list, WOOHOO! We took another look around and began our descent on the Webster Cliff Trail to the Mizpah Spring hut.

The Mizpah Spring Hut reminded us a lot of the Greanleaf hut we had visited the week before. It was filled with hikers of all ages, fresh water, food to purchase, and some awesome pictures, trail guides, and maps. We ate here and took a decent rest (much needed by Colin’s sweaty dad) and after about a half-hour we started back down on the Mizpah Cutoff (which began to the right of the Webster Cliff Trail, 200 feet into the woods), eventually connecting back up to the junction with the Crawford Path. We took a left and retraced our steps back down to the car, completing the hike at 2:30 PM.

Overall, we agreed that it was probably the easiest hike we’ve done so far, so it’s a great option for families or anyone with inexperienced hikers. The views were spectacular and as usual, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and our company. And of course, just as we pulled away it started to rain… thanks for giving us a break for once, weather!

Mt. Lafayette, Mt. Lincoln, and Little Haystack via Old Bridle Path, Franconia Ridge Trail, and Falling Waters Trail

We finally redeemed ourselves! Last weekend, we dragged our friend Dan back to the White Mountains in an earnest attempt to convince him that our camping and hiking trips don’t always suck. Things could not have gone any smoother (except for the part where Dan got sick after eating too much ice cream, but he brought that upon himself). The weather was clear and warm for the duration of our stay, not a single chicken sausage fell into the ashes of our campfire while we cooked them, and we got to take Dan along on one of the most beautiful hikes in New England: a gorgeous loop through Franconia Notch, which gave us the opportunity to bag Mt. Lafayette and Mt. Lincoln.

After a quick breakfast, we set out on Old Bridle Path at 6:30 AM and began hiking our way to Lafayette. The grade was surprisingly moderate, with only a few steep stretches scattered in between. The trail was well maintained and conditioned to accommodate even the most novice hiker. The abundance of rock stairs were a nice treat, but we also worried their presence indicated that we would encounter crowded summits and congested trails due to the popularity and accessibility of this hike. To add to our concerns, it was a gorgeous summer day—clear skies, comfortable temperatures, and a mild breeze. It was difficult, but we had to remember that the mountains are for everyone, not just us!

As we ascended the ridge and weaved through the timberline, we encountered breathtaking views of the sun rising over Lincoln and a light cloud-layer covering the valley below us.  We looked over the edge of the ridge in awe, not just to admire the verdant valley below, but also to see how far one misstep could send us tumbling. With some perspective, we continued carefully marching up the trail at a gradual pace, stopping at many of its abundant viewpoints, until we reached the Greenleaf Hut.

Greenleaf Hut was bustling with enthusiastic hikers when we reached it mid-morning. We poked around just for a little bit. Our original plan was to travel through the entire notch, all the way from Lafayette to Flume, so we were cautious about our time (we ultimately decided to turn around at Little Haystack and save Liberty and Flume for another day). On our way out of the hut, a hiker commented on how the two of us were polar opposites when it came to our hiking attire. Katie was bundled in a heavy sweatshirt, paired with shorts and ankle-length leggings. Colin was shirtless and in shorts. We took advantage of the water refill station, inhaled some delicious home-made coffeecake, and set out towards our first summit.

The rest of the way to Lafayette seemed within reach. We hiked on the ridge for a short while before we reached the open, completely exposed trail on the side of the mountain that led to the summit. The way up from there was nothing short of agony. We took probably a thousand breaks, and we kept thinking we were at the top when, in reality, we still had a ways to go.

Eventually, we reached our first goal. It. Was. Glorious. The views were incredible and crystal clear—no clouds, no mist, no summer haze. We could see Greenleaf Hut, which looked about as large as one of those green and red house pieces from Monopoly. We saw Lonesome Lake, which did in fact, look lonesome, as it sat stagnant and alone about 2,000 feet out-of-place in the air. We saw the observation tower atop Cannon Mountain, and about a million other things. After a short rest, we began our traverse to Lincoln.

