Hike: North Twin Mountain
Date: September 20, 2015
Location: Grafton County, NH
Distance: 8.6 miles
Time: 6:52 (47:54/mile)
Ugh. Blah. Congrats on being wrong, National Weather Service. It wasn’t a sunny start to part two of this unexpected hiking road trip. It was rainy and foggy, with a wet chill in the air. Our hotel window had a view of North Twin, today’s goal. Only, instead of sun and clouds, it was wet and we couldn’t even see the summit. If either of us pushed to cancel the hike, the other probably would’ve agreed to skip it, sleep in, and head home. But instead, we gamely got ready to tackle the mountain.
|Sara's expression tells you all you need to know about the weather. Ugh.|
After the prior day’s ten mile hike up Mount Carrigain left me with a second balky knee, we moved at a slower pace, with the wetness contributing to our slower pace. The stream crossings were running a little higher than normal from the overnight rain, and we needed some care in crossing them. But the flat leg of the hike still allowed for fairly good time. As predicted, the climb started right after the last crossing and we began sweating as we worked our way up the lengthy staircase.
|Sara found her route across one of North Twin's three river crossings. Yay!|
|What a beautiful view... the sunny day before.|
The wet cold had penetrated us both, but Sara was having a tougher time with it. She had packed in some added layers and stopped to swap out wet clothes for dry. I gave her my gloves to warm her hands because I’m a fantastic hiking partner and an even better guy (if I do say so myself), and in no time she was toasty and comfortable.
We finally found a nice boulder to sit on and eat lunch. But the weather left us wanting to soldier on. My knees had this pre-ache feeling, as if they were just waiting to flare up again. Sara trudged on ahead of me, finding it painful to watch me. I used my hiking poles, limped, alternated which leg I’d use to take initial steps down, took weird lines to keep my legs as comfortably straight as possible, and even walked sideways for a quarter-mile to compensate for the movements that hurt the most. My wipeout protected my knees but left me with a wet derriere. With the weather and distance between us, we walked in much more silence than the day before.
|Sara navigated all three river crossings really well. Me? Not quite so lucky (or skilled)!|
Arriving at the second crossing, I remembered a blogger I read the night before, who fell in on this crossing, with onlookers witnessing his fiasco. I used extra care as I worked my way along, but nevertheless slipped myself, and immersed my left leg. I hate-hate-hate wet shoes, with squishiness on every stride. I found myself stuck, on all fours, except for the wet one thrashing in the air as if I were a bucking bronco. But luckily my waterproof boot and the gator to keep my lower legs dry actually kept my foot almost completely dry. Sara laughed but luckily just missed capturing the fall on camera. She used to be more nervous on downhills and water crossings, but has grown a confidence that matches her skills, as evidenced by her effortless crossing and dry clothes.
We finished off the hike at a fast clip and without further incident. After high-fives, changing into dry clothes, cranking the pickup’s heater, and grabbing drinks at a convenience store, we headed home. Not every hike can be beautiful or phenomenal. But hikers hike, and we’ve now hiked 31 summits. We might have one hiking weekend left in the season, and are finding glad we made the most of our spontaneous trip into the Whites!
See you on the trail,
Jay Bell, AKA Rock Hopper