Hey man I was thinking of going to Mt. Carrigain, do you want to go too? That's basically how Puma concolor invited me along on a hike, and how I came to meet a fellow Eastern Summitpost member. I think this trip report will show why Summitpost is a great site. It allowed us, two peakbaggers, who wouldn't have known each other otherwise, to meet for the first time, and go climb a mountain in NH.
I think over time Puma and myself got to know each other through the Eastern discussion board here on Summitpost, and maybe through some probably idiotic discussions in the pratte and prattle forum. I think I started asking him questions about State highpoints, which we are both after, and I always got a quick, friendly response from him. I noticed he had already completed 3 Northeast peakbagging lists I am pursuing: the ADK 46, the NH 48, and the Catskill 3500, as well as the Northeast 115. So I would often badger him about that stuff, and I always got a nice response from him.
I've been going to the mountains now for only 4 years, but I think I have done a decent amount of stuff considering my location here in NJ. Yet I think with the exception of the first mountain I climbed, one trip where a friend went with me (who turned back on Mt. Marcy while I continued on), and a couple of hikes with my sister and brother-in-law from Alaska, everything I've done has been solo. I don't mind it so much, but still sometimes you would like someone else along. I think I asked Puma over the summer and fall a couple of times to go hