Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hiking in the White Mountains

I promised a blog entry on Brendan's and my hike last Saturday - and there is no knitting in this one, just some Murphy's law moments. So, it all started back in 2003 (no, really) when Wild Women Outfitters was having a sale... they had beautiful Merrell Chameleon Hiking boots in SIZE 11 (yes, I wear an 11 and it is sooooo frickin' hard to find stuff in my size that fits and might even be on sale)... so, of course, I had to buy these. Ok. Have hiking boots. Fantastic. Great. Although, at this point, Brendan and I had just gotten engaged and I was moving to Tulsa... fantastic but no need for hiking boots out there. Still - no problem... we're GOING to hike when we're back near the mountains, so not an issue. I just stored these babies in my shoe closet(s) in their box. So far, so good. I could wait to use them for the first time. Well, fast forward to last weekend when, despite the high heat and humidity, we decide that wouldn't it be nice for us to go hike up a mountain together and break in my 'new' (never-been-worn) boots? Excellent. We decide on this:

Mount Pemigewassett TrailThe Mount Pemigewassett Trail climbs to the summit of Mount Pemigewassett, a 2,500-foot peak at the southern end of Franconia Notch. The climb is a good one for children, since it’s never very steep. The views from the top are excellent, and the combination of stream crossings and rocks in the forest make for an interesting walk.

Fine. Great. Looks good, right? Well, we had checked out a map but cheaped out on buying a new White Mountain Guide when Brendan had a perfectly good one... somewhere (probably back at his parent's house since he hasn't hiked in the Whites since high school)... so we figure, we've looked at the map and the trail and it's this suitable-for-children hike that is no problem... we'll just do this one hike and then next time we visit the 'rents, we'll pick up the Trail guide for our *next* trip. That was a mistake. Here's what we ended up climbing because we unwittingly parked 100 yds too far, in the wrong parking lot (and followed the "Pemi Trail" which is NOT, the Pemigewassett Trail, even though they're trail heads are very near each other):

Mount Flume Trail

The White Mountain Guide has this to say about the Flume Slide on the Mount Flume Slide Trail: "It is an extremely steep, rough trail, with polished rock slabs that are extremely slippery when wet (and they are nearly always wet, due to the many seep springs on these steep slopes). It is not recommended for descent and its use is discouraged in wet weather when the ledges are more than ordinarily dangerous." It is a 4,328 ft peak, with an elevation gain of 3,700 ft from the trailhead.

For those that might enjoy a topo map, check this out:

We followed that black line... notice that we didn't *quite* make it to the top before we turned around. Seriously, I've been gym rock climbing before and this was what we were doing near the top - it wasn't a vertical wall, but it was a steep angle of sheer rock face where we had to grab hold of whatever we could and try to fit our feet on tiny ledges... and it was wet rock. Oh, and there were black flies (or some close cousin) that were biting like crazy while I needed to keep my hands and feet clutched to rock.

Ok, so we turn around and we're hiking back. Yes, it's still 90+ with 80% humidity... no problem... we're trudging along and when we've got 1 mile to go, I look down and my brand new boots feel funny:

Brendan suggested tying the laces around the sole so I could finish the hike (notice that the sole is still connected at the toe)... and that pretty much worked although I had to drag my foot so that the sole wouldn't come off.
The hike *felt* good - I mean, I felt like we had an exciting day and I felt like I had actually resumed exercising which I haven't done in a while... but my challenge now is to see if Merrell will back up their products and replace my boots. Wish me luck.

p.s. This is me - filthy, bitten to pieces, and favouring my right foot but finally arriving at the paved parking lot. Hallelujah.



Blogger Zarzuela said...

You guys are so lucky you didn't get yourselves killed! Holy crap!! I'm glad you made it through ok. Sounds like quite the adventure!

Oh yeah, and I'm a size 11 too! I sooooooooo feel your shoe pain!!!


7:23 p.m., August 03, 2006  
Blogger barbp said...

Don Admas from Get Smart accent "Missed it By That Much".

So sorry that you missed the right trailhead but what an adventure and Good on Ya that you handled it so well. Black flies are a bite, eh? (sorry poor attempt at a joke)

Glad you made it back safe and sound and keep us posted on Merrell. They have such a great reputation that I'll be watching to see that they live up to it.

8:06 p.m., August 03, 2006  
Blogger jennsquared said...

Holy Moly! That's quite an advanture. So sorry for the *new* boots! I have the opposite of shoe pain - I wear 5.5 so I never find any small size either, let along on sale - the ones that are on sale, well, lets just say they are not my style. I always end up buying 6 and find some kinda padding so I can make it in there. But I guess still better than not finding shoes at all.

Miss you lots!

11:53 a.m., August 04, 2006  

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