Tag Archive 'mountain climbing'

Oct 14 2015

Profile Image of Walt

Climbing Jay

Filed under Blog Post

climbing Jay PeakHaving the freedom to take time to play is one of the big advantages of being self-employed. But I work harder for myself than I ever would for anyone else. I don’t stop and play enough. That said, Monday was too nice a day to stay indoors, staring at a computer screen. So I grabbed my pack and headed for the hills.

Once again, I drove to the Jay Peak trailhead. Not my favorite mountain, because of its ski trails, but the drive to it is short. Besides, it’s a relatively easy climb. I’m out of shape, thanks to excessive computer time recently, so I thought it best to make the day’s hike a short one.

My dog Matika leapt out of the car all smiles. She’s been cooped up a lot lately, thanks to my relentless work schedule. She ran up the trail, setting a rigorous pace for me. Soon I was shouting for her to wait so that I could catch my breath. With low humidity and temps in the sixties, I was sweating very little. All the same, the elevation change was doing a number on me.

We broke above the treeline towards the top. The trail became rocky. I admired the view: blue sky overhead and the landscape below ablaze with autumnal color. That’s when I promised myself that I would get out more.

A quick lunch on top then Matika and I descended. At my age, going downhill is the hard part. All my joints below the waist were aching by the time I got back to the car. Still it was good getting out. Back to work yesterday and today, I’ve been much more productive as a consequence of the outing. Yeah, there’s really no excuse for working all the time – no excuse at all.



Comments Off on Climbing Jay

Jun 15 2014

Profile Image of Walt

Bagging a Peak

Filed under Blog Post

JayPeakViewEvery once in a while, I get the urge to climb a mountain. They aren’t hard to find in Vermont. One of my favorites is Jay Peak simply because it’s close to home. The trailhead for it is only an hour from my doorstep.

Jay Peak is also fairly easy as mountain climbs go. Only takes a couple hours to get up and down it. And there’s a great 360-degree view on top.

I set foot on the trail to Jay Peak a few days ago. Had my dog Matika with me, of course. She got up front right away and stayed there during most of the hike. I stopped several times along the way to catch my breath and admire wildflowers. Painted trillium was in abundance, and yellow clintonia was just coming out. I also found patches of Canada lily, false Solomon’s seal, and wild ginseng – all late spring wildflowers. Yeah, it’s that time of year in the mountains even though summer has already arrived in the Champlain Valley.

Jay Peak is the last mountain on the Long Trail headed north, just a few miles shy of the Canadian border. Every time I climb it, I recall my thru-hike along the LT back in the 90s. There are plenty of good views of the Green Mountains towards the top, with Mount Mansfield usually visible. Makes me realize how lucky I am to live in Vermont.

Since Jay Peak has ski trails on its eastern slope, there’s a lift going to the top of it. That killed any desire I might otherwise have had to linger on the summit. After consuming a granola bar and half a liter of water, I was ready to descend. I daydreamed all the way down – one of the nice things about hiking alone.

I felt rejuvenated when I got back to the car, having cleared the stinky thoughts from my head. Bagging peaks is good for that. And the rest of the day was gravy.


One response so far

Jul 10 2012

Profile Image of Walt

Mason Climbs Monadnock

Filed under Blog Post

Yesterday I finally made good on a promise to take my grandson Mason up Monadnock. He had been bugging me about it for years, ever since his family had moved to a new home in New Hampshire only fifteen minutes away from that mountain. I told him we’d do it when he was eight, thinking he’d have to be at least that old to have the stamina necessary to make it to the top. Well, he turned eight a week and a half ago, so off we went.

While studying the map a few days before the hike, I began to worry. With 1800 feet elevation change over two miles, I wasn’t sure the little guy could do it. More to the point, I didn’t want the hike to be so grueling that it turned him off hiking forever. As we were getting ready I told him that we didn’t have to go all the way to the top. In so many words, he told me that failure wasn’t an option.

We got an early start, walking in the cool morning air. I set a steady pace as the trail gradually climbed. I checked with Mason regularly to make sure he was doing okay. His face was expressionless. He sat down every time I stopped to catch my breath. I warned him that it was going to get steep ahead. He said nothing. But when we reached the first pitch he sprung to life. He dropped his walking stick and scrambled up and over the rocks on all fours. He moved just like Spiderman, as he explained to me later. “Wait up!” I shouted after him, then I started climbing a bit faster.

As the trail grew steeper and rockier, Mason became more animated. “Come on, Gramps!” he yelled then he stopped and waited for me to catch my breath. I started laughing. Oh sure, he’d get up the mountain, all right. But would I?

Mason was surefooted and being careful. Still I didn’t want to take any chances. I kept him close to me when we broke above the tree line. I pointed out the cairns, explaining how these rock piles were necessary to find one’s way across the barren rock whenever the mountain was wrapped in clouds. Ours was a calm, blue-sky day, but Mason suddenly leaned forward as if struggling against a strong wind. “Keep going, Grandpa. We have to make it to the top,” he said. I assured him that we were almost there.

Upon reaching the summit, Mason found a rocky promontory for us to sit and enjoy the view. We drank plenty of water and ate snacks as a cool breeze dried our sweaty shirts. We shared the summit with half a dozen other hikers. During the long descent back to the parking lot, we passed 59 other hikers on their way up. Mason kept count. We were both glad to be finishing our hike as the temperature reached 80 degrees. We hopped in the car and went to Jaffrey for lunch.

“So what are we going to do for my ninth birthday?” Mason asked. I just smiled, being careful not to overcommit. Then I told him that I’d think of something.


Comments Off on Mason Climbs Monadnock

May 28 2012

Profile Image of Walt

A Crazed Bushwhack

Filed under Blog Post

At first I was only looking for a place to go for an easy day hike, but when I saw Bone Mountain on the map, I felt an old, familiar urge to push myself to the limit again. So I grabbed my rucksack, loaded my dog Matika into the car and headed for that rugged high ground.

There are no trails to Bone but a brook tumbles from a notch between that peak and Woodward. I tagged the brook and followed it until I was a mile or so away from the road.

As I recalled from a bushwhack many years earlier, the notch between Bone and Woodward is so cluttered with rocks and fallen trees that one can’t actually touch the ground while traversing it. Not good for my dog, so I left the brook long before reaching the notch. I started moving uphill through the trackless forest, following a compass bearing east southeast, towards a shoulder of the mountain.

Hobbled by hobblebush, sweating profusely, and stopping frequently to catch my breath, the climb was as hard as any climb can be. More than once I dropped onto all fours to negotiate steep pitches. Matika did better than me as a rule, but it took my eye to find a route up through cliff walls. When finally we reached the summit, we were both played out and running low on water. That’s when I caught a glimpse through the trees of another peak half a mile away – one that looked more like Bone than the summit I was standing on.

Bone Mountain has taken on religious significance for me over the years precisely because it’s so damned hard to reach. I’ve only been on top of it a few times, having missed it more often than not. As I sat on that false summit, stewing in humility, I realized that I’d missed it again.

The descent was long, steep, and hard on the knees. Once I had to rescue my dog from a cliff’s edge where she got stuck. After that it was a tiring slog down to the brook that took us out.  I was happy to see the car again, but just as happy to have done the bushwhack. After all, I got what I was after.


Comments Off on A Crazed Bushwhack