Mt. Lincoln was deceptively farther away than we thought, but we had an amazing ridge hike in store that led to its summit. The one downfall of such a scenic trail is that we eventually began to lose interest in the unique beauty of our surroundings. The rest of the way to Lincoln, and eventually Little Haystack, was punctuated by brief moments of wonder, but ultimately was overpowered by the drive to get to the top as soon as possible so we could make good time. About an hour after we left Lafayette, we reached Lincoln’s summit, which boasted a decent crowd of hikers. We took some pictures, glanced back at Lafayette, and collectively realized that we should be proud of our progress. And we totally were.

We continued on the easy grade to Little Haystack, where the Falling Waters Trail (the trail we would be taking down) sloped down to the left. Here was where we began debating weather we should continue on, all the way to Flume. Initially, we decided that we would continue along Franconia’s Ridge for a short time and see just much more difficult it would be to continue. After about a half hour we reached a viewpoint that showed us what we were in store for and we grudgingly determined that Liberty and Flume just weren’t in the cards for us if we wanted to make it back before sundown. So, we headed back towards Little Haystack and started down the Falling Waters Trail.

After a short but steep decent down the side of Little Haystack, we were engulfed again by the treeline and continued our long, grueling descent down to a junction that split between a continuation of Falling Waters, and a 0.1 mile path to see Shining Rock. We decided that it would be fun to use some of our extra time and see this so-called shining rock, so we left our backpacks behind and took the Shining Rock Spur down to a nice rest-spot at the base of a water soaked rock (spoiler: the rock wasn’t really shiny, just wet). We took some time to catch our breath before we headed back and continued our decent.

Falling Waters Trail probably isn’t ideal for descents. The waterfalls we encountered were stunning, and it was nice hiking to the sound of rushing water, but the trail proved to be slippery, steep, and in our opinion, a little dangerous. Maybe we were just tired out, or maybe we’re babies, but we had to catch ourselves from slipping on the rocks more times than we can count. With the steepness of the trail, and all those brook crossings, and we were exhausted by the time we reached our car at around 4:30 PM, and no longer regretted our decision to head back down when we did. Despite all our whining, it was an amazing hike, probably one of the best yet view-wise (minus the hoards of other hikers), and we’re so glad that Dan doesn’t hate us anymore!

Cannon Mountain: The Eleven Mile Hike!

We have this theory that we are cloud-magnets. But for some unknown reason, we selectively attract the grumpy and the overemotional ones (read: thunder and rain clouds). We also believe our cloud magnetism powers only work in the midst of mountain ranges during the most inconvenient times. Two weekends ago, our theory proved correct once again during our attempt at a twelve-mile hike to bag Cannon Mountain and the Kinsmans. While we’re not ones to shy away from a little rain or mist in ordinary circumstances, it’s certainly wasn’t ideal for us to be hauling up boulders and slippery slopes while the sky was having an emotional breakdown.

The one thing that makes us feel better about hiking in the rain is having a nice, sit-down breakfast beforehand. We walked into Flapjacks right when the doors opened, and lingered at our table for a long time in hopes that the clouds would clear. No such luck. After downing some fabulous omelets, we mustered up all the optimism we could manage and headed over to Lafayette Campground, which hosts the trailhead for hiking the Kinsmans and Cannon. Parking was free, so that made us feel marginally better. With our gear packed and water stores filled to the brim, we embarked on the Lonesome Lake trailhead to conquer the Kinsmans first, or so we thought.

Our yellow-blazed trail lead us up through the Lafayette campsites and into the woods. The first half of the trail was an easy grade with great footing. We met a good number of families with small children heading down from the lake and its hut. One precious little boy shyly asked if we were hiking mountains (his jaw dropped when we told him we were climbing three!). We passed the fork to Hi-Cannon Trail on our right and eventually emerged at a crossroads right at the shore of Lonesome Lake.

