The Whole Picture is Nothing But a Compilation of Details.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Itchy Feet

I've taken at least one Big Trip abroad every year for the past twenty years: I've visited South and Central America, Europe, and the West Indies multiple times. So at the beginning of this year I decided to play on home turf until the autumn at least, save some money, explore New England, so rich in resources, perhaps even some other parts of this enormous continent. I was very pleased with my decision in no small part due to the fact that I've lived here since 1994, love it, yet barely seen the Statue of Liberty. Then again, she's not quite my cup of tea.

The Statue and other man-made attractions aside, New England is truly a fantastic place: I visited Connecticut, went skiing and bagged eight 4000' peaks in the Presidential Range in the first ten weeks. Now of course I'm in aggressive acupuncture treatment for acute tendinitis in my glutes and hamstrings...

North Carolina was next on the list but this got sidelined by a few curve balls. The most difficult one to contend with was my itchy feet.  They drove me crazy with their loud complaints: they desperately needed to get scratched by foreign soil. In addition, my soul was starving for another language and a different currency, new people, other food, and that great unknown factor. I immediately saw an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

I started talking to people. A friend at work suggested Spain; I thought Italy or perhaps Chile again; I ran into an old friend and told him my dilemma: "I have time off but need a destination". Five days later he sent this message: "Destination: I know a place that's simple yet luxurious, usually decent waves, not much else to do but swing in a hammock or chase ghost crabs."

Courtesy of Los Cardones Ecolodge
I didn't need to hear too much more and when he added that a mutual friend with a house one mile from the beach needed someone to look after his dog and take care of the house the deal was sealed.

Nicaragua next.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bagging More Presidential Peaks

Despite predictions of sunshine and endless visibility, we arrived to a Crawford Notch cloaked in raw air and fog. After adding a layer or two of clothing we started up a packed yet soft Webster-Jackson trail and quickly learned the hard way that stepping off the "monorail" landed you one-legged in hip-deep snow, adding to our hike an extraordinary element of surprise. Navigating the narrow and unpredictable trail was much like walking through a fun-house where you didn't know if, or rather when, the floor would give way: Suddenly the path would just disappear under our feet, sending us two to three feet deep into the soft snow and into fits of laughter, rendering us one-legged and trapped. 

Accompanied by birdsong and the murmur of water gushing underfoot we soon emerged from the clouds that had settled in the valley, and reached the summit of Mt. Jackson (4052') under clear-blue skies and with a remarkable lack of snow. Four Canadian Jays were quick to greet us and happy to eat our offerings of chocolate chip pancakes and crackers straight out of our hands. Crazy birds.

When the birds had had enough, we picked up the Webster Cliff trail and followed it NNE for 2.6 miles, meandering in and out of the treeline on legs stiff from the break, post-holing and laughing all the way to Mt. Jackson (4312'), our second 4000' of the day and my eighth in ten weeks.

Over Vermont cheddar cheese and summer sausage I suggested adding 2.7 miles to the day and bag Mt. Eisenhower (4760') as well, but my proposal was voted down, two to one. Probably for the better, but I reasoned that since we were already at 4312' it would be a walk in the park. I digress. 
Instead, and according to the original plan, we descended the 3.5  miles on Crawford Path and felt good about our nine miles and two 4000' peaks as we approached the trail head. Then suddenly three guys came running down the path behind us and hit the trail head just before us, high-fiving each other for having done the entire Presidential Range and eight peaks in 8hrs and 40 minutes; a hike most people do over a couple of days.

Everything is relative.    Click HERE  for more photos.