Saturday, August 17, 2013

Moosilauke

8/14: We climbed Mt. Moosilauke, which goes up 3,600 feet in 6 miles, and then sharply descends back down. The steepest downhill going down 2,200 feet in a mile and a half. 

"I just realized that a waterfall is just a vertical river!"
-Catch

"I just realized that pizza is just bread and cheese!"
-Catch

---

"You have two options leaving here: you can go right to follow the road back to the trailhead and cross the river, but since it rained the river is probably totally overflowing. Or, you can wimp out, go left, and take the side road up the hill to skip a half a mile and avoid the river. The choice is yours."

These words haunted my mind as I stared at the wide, unrelenting river in front of me. There were stepping stones, but they were nearly submerged and only made it halfway across the water before disappearing completely. Catch, Whistle, Dumptruck and I had all reached the river at the same time, and were all equally flummoxed. 

Catch's eyes alighted upon a dull pink steel chair that was sitting in the brush on the side of the river.

"I'm gonna make my own stepping stone!" He announced excitedly, grabbing the chair, walking out to the last possible stepping stone, and attempting to place the chair's spindly pink legs into the whoosing water and amongst the hundreds of slippery rocks underneath. It immediately fell over, into the water and out of reach.

"Dumptruck!" he cried, like a surgeon calling for a scalpel, "trekking pole!"

Dumptruck picked up one of Catch's poles he had abandoned on the shore, took careful aim, and javelined it over to Catch. In what was bound to be the last cool moment in this debacle, Catch caught the trekking pole in midair, like an action hero catching the thrown shotgun to take out the last ne'er-do-well bandit. He poked the end of the trekking pole through the rungs on the back of the chair, dragging it back to himself inch by inch through the water. 

He managed to get the chair upright and stationary, and attempted to put his weight on it. His hesitation caused the chair to tip backward once he had his feet on it, depositing him once more onto the rock from whence he'd come. Undetered, Catch simply repositioned the chair, jiggling it to nestle the legs more satsifyingly between the smooth stones underneath.

He took one step forward onto the chair, balancing his weight and looking across the river at the unattainable goal ahead. Somewhere to his right were the sounds of Whistle, alternatively muttering to herself and making squeaky muppet sounds as, upsteam, she tried to ford the river over a very slippery log through unending branches whacking her in the face and impeding her progress. Catch, meanwhile, took a wild leap forward, stretching his long legs out at long as they'd go. The pink chair tipped forward with his momentum, depositing his left foot into the river, but allowing him to scramble up onto a small fallen tree that lay perpendicular across the river. Not to be caught in hesitancy again, Catch never ceased moving, launching himself forward with all of his power, and, miraculously, landing on the opposite shore.

Whistle also acheived her goal, and Dumptruck and I clapped for both of them. Our clapping slowed as we realized we were both now faced with the same conundrum. On this day we had a gigantic mountain to climb, and no one wanted wet feet. Dumptruck decided he was going for the Whistle log, and he made his way upriver to that crossing. I, meanwhile, wasn't going to futz around. Ieaned down, took off my shoes and socks, tied them to my backpack, and splashed into the water barefoot. 

The water was freezing, and swirled around my knees as I carefully picked my way through the slippery rocks under my screaming toes. I made it across without incident, through was met with a steep, 5-foot muddy incline on the opposite shore. I tried to climb up, but started to fall backward, making my own involuntary muppet sounds. Catch caught my hand before I fell back into the river, a complement to his earlier action heroics. Apparently Catch's super power is catching things, which is only appropriate. He pulled me up the embankment, where I dried my feet as well as I could with a bandana. Shoes replaced, we prepared for the climb ahead. 

The Hunger came upon the river just as we were leaving, and got his feet soaking wet in his attempt to cross. He made it, but his feet were set to be pickled in his shoes throughout the day. 

The climb up Moosilauke was tough but awesome, and the temperature on an inverse scale with elevation. We emerged above tree-line, the alpine scrub brush whipping in the intense wind. The world was gray in every direction, the peak an island in a sea of fog. We crouched down behind some rock cairns and ate lunch, hiding from the wind and hoping for a break in the weather. I opened up a bag with a bakery croissant, and a small tupperware with egg salad I had bought from a deli the day before. I had been excited for this lunch, and happily peeled back the tupperware lid, licking the fluffy yellow egg salad off the plastic where it had stuck. 

The flavor was odd. I turned over the lid, swallowing. The "fresh deli" tag told me in small, unimposing numbers, that the concoction had been made on 8/6/13. It was currently 8/14/13. I coughed, replaced the lid gingerly, and buried it in my food bag where it would remain, moldering an forgotten, for another 4 days. Instead for lunch I just took bites out of a block of cheese.

Patience rewarded us as the clouds peeled away from the mountain, the gray canvas giving way to a painted rendering of an ocean of trees. We could see for miles in every direction, the world stretched out as a green and brown patchwork blanket of earth. The Hunger was shivering somewhat violently, so after appreciating the glory of altitude, we started our descent back into the trees. 

Going down was so steep that there were wooden planks and iron rebar drilled into the smooth, wet stone. I assume these things exist so that hikers don't have to carry climbing gear. Several sections required us to grab onto an iron wrung and swing across a vertical face of stone, over open space between two wooden step planks. I felt exactly like I was in a 2-D side-scroll Nintendo video game from 1993. The only thing missing was a giant monkey throwing barrels down at us from the top of the mountain.

The whole nearly vertical descent went down alongside a long, gorgeous waterfall. The group of us went down slowly and steadily, each of us careful not to bump into the person ahead and cause a domino cascade of humans tumbling down the mountain. 

At the bottom, we crossed over a road, staring up at the gorgeous and mammoth mountain range ahead of us. We had officially entered into the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where an adventure waited to grab our hands and throw us into the air.

Love,
Clever Girl

Us with 2 members of Funky Town (Fire Hazard and Sherwin) making Pride!






The Hunger, and Catch the Model



Catch changing into warmer clothing





Down the mountain



Tiny Whistle


This is in regard to the downhill

4 comments:

  1. Beautiful pictures of the falls! You guys are so close to your goal! I put a shout out on my blog about your wonderful blog! You have to turn this into a book when all is said and done! Give Whistle a hug and kiss for me and hugs to all of you also! Stay well and take care of each other!
    Love,
    Aunt Tery :)

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  2. Love the pictures of hiding out in the cairn. Looks like a stone igloo with the top blown off! So much fun to see you today...can't wait for next get together...soon we hope! Be safe up Mt Washington and throughout the Whites. Think presidential thoughts! Love, Mom and Dad

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  3. The pictures are So beautiful! The rainbow is striking, good job. I'm so glad you did not eat the egg salad, I did not want to read about glitter or glue etc.

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  4. Let the climbs begin. So excited for you in moving to completion of your journey. The Whit Mountains are beautiful. The pictures are wonderful! Be safe, take your time and watch out for each other. Love you and miss you so much. Love Mom and dad

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