The lake was shrouded in an eerie mist that clouded the water’s characteristic glassiness (we’ve seen many a photograph of gorgeous Lonesome Lake during autumn’s peak). Substitute the towering pines for robust redwood trees, and we would have believed we were teleported to the Northwest. We both stood silently in awe for a long time. There was so much beauty to take in–had our pupils widened any further, we both would have gone blind. As much as we didn’t want to leave, we determined it would be best to keep going, seeing as the forecast for rain was approaching quickly.

At the junction we headed right to continue down the Lonesome Lake Trail, following it around the north shore and diverging right after a short period. The fun, easy grade ended here, as we quickly began to head upwards towards the Kinsman Ridge Trail. At this point, we realized that we had, in fact, started ascending the trail for Cannon Mountain instead of the Kinsmans. We were a little bummed that we screwed up, but ultimately, our mistake turned out to be for our benefit (more on that later). So, off to Cannon we went!

In about a mile we gained around 700 feet in elevation and were pretty tired once we reached the end of the trail. Nevertheless, we continued down to our right to follow the Kinsman Ridge Trail to the Coppermine Col, at the base of Cannon Mountain. The path was gradual at first but soon became extremely strenuous thanks to the huge, slippery boulders blocking our path. It made for a fairly arduous journey up to Cannon, but it was also cool hiking in the mist, which we presumed was a wispy cloud resting by the mountainside. Upon reaching the top at around 11:00AM we were engulfed by a glorious panoramic view of, well, absolutely nothing! The summit and viewing platform were both completely veiled by mist and cloud, and the fog was so opaque and dense that we couldn’t see five feet in front of our faces. The viewfinders at the observation tower were pretty much rendered useless. Despite the white in all directions, we were happy to add 4,000 Footer Number 7 to our list! After marveling briefly at the powerful gusts (Katie was convinced and terrified she would be blown off the summit) and the fact that we were literally hanging out in a cloud, we headed back down and retraced our steps to the connection with the Lonesome Lake trail.

From here, we left the Lonesome Lake trail on our left and began climbing the first of the three “Cannon Balls” on the Kinsman Ridge Trail. Our views were still obscured by the fog, but we still admired our surroundings as we sloped up and down several times at an easy to moderate grade over all three of the Cannon Balls, which were sizable mountains themselves. There were several, sharp upward climbs here, but they were short bursts with fairly good footing. After about two hours of traversing, we entered Kinsman Junction. The clouds were thinning enough for the sun to occasionally break through, so we decided to try our luck and continue on the Kinsman Ridge Trail and, hopefully, at least bag the first Kinsman. Bad idea.

At 4:00PM, the rain poured down on us in sheets, and thunderheads started rolling in quickly. Colin must be a little psychic, because not even 5 seconds before the rain started, he simply stated “It’s going to rain soon. I’ve got a feeling…” So we grudgingly aborted our journey and headed back towards the junction. We took a very short break at Kinsman Junction on the way back, which provided a perfect time for a much needed rest and for Colin to take some pictures of the clouds rolling over the mountains, truly a magnificent sight. But the break was brief and we continued on back to the junction where we began our journey back down to Lonesome Lake via the Fishin’ Jimmy Trail.

This was an interesting decent, and by interesting, we mean torturous and awful. The rocks were soaked and slippery and provided little to no footing. Butt-sliding became our main method of descent for the steeper parts of the first half of Fishin’ Jimmy, which didn’t matter much to us anyway since our pants were already soaked from the rain. Unfortunately, it added a lot of time to the total amount of hours we spent hiking. Eventually the rain let up (for the most part) and we crossed several misty brooks before eventually reaching the Lonesome Lake Hut, a beautiful little hide-away that we would love to stay at someday (if we ever become rich or really feel like splurging for a night or two). From here, the trail was an easy, yet muddy, stroll on a trail of bog bridges around the southwest corner of the lake, which ultimately led us to the Lonesome Lake Junction we visited earlier that day.

