Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mount Tecumseh Hike - NH 4000 footers

Hiking is one of my favorite things... Especially in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  We New Englanders may not have the elevation and peaks of the West, but we have some pretty beautiful trails with some spectacular views.  Size ain't everything, people!

One of my goals is to get out and do some more hiking in the whites, especially the 4,000 footers in New Hampshire.  There is just nothing better than a few hours in the woods.  And I love me a good checklist.  

I am beyond lucky to have fabulous like-minded friends to share these adventures with.  A quick "let's do this!" moment at work, a consult of our schedules, and we were off!  December 1 was our chosen inaugural hike, and we chose Mount Tecumseh to start with.  (We have both climbed some of the others separately in the past). Tecumseh is below tree line and was one of the shorter drives, perfect choice to start off the season.  

Our weather forecast wasn't the greatest - 40 mph winds and chance of showers.  But temps in the 40s, extremely mild!  We decided to pack up and go for it, and take our chances.  

The winter trailhead for Mt. Tecumseh is at Waterville Valley ski resort, across from parking area #1.  Easy to find!  Tripoli road is closed in the winter, which leads to the other trailhead.  

We hit the trail around 9:45 am.  Slushy, well packed down trails.  Very moderate terrain, gradually climbing. 

It was warm once we got moving!  Shed some layers quickly.  The trail is very protected from the wind most of the way, which made it very comfortable.  
Couple of stream crossings along the way, easy to navigate but the micro spikes made it a little tricky.  Trekking poles for balance would have been helpful.  Last time I leave those behind!

The trail was a moderate, steady climb, 2.5 miles to the summit.  Slushy but not terribly icy given the warmer temps.  I wore my micro spikes which worked great.  The slush was a challenge at times, it felt like we were climbing in sand!  Tecumseh is "only" 4,003 feet, so we were below tree line and protected from the wind most of the way.  This is a great hike to try out in winter conditions if you are new to it.  We were over prepared of course;  any time you head out for a hike in the winter, especially in the whites, you NEED to be.  Pretend you will be stranded and pack accordingly.  Anything can happen - do your research and be prepared!

The summit was foggy, windy, and chilly.  Grey skies for days.....  No views for us!  We hunkered down on a rock and ate our pb&j's.  Freaking gourmet.  I was ready to start chewing on my own arm at that point, I would have eaten the foil my sandwich was wrapped in and been happy.

The way down was a little slow going;  we didn't bring our trekking poles, and definitely could have used them to speed up the descent!  Note to self - bring 'em next time.   We climbed up the Tecumseh trail (yellow blazes) and descended off the summit via the Sosman trail (blue blazed).  The Sosman trail seemed to be the easier of the two options.

   Done! :). Around 3 hrs and 45 mins, including our lunch and picture breaks :)

We had a great hike, and were super happy we took our chances on the forecast.  We celebrated with a bowl of soup and a beer at Six Burner Bistro in Plymouth NH ( It was a great little place, very cozy and the food,was delicious!  I highly recommend it.  We pretty much had the place to ourselves, since it was late afternoon on a Monday.  

     Crab and corn chowder and a tuckerman's? Yes please!

Success!  Tecumseh checked off the list.  Time to consult the map and plan our next adventure.  

What is your favorite "off-season" fun?  Favorite 4,000 footer and why??

NH hiking resources:

Weather -

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Angel Ride 2016 - A Magical Weekend!

2016 was my first year as an Angel Rider.  Let's just say... It definitely won't be my last.   

On Memorial Day Weekend I took to the roads with 600 cyclists and volunteers on a mission to help bring joy, fun and smiles to kids with serious illnesses by raising money for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp's Hospital Outreach Program.  I pedaled.... I sweated.... I smiled.... and I will forever be grateful for this amazing experience.  

Here is a little recap for your viewing pleasure.  Enjoy!

The Start

The Saturday start was at the Yale Summer Music School in Norfolk, CT.  Beautiful.   I got a ride to the start from my awesome husband and was all types of nervous.  Where do I go? Where do we park?  What do I do when I get there?.  Advice to incoming newbies - Chill. Out.   We got there at 6:15 AM and there was PLENTY of time to check in and figure out what was what.  Your bags get sorted on the lawn based on where you are staying at camp, easy peasy.  There is a big rack for the bikes.  There is a big tent with a delicious breakfast for you to enjoy.  All low stress and easy to navigate.  I even met Lynn, who is in charge of the ride, while walking from the car.  I also met Angel, (THE Angel) a former camper and current nurse who the ride is named for and who came up with the crazy awesome idea for this crazy awesome ride, while I was checking in.  I bounced up to both of them like the giant golden-retriever-puppy version of a human that I am (minus the drool - I think) to say hi.  They were so nice - theme of the weekend - everyone is beyond nice.

