The Glen Boulder as seen from the trail of the same name
My girlfriend and I are training for a 30 mile hike around Four Pass Loop in Colorado near Aspen and Snowmass. I thought of a day hike we could use as a starting point for our training. I wanted to climb something that would simulate the feel of the Colorado Mountains so naturally here in New Hampshire, the closest thing is Mt. Washington. I didn't want to to deal with the crowds there so we chose an area near by. I sifted through my memory and I kept thinking of this giant boulder I had seen from New Hampshire's Route 16. For many years as I drove to Wildcat Ski Area I would look up the ridge just south of The Gulf of Slides and wonder just how big this giant boulder was that stood alone above treeline along The Glen Boulder Trail. It was decided, it was time to find out.
Sign at the trailhead
We rode along side the Harleys and Mini Coopers up Route 16 to the parking lot. This lot is also the same place people park to view Glen Ellis Falls or go to Lost Lake. We decided to go over to Lost Lake as a little side trip. My girlfriend loves the outdoors but has limited experience in trails around New England. The approach to the lake involves a water crossing. We hopped from bouder to rock, rock to boulder until we were safely across the raging rapids. Then we hiked up the easy trail to the beaver created, Lost lake.
Lost Lake, a great place to meditate
Lost lake is beautiful and I would highly recommend it as a short day hike. We then returned to the water crossing. Somehow the crossing wasn't so obvious as when we started. I went about half way across before I stopped and looked back to see my girl's progress. I could see her stopped before a four and a half foot jump onto a rounded boulder that was rather shiny from the water running by it. After a little coaching, she had enough courage to make the leap and courage was not enough. The first foot landed fine but the second foot came up short, shifting her balance back and with a big 'BLLLLOOOOOP' in she went, smacking her knee off the rock as she went. She quickly grabbed the boulder and pulled herself out and finished the trip to the car with a new 'sunburn' on her cheeks! but it wasn't sunny out. After changing her boots at the car and giving her some words of encouragement we started out on the Glen Boulder Trail. We planned a 6.4 mile round trip hike. Up to the junction of Glen Boulder Trail with Davis Path and back.
On top of The Glen Boulder
After fitting the day pack to my girlfriend and telling her it would help her cardio conditioning (Shhhh) we were on our way. After about a half mile we decided to stop for some water and a breather. Thats when we realized that although there were no hikers around, we were not alone
It looked like a diffuse greyish black moving cloud. They descended upon us quickly. The black flies were hungry and we were the food. However, Liz was getting over a cold and the Vicks Vapo Rub and Halls Cough Drops apparently weren't on their menu. Deet however was, and apparently it was like hot fudge on a sundae, 'cept I was the sundae. Needless to say these little buggers had an 'Eric tooth' better yet a 'DEET TOOTH'. As long as we kept moving I was fine but when I stopped, I became food! We made good time to the boulder and risked getting chowd, to have some ourself. After eating quickly we took a minute to boulder up the boulder for some primo photo ops and some great views
View from The Glen Boulder Trail The Gulf of Slides
We traveled over the rocky trail and to the small summit area marked only by a cairn. Then up to the junction of Davis Path and the northern edge of The Montalban Ridge. All around us and as far as the eye could see beautiful peaks faded into the distance in different shades of green, blue, gray then black. Cairns dotted the Davis Path and they faded off down the ridge making the trail for those who travel in less than ideal conditions. A few friendly hikers passed the "12.5 miles to NH route 302" sign and moved off in that direction with gusto. We just looked at them like they were crazy to be hiking that far at that time of day. Then we reminded ourselves thats about how far we will be going each day we are out in Colorado. We went back down, untrained legs wobbeling like 'al dente' spaghetti. When we arrived at the base we were happy with our first outing. It was encouraging for me to see my girlfriend's fortitude despite the earlier mishap. It's also funny that when we get tired, we forget how much work hiking can actually be. Thats why conditioning can be so important. If you are in good shape, you actually get to enjoy the view alot more because you aren't bogged down by the muscle soreness and the tachycardia of an out of shape heart. Slide Peak is a great intro to the alpine zone experience. Above treeline hiking with amazing views and generally less crowds than over at the highest peak in the northeast. Next time I go I'll remember the effect of menthol on the flies. Either that or I'll take the backpack and fall in the river! Til next time 'CLIMB ON'