Now, it was simply time to backtrack down the Lonesome Lake Trail to the car, where we finally collapsed at 8:00PM. Our legs were eager to abandon their abusive bodies (sorry, legs—we love you!). And so we began the ride home, trying to look back at the bright sides of the hike. If this had been a nice day, it would have been a hard but definitely doable loop. The weather may not have been in our favor but we still had an amazing time together and, as always, pushed ourselves to our limits. We have no regrets about the hike. Heck, admiring Lonesome Lake in the mist was satisfying enough, and experiencing the raw power of nature on top of Cannon was pretty awesome, too. Another great thing about hiking on cruddy days is the lack of people on the trail. We enjoy the solitude together, which totally sounds paradoxical but it makes sense, we swear! Even though we ended up hiking eleven miles total just to summit one mountain, the journey was just as adventurous, beautiful, and rewarding. If mountains could laugh, North and South Kinsman would be howling as they ridicule the crap out of us for turning back 0.2 miles away from NK’s summit. Even though we didn’t accomplish our original plan, we’ll have the last laugh when we’re standing atop their summits after a safe ascent. Oh, and Mt. Tom? Don’t you even think for a second we forgot about you.

Mt. Moosilauke via Gorge Brook Trail, Carriage Road, and Snapper Trail

Sometimes, weather forecasts lie to you. The day we hiked Willey and Field, and ultimately turned back from Tom because of a passing storm, we were promised clear, sunny skies. Last weekend, we learned that meteorologists really are the best liars (even if it’s unintentional). The weather forecast for the Mt. Moosilauke area threatened a 60% chance of thunderstorms the day we planned to hike it. We hauled up to New Hampshire anyway, set up our little tent at Wildwood Campground, and resigned to skipping Moosilauke if the weather was terrible in the morning.

We awoke to unexpectedly clear skies. Excited, we checked the forecast one last time to find that the storms weren’t expected to start until the early afternoon. We grabbed breakfast in North Woodstock (which is the cutest little town ever), and set out for the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. Much to our disappointment, the lodge was closed for a private event. On our way to the trailhead, we encountered some fun, snarky signs presumably made by the Dartmouth College students who run the lodge. Thanks for letting us know that we can’t bring our “Ford Model-T” or our llamas on the trail!

At the end of the road, we reached the starting point of our hike at 7:30 AM. The first small stretch was a gravel and dirt road, which led us to a fork in the path where we turned left. Thankfully we had our trail guide since this part wasn’t marked, but it would have been easy enough to figure out. At this point, the trail descended for a bit and took us down to Baker River, where we crossed an adorable bridge. A group of signs indicating which directions the trails started, so we followed them right towards the Gorge Brook Trail. We turned right at the intersection with the Hurricane trail (which continued straight) and continued following the well-marked path. According to almost every hiking site we researched, Gorge Brook is one of the more popular and easier paths up to the summit. The grade ranged from easy, to moderate towards the top. We encountered the typical rocks and roots (and a thousand frogs hopping about), and the trail was wooded for a majority of the way up.

We crossed our second bridge after a short while and then were met with some trail damage. It was mainly a bunch of up-rooted trees falling over the river we were following, but it was easy enough to get around after a little thinking. We followed the trail for 1.3 miles until we crossed a third bridge, which was noticeably wobblier than the first and second. In another 0.3 miles, we reached a plaque for the Ross McKenney Forest. What cooler way to be honored after your death than to have your own forest? After a rest and some speculation as to whether dead people haunt the memorial places dedicated to them, we pressed on to a gradually ascending, yet moderate grade. At 2.1 miles, our trail guide told us we would veer left onto an old logging road, so we did even though we had no idea what constituted a logging road. It looked like a normal trail to us. Along we way, we passed two cleared viewpoints that offered scenic views of the mountains surrounding us.

Past the viewpoints, we began to weave in and out of the treeline on a moderately steep and rocky path. The guide we took with us described this section as the trail “flirting” with the timberline, so naturally the conversation up consisted of us personifying the trail and trees making passes at each other (we find ways to amuse ourselves). We broke past the timberline to a false summit with beautiful views, which we later found out were of South Peak. From there, we hiked straight 0.5 miles to the summit on a completely exposed trail that stretched across the lush, green ridge of Moosilauke. The stone tower trail markers dotted the side of the path all the way up to the summit.