The Ride (Saturday - 85 miles)

Saturday's ride was amazing.  And hot.  Like, STEAMING hot.  High of 95 degrees, in Connecticut, in May.  I'm not sure why Mother Nature was trying to kill us.  Thankfully, the team of tireless volunteers thwarted her best efforts.  Take that, nature.  The route was beautiful, scenic, and hilly.  FULL. OF. HILLS.  The Northwest corner of the state is no joke. The finish riding into the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp grounds with riders and volunteers cheering was emotional, and great on many levels. And not just because I was finally done. (Ok - a lot because I was finally done.)  But also because I had made it!  And my struggles for the day paled in comparison to those faced by the kids who would soon be at this very camp.  It is humbling and inspiring.  

go bright or go home!

The Camp

The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is a pretty spectacular place.   Founded in 1988 by Paul Newman, it is a place for seriously ill children and their families to safely enjoy a camp experience and just be kids.  I was super excited to finally be able to see the camp, since "outsiders" are rarely allowed access.  What a special place!

We were treated to a delicious dinner, ice cream, and a show in the theater which included some volunteer recognition, info about the Hospital Outreach Program (HOP) we were supporting, a FABULOUS dance-off by two HOP/Camp alums, and a magic show (complete with a cameo by yours truly, who got pulled up on stage to do a rope trick.  I'm a natural!). We slept in camper cabins and in a lodge used by staff when camp is in session. Very cool!

Oh-Oh-Oh it's Maaaaagic... get my pun in the post title?  get it?

Where I got to stay!

Outside the dining hall

Our fife and drum co. wake up :)
 The Ride (Sunday - 50 miles)

Sunday's ride as not nearly as hot or hilly as Saturday (Thank. God.).  We met in the center of camp for some announcements, the National Anthem, and a group photo.  The moto crew led us out again and 15-ish minutes later, we were off and rolling!  The route was rolling, scenic, and on my home turf which was nice.  The route into Mystic was on roads I ride often and know well, and it was nice to know what was coming.  I also had a cheering squad at the lunch stop at Hopeville State Park!  The last rest stop even gave us a set of wings to ride to the finish with.   

Riding through downtown Mystic during tourist season can be a little hairy - be prepared to be in some traffic for this section.  It's short, but full of cars and pedestrians who are more interested in looking for Mystic Pizza and selfie ops than looking out for the girl on a bike in the middle of the road with a helmet full of fake daisies.  (Seriously... you can't miss me.  Don't pretend like you can't see me).  Once you're through that mile, it's cruise time into the Mystic YMCA for the finish line party!!  We were again met with tons of great volunteers and a cookout :)  You can also buy some AngelRide merchandise here, and the YMCA was open to use the bathrooms and showers.  A very nice plus after a hot day on the bike. There is also a kid's ride at the YMCA on Sunday which was great to see, and a 22 mile shorter option from Hopeville to Mystic for anyone not able or willing to do the full 2 days or the 50 mile ride.  Lots of ways to get involved and ride!

The Volunteers

No recap would be complete without a huge THANK YOU to the volunteers.  The Angel Ride volunteers were AMAZING.  This dedicated bunch kept us safe, cool, fed, and smiling through some pretty challenging conditions.  The moto crew was fantastic! They led out each day's ride, manned every intersection, and maintained a constant presence on the route - making sure we were hydrated, safe, and had help if needed.  The bike tech crew was there to help with any mechanical needs (thank goodness I didn't need their help!). The "WINGS" support vehicles were everywhere as well, making sure anyone who needed help or a break with a quick lift in the car were quickly attended to.   At every rest stop there were smiling faces cheering us on, directing traffic, cooling us off and filling our water bottles.  All of these people gave up their holiday weekend to support the riders.  The happiness all around was palpable.  The cowbells were plentiful.  THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart.  You made a great thing even better.
The moto crew

If you couldn't tell, I loved every second of the ride and I will most definitely be back.  If you are any type of recreational athlete, I encourage you to seek out some sort of charity event. Doing something you love and giving back at the same time?  Priceless.  

I will leave you with some parting shots (courtesy of the HOP website) that say much more than any words I could put together.  This is why I ride.  This is what your donation money supports.  We are creating desperately needed laughter and smiles.  And there is still time, if you would like to donate.  Let's continue to create miles of smiles, together.