Apparently I’m horrible at keeping goals lately – I only shared 5/23 times last month AND I wrote 6 posts that I never hit publish on because I was too lazy to upload photographs. Palm of hand to forehead! So, I’m trying again.
A few weeks ago Paula and I headed back north to the White Mountains. She’s so darn close to finishing! This trip brought her to 46/48, with plans on finishing this October. I so desperately want to finish with her, but it’s about the journey and I feel like if I rush it, I won’t enjoy it. Hopefully I’ll be with her to see her finish – and the same for me, whenever that happens.
We drove up Friday after work and stayed in the Stonybrook Motel & Lodge in Franconia, as Paula’s been camping a lot this summer and wanted something easy. Deal! I slept well and was up around 6AM, as our goal was to be out of the room by 7AM. I ate my usual soup and paired it with Snyder’s pretzel bites, so good! Before I knew it, we were dressed, packed and on the road. We took a less popular route up Passaconaway because it was a damp morning (it had rained overnight) and didn’t want to climb the cliffs wet. Okay! We parked off of 112 and headed up the Oliverian Brook Trail at 7:45AM. The trail was super easy, a nice warm up for the day. Here’s a look at our route (thank you Internet):
The weather was cool, humid but cool, which made it easier for me to move along the trail. I felt soaked: I was sweating, everything on the trail was wet and a lot of it would drip down with each gust of wind. We stopped around ten thirty for a quick snack – homemade zucchini banana muffins for me – at the Walden Trail junction. That’s when I remember the trail really starting to climb but totally doable; slow and steady. We reached the summit of Mount Passaconaway at 11:14AM with no views whatsoever.
We descended down the opposite side of the Walden Trail and took a right down Dicey’s Mill to Rollins Trail. Paula mentioned that we were walking along the ridge of The Bowl – an area of forest that has never been logged – and that the views are usually spectacular. Unfortunately still no views. I knew we had more than a mile to travel and was just waiting for the climb to get harder. I felt swift but my stomach started to grumble, so we stopped and ate lunch on the trail: hummus with Wasa crackers and seitan slices for me! Within five minutes, a woman hiking solo approached us from the direction we were headed and said we only had a quarter mile to go! We were shocked but thrilled and were even more so when we reached the summit, easy peasy! 1:51PM
The hike down the Rollins trail over to the Kate Sleeper Trail was also easy-going and I remember being in good spirits. Once we hit the Downes Brook Trail: instant pout-y face. It wasn’t the trail, it was me. See, I’ve been avoiding buying a new pair of hiking boots but all of that procrastination resulted in me being MISERABLE during the last 1/3 of this hike. My feet hurt SO bad – the insoles are paper thin and I can feel every pebble under my feet. In addition, I no longer have any tread of those boots. I know how important it is to support your feet, but those boots, I love those boots. No blisters, they keep my feet warm even in the sub-zero temperatures, and we’ve reached many summits together. But in those five minutes into the Downes Brook Trail, I wanted to rip those boots off and crawl the 5 miles or so out to the car, ha! There was a lot of blow-down on this trail, you can tell it’s not as popular as others, but very easy to follow. And you do have to cross the brook about ten times, which wasn’t an issue this trip because the water was low and the rock hopping was easy. At one point I mentioned to Paula that I just wanted to take my boots off and soak my toes – she suggested we wait until we got closer to the road. But that never happened. And when we did reach the road, we were SWARMED with mosquitoes! Never in the years that I’ve been hiking had I seen so many aggressive little buggers! I was miserable, I was tired and I was trying my hardest to hitch a ride but no one stopped. So we walked the mile or so on the road until we reached the car at 5:46PM. You can tell I wasn’t so happy because of the lack of photographs 🙂
I immediately ripped my boots off, rubbed on some oils and gave my poor toes a massage. I learned a very valuable lesson during this hike and have already placed an order for a new pair – unfortunately Salomon doesn’t make the same ones anymore but I’m sticking with that brand hoping that the fit is similar. Fingers crossed!
I don’t remember the exact mileage but I do know it was 15+ (not 19 like shown above) and it took us 10 hours, including all of our stops. Oh! And I forgot to mention – the Downes Brook Trail had so much moose poop on it! So much so, we thought we’d run into one eventually. Occasionally we’d stop to listen and look around, hoping one would stop by the brook for a drink of water. No such luck, even when we smelled what could have been a bear. It was a nice hike despite my boot problem and I’d recommend this route, especially if you’re looking to avoid the cliffs. 2/21