We reached the top at 10:30 AM and were engulfed in a full, 360 degree view of our surroundings that took our breath away. Although a thin summer haze shielded some of our views from the top, we could still see miles ahead since it was a clear day. We had some fellow hikers (AT hikers! With a puppy!) take our picture by the Mt. Moosilauke elevation sign. A light breeze kept us company as we ate our sandwiches, took pictures, and scouted out the small, circular summit marker. We relaxed and soaked in the views for a good half hour, and then embarked on our descent via Carriage Road.

While we definitely appreciated the easy way down Carriage Road, we both found it monotonous and eventually just plain boring. A majority of the descent was spent wondering aloud how the heck a horse and carriage successfully maneuvered up and down this rocky road. After 2.1 miles, we merged onto the Snapper Trail, which was pretty much the same difficulty and grade as Carriage Road, but located in a more wooded area with plenty of exposed roots snaking in and out of the dirt. It was very similar to Gorge Brook, which we eventually turned onto after 1.1 miles on Snapper. Luckily, we bypassed the washed out parts of the Gorge Brook Trail on the way back, and after a final 0.6 miles, we found ourselves back at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, making our hike one large loop.

The thunderstorms were nice enough to stay away from us until after we were safely in the car driving home. Strangely enough, the U.S. Border Patrol was pulled over on the highway to briefly inspect every car that passed. We know they’re required to ask questions, especially if they spot something suspicious, but we couldn’t help but laugh after the officer asked us what was in the garbage bag (which was full of our camping garbage) in the backseat. Overall, this was a successful trip, and we crossed off another peak on our list. The only problem we still have is that we never learned how to correctly pronounce “Moosilauke.” Guess we’ll just stick to calling it “Mt. Moo”!

Ripley Falls via the Arethusa-Ripley Falls Trail (A Mini-Hike)

If you ever find yourself in the Crawford Notch area with too much time to spare, but not enough time to climb an entire mountain, then get your butt over to Ripley Falls. After pitching our tent at Dry River campground for the night, we were left with a good few hours before we could reasonably start a fire for dinner. We saw a sign on the way to Dry River for a short hike to a waterfall, so we decided to check it out and we’re glad we did!

We reached Willey Station House Road and parked at the very top lot right in front of the trailhead. Interestingly enough, this would also be our starting point for hiking Mount Willey, Mount Field and our attempt at Mount Tom. Like our hike for those mountains, we crossed the railroad tracks to get to the trail, but this time we bore left onto the Arethusa-Ripley Falls Trail instead of Ethan Pond. Most of the trail was uphill, and the grade ranged from easy to moderate in certain places. After about 0.4 miles, the trail ended and we reached the bottom of Ripley Falls, which allowed us to look up and see them in their entirety. A few families had the same idea as us. Young children played in the water as their parents watched them carefully. We witnessed one kid get in trouble for venturing too far out and almost forgetting his towel. Katie laughed, half because she was uncomfortable watching him get chastised, and half because she has a terrible sense of humor.

We lounged on the rocks for a while. Colin took pictures using his tripod, which he lugged along for the hike (he got some stunning shots, too). Katie found some fun in ogling the puppies belonging to other hikers, and trying to get their attention when their owners weren’t looking. It was a good time. The sound of the water crashing on the rocks and the crystal clear cascade was soothing and relaxed us before our anticipated three-mountain hike the next day.

The way back was a leisurely walk downhill. It only took us about twenty minutes to hike each way, making this trip a total of forty minutes, or about 0.6 miles each way. This was a short, yet rewarding side trip for us, especially because we wanted to hike somewhere cool, but didn’t have the time to devote to a long hike. If you ever happen to be in a similar situation, try doing this. And if you don’t feel like using your legs, the Willey House was a fun place to visit. Just don’t provoke the ghosts!

