|This is to you, Mt. Cabot!|
The forecast was looking beautiful for Saturday, so Paloma and I, joined by Julie and Joe, decided to head up to the mountains to hike the Wildcats. The ride up Rte. 16 went relatively smoothly, though I did take one wrong turn but that was easily fixed. As we approached Pinkham Notch we noticed a large volume of cars parked on the sides of the road and numerous cyclists with racing numbers attached to their jerseys. Great - we chose to hike Wildcat during the famous Inferno race, a pentathlon of running, cycling, kayaking, hiking and skiing in the area. No chance we were going to find parking anywhere near the trail-head. Time for plan B.
|York Pond Trail-head|
We decided to hike from the Berlin Fish Hatchery, a rather unique looking facility nestled deep in the woods off of York Pond Road. We asked a few gentlemen where the trailhead was and found it relatively easy. There were a few cars in the parking lot, and a ton of snow still left. I was the only person who brought snowshoes so I decided that I would lead the pack and hopefully flatten down some of the snow for the others to hike on.
|Packing down the trail|
The first 1.5 miles or so was relatively flat, hiking across some pretty open terrain. There were hundreds of gigantic moose tracks in the snow, strange looking animal poops scattered about, and what looked like the remains of a massacred bird. We were in the wild! At one point I mentioned to Joe how cool it would be to see a bear, when all of a sudden an animal emerged from the woods about 50 yards ahead of us. It was a giant, weasel-looking animal. Turns out it was a Fisher Cat! Cool!
|Fisher Cat in the distance|
A bit further on we encountered our first humans, a pair of raggedy looking guys on their way down. Joe asked "how much further do we have," to which one of the mongrels replied "you are going to hate yourselves." Gee, thanks for the insight buddy. Things were looking promising! We carried on, stumbling our way through the snow, post-holing nearly every five feet. My snowshoes were useless at this point so I strapped them to my pack and decided to just go with microspikes. We hiked for a few more grueling miles and saw some more people, each of them in about the same mood as us...borderline miserable. Thank God for the nice weather, or this day would have really sucked. One guy we passed while he was on the way down referred to the trail as "the trail of tears." It was truly that horrible. I imagine that in the summer or dead of winter this trail would be relatively easy, but not now.
|Paloma and I at the summit|
Exhausted, wet, and hungry, we decided to find a place to eat in North Conway. We chose the Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewing Company. Thankfully we got a table by the door so I was able to hobble in. I ordered some a sample of 9 different beers to help dull the pain and we engorged ourselves with burgers, pulled pork, and fries. Finally I was feeling better! We didn't end up getting home until around midnight. A long, painful day it was but we were still able to joke around and have fun, and I have no regrets about the hike at all, just lessons learned:
1) Don't hike in warm weather when there is still snow on the ground.
2) Don't wear shorts when post-holing is inevitable. You will lose copious amounts of leg hair.
3) Research local area events before planning a hike.
4) If something is hurting you, listen to it, and don't try to hike 10 miles.
5) Hike with others.
I visited the hospital on Sunday morning and was diagnosed with a fractured fifth metatarsal. Today I visited the orthopedic doctor and was given a permanent cast that I will need to wear for a month. Hopefully this thing heals up nicely so I can get back on the trails soon!
Trails: York Pond, Bunnell Notch, Kilkenny Ridge
Total Time (Including Breaks): 7:45
Distance: 9.4 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2900'