Hike #10: Mount Tom, Mount Field & Mount Avalon
Elevation: 4,051 (Tom); 4,340 (Field)
Date: August 13, 2013
Location: Crawford Notch, New Hampshire
Distance: 7.2 miles
Time: 4:56 (41:07/mile)
I think there’s always a point during a long vacation when you pass the halfway mark and realize you’re counting the days remaining instead of the days gone by; when you start thinking about the work coming up instead of the work you left behind; and when you start thinking about the best way to spend the remaining time.
This was the context when Sara and I awoke on a cool day that reminded us that it wasn’t just our vacation winding down, but summer as well. While it would have been nice to stay under the covers, we wanted to make the most of the time we had left. So by 10:00 a.m. we’d already gotten ready, driven through Crawford Notch, and had time for Sara to ask an Appalachian Mountain Club employee to help her figure out where the trailhead was while I dilly-dallied in the truck in order to not lose Man Points by asking directions. As we set out, we quickly came to the booth that many trailheads have, although this had only warnings about leaving no trace and hikers’ responsibilities, but it lacked a map. Although we had one with us, it seemed markedly incomplete.
|Pop quiz: what's missing from this picture?|
I tried to lose myself in thought, but the main topic in my head wasn’t a pleasant one. An older woman hiking a long section of the Appalachian Trail became lost in Maine. Although she was very experienced, no one could find any trace of her despite being able to significantly narrow down the zone where rescuers were searching. At the previous intersection, Sara and I encountered a through-hiker heading from Maine to Georgia instead of the normal route from south to north. He was familiar with the area rescuers were focusing on and we speculated about what might have happened: here’s someone nearing the end of a great experience, who is well-seasoned in hiking, and is suddenly gone, leaving loved ones behind. Presumably, there was some point when she was hopelessly lost, with a series of increasingly panicked decisions and actions. After she was out of food and too weak to continue, she must have found herself at a point where she knew she was dying and left with the saddest of thoughts. Her tragedy unfolded in solitude, and constituted a morbid topic to focus on as I trudged ever higher, distracted from my discomfort by thoughts of someone’s much worse fate. A couple of months later, as of the writing of this, there’s still no sign of her.
That evening, after showering off the grime, we chowed pub food at the Red Parka, a place catering to locals and the après ski crowd. It had a casual and fun vibe, and we talked a little more about our hike, our possible upcoming lifestyle changes, bigger hikes next year, and the tasty microbrews in front of us. Alistair Humphreys is a guy who was recognized as National Geographic’s adventurer of the year. It wasn’t for something crazy such as a solo traverse of Antarctica by bike or crossing the Pacific in a raft pulled by dolphins or running seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Rather, it was for his premise of “micro-adventures”. This is basically about Average Joes trying to make the most of the time they have and the places they have access to. In essence, it was an award for promoting the very kinds of things we’re trying to do. Over the next several months, we’ll see how our own version of that winds up looking.
See you on the trail,
Jay Bell, AKA Rock Hopper