Mt. Willey and Mt. Field via Ethan Pond Trail and Willey Range Trail

Last weekend, we decided to be overly ambitious and try our luck at bagging three peaks: Willey, Field, and Tom. Hikers in pursuit of conquering the 48 usually climb them in one go, since they all belong to the same range. However, our plans were thwarted by an unexpected thunderstorm, which prevented us from getting Tom. Rain sucks.

We started our day around 9:00 AM by parking at the bottom of Willey House Station Road, where there is no suggested fee for leaving your car there. We walked uphill on a paved road for a short time until we reached the Ethan Pond Trailhead. Early on in the hike, we crossed railroad tracks and followed the sign for the Ripley Falls Trail. Eventually, we were led to two diverging paths at 0.3 miles. The one on the left traveled to Ripley Falls (a easy twenty minute hike we did the day before), and the right was a continuation of Ethan Pond Trail. One of the cooler things we encountered was a faded, carved sign nailed to a tree that signified that we were hiking on the Appalachian Trail. We even met a hiker who had started his journey three weeks ago, a bulging pack strapped to his back and his beard fully grown in. The grade was easy for this section of the trail. We walked at a gradual incline and the terrain wasn’t too rocky or root-covered. After about 1.3 miles, we turned onto the Willey Range Trail to make our ascent.

The Willey Range Trail offered us a much harder grade than Ethan Pond. For 1.1 miles, we trudged up a steep path of rocks, which were often slippery due to the many brooks crossing the trail. We didn’t think it was strenuous as the ascent to Osceola, but we also weren’t sore from climbing other mountains the day before. There were a good amount of rock-stairs that made the climb easier on us, but overall, there were many parts where the footing was unstable, due to a lack of supportive rocks and roots, and the damp ground. Eventually, we reached an entire section of ladders (literal, man-made wooden ladders) that carried us over steep, wet terrain. After this, it was a short, rocky, and sharply inclined ascent, so we reached the top around 12:00 PM. While the marked summit of Willey offered limited views, a path that veered to the right before the summit delivered a stunning panorama of the mountains around us, the valleys below, and the awesome vastness of our surroundings. After a quick high-five at the top to celebrate our fourth 4,000 footer, we resumed our hike on the Willey Range Trail and began our journey to Field.

The hike to Field was refreshingly short and relaxing. Overall, we only lost about 300 feet in between the two mountains. We rolled downhill at a gradual pace for a majority of the path, until we reached another sharp, rocky incline which indicated we were on the final leg of our trek to the summit. The climb up was easier than Willey, and the gaunt, ash-colored trees were a refreshing change from the thickly wooded paths from which we came. We reached the summit of Field at 1:30 PM. The views were infinitely more scenic than those at Willey. We stumbled across a cute father-daughter pair feeding the resident grayjays cheese crackers out of their hands. We whipped out the banana bread we brought specifically for this reason and began doing the same. Colin thought it would be a fabulous idea to place the bread on his head, and sure enough, a greedy little grayjay swooped in and perched on there for a bit.

At this time, the sky began to darken and the clouds rolled in ominously over our heads. On our way to Tom (luckily not too far along), we ran into a mother hiking with her kids, who asked us the way to get back to Route 302. She told us that the weather was probably going to worsen and she wanted to make her way down as soon as possible. We decided to follow her advice (her mommy senses were definitely tingling), and we took the same trail down, and eventually merged on to the Avalon Trail. The first half of the decent was a difficult, due to a steep grade and rocky path. We heard the first crack of thunder immediately after we got through the hardest parts of the trail, just after passing the trail to Mt. Avalon on our right and the sign for the Mt. Tom Spur Trail, working off to our left. It suddenly began to pour. Had we foolishly decided to bag Tom, we would have been screwed. The storm was merely a passing thing, and soon after we were pelted with heavy rain, the sun began to peek through the trees.  At this time, we reached Crawford Brook, which was shrouded in a sheer mist—it was gorgeous. We stopped to take a few pictures and consult our guidebook, and we were on our way. We continued straight on our trail, ignoring the two loops that ran off to our right, and eventually crossed Crawford Brook for a second time.

