Last weekend (okay two weekends ago now) I spent some time back up in the White Mountains with Paula and her brother Jeremy. They’re both actively working on their 48 4,000 Footers and I have an ultra to start training for, so I gladly tagged along. We drove up Saturday after work and stayed at his place in NH, and decided to hit the road early Sunday to climb. Our plan: to hike the Wildcats!Well, we showed up, took a short walk down to the Ellis River waterfall and realized we had missed the trail. Whoops! Once we realized what was next we turned around, literally, and headed back to the car. That was surely a first after ten minutes of walking! The river was high, pretty fast, and there wasn’t a safe way to cross. The decision was fairly easy for me, especially after getting back on dry land (I had hopped out onto a rock to show Paula it could be done, and was stuck there for a moment until I talked myself ((out loud)) to jump back onto a wet rock, with wet boots, to dry land). Change of plans: to hike Mount Cabot.
We were planning on hiking this mountain on Monday but decided to trek further north on Sunday because we knew what to expect and could complete it within daylight. Once arrived to the Berlin fish hatchery, we saw a sign that said the gate closed at 4PM… well, shucks. We parked and started a (longer) walk to the trailhead in the rain – 4 miles added on for the day. I took little photographs on the hike in because of the weather: it rained, it snowed/slushed and it even hailed at one point throughout the day. Random sight: there was a pit of moose remains. It smelled and was eery. I tried to take a photograph but I was too far away to see it clearly. Despite the trail being wet, I mean walking up streams and snow once we were high enough in elevation, our pace was pretty quick. And surprisingly I felt strong and moved with ease. I made a comment to Paula on the way out that I felt like I was floating across the terrain – something I rarely feel while hiking (especially on the downs); almost like a runner’s high during a long run. This was surprising because I haven’t been hiking much lately and with everything being wet, I’m usually very cautious and slow. The one obstacle that did slow us down was a water crossing fairly early on the trail. Because it had been raining, the water was a-flowing and there were no rock hops. So, we crawled over a couple of logs – phew! I don’t think any of us wanted to turned around for a second time that day.
Once on the summit, we did get a little view and quickly took our photos/selfies because the wind was strong and we were starting to feel a chill. Luckily, there’s a small cabin just shy of the summit, so we snuck in to add layers and eat a snack or two. We had passed a mother and daughter who camped out the night before and noted they woke up with the snow – I can only imagine how cold it must have been. I still need to practice more winter hiking before staying up above 4,000 feet.
About a mile from the car, the rain stopped and I made sure to grab a couple more photographs – including this pile of moose poop! My first time seeing it in person! Right on the side of the road… and shortly down, we found the tracks. There were a ton of water sources with it being a hatchery and with the sun setting, we were all scanning the edges for a moose with no luck. But I did check out the fish – I scared them and they scared me when I peeked my head in!
Oh, and also to note: it was 7PM when we got to the car and the gate was wide open… yeah, those extra four miles seemed to be for nothing. If you plan to hike this mountain, I’d read or call them to check their policy. It was a fairly easy hike and you could surely shave off a lot of time parking closer to the trailhead.
13.3 miles | just shy of 7 hours | 15/48 for me