We arrived at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Macomber Family Information Center on Route 302 at 4:00 PM, soaking wet, sore, and with dried mud caked on our shoes and legs. Our final mission was to try and hitch a ride back to the Ripley Falls parking lot—a good few miles away from where we were. After asking a few families who politely declined (we don’t blame them), we met a super sweet mother and daughter who were generous enough to drive us back right after they arrived at their lodge for the night. They weren’t even planning on going anywhere, let alone in our direction. It was a lovely reassurance that selfless, genuinely kind people still exist in the world.

No, we didn’t accomplish our goal of getting all three mountains. And sure, we could look back on that hike with disappointment and call it a failure. But we decided to relish in what success we had, and the fun experiences we encountered. Breathtaking views, a beautiful hike in the woodlands, friendly (albeit, super greedy) birds, nice people, and a hike that didn’t kill our legs made it all worthwhile. The thunderstorms deterred us for a little bit, but watch out, Tom. We’re still coming for you.

East Osceola and Osceola via Greeley Ponds and Osceola Trail

After our first hike up Tecumseh, we decided to hang out in the Waterville Valley area for an overnight camp and another hike in the morning. We ended up staying at a campground on the Kancamagus Highway for $20, but we decided later that it would have been a bit nicer to purchase a permit and stay along the riverside on Tripoli Road. Either way, we got a decent night’s sleep (the tent worked perfectly and set up was a breeze!) and had an awesome breakfast at Flapjack’s in the town of Lincoln the next morning. At 11:00 AM we pulled into the parking lot for the Kancamagus side of the Greeley Ponds trailhead. Our intent was to hike both of the Osceolas for a total of 3 peaks in the one weekend.

The Greeley Ponds Trail was very scenic with an easy grade and logs covering most of the muddy patches. There were two river crossings right at the beginning, one of which was easy to cross, and the other a bit wider and more difficult. We became a little confused when the trail would branch off in other directions, but after consulting our guidebook, we realized that there were also ski trails in the area marked by blue diamonds, so we avoided those. After a 1.3 mile walk we reached the trail’s intersection with the Mt. Osceola Trail, which veered off to the right.

The Mt. Osceola Trail was a bit more difficult because of the steep grade and poor footing in some areas, especially considering how sore our legs were from the day before. We took lots of breaks, but were treated to tons of awesome views through the trees (especially at a steep sloping rock face about a quarter of the way up the trail). The entirety of the trail was easy to navigate with no confusing paths branching off from the main one until just before reaching the first peak at East Osceola. This branch, which runs off to the right on flat ground at the top of a steep rocky climb, leads to an amazing view of both East Osceola and Osceola, giving us a great perspective on what was to come for the rest of the day.

After taking another long break, we headed off towards the east peak. East Osceola is horribly disappointing, the only view being a little ways before the peak. The top is marked by a pile of rocks (nature’s glory at its finest) and was really buggy, so we didn’t stay long. The pass between the two peaks was beautiful, offering tons of great views and a really fun vertical climb up “The Chimney.” At 3.8 miles, we finally reached the peak around 3:00 PM. Osceola offered the most amazing view we have seen on any of our hikes thus far, so while fighting off flies and snacking on sandwiches, we basked in the awesomeness on the clear patch of rock that marked the peak before heading back down the way we came. To no one’s surprise, Captain Feathersword encountered some paparazzi at the top (a really nice group of hikers asked to take his picture). If anyone has wondered why Captain Feathersword’s head is so large, it’s because it’s filled with delusions of self-importance and global celebrity status.

The trip down was relatively easy, with far less stops for breaks, but we also slowed down the pace to avoid breaking our ankles. We probably did more butt-sliding than walking. We reached our car at 7:00 PM for a grand total of 8 hours hiking that day (Captain Feathersword was pretty sore). We reached our goal of hiking three 4,000 footers for the weekend, which now brings our checklist down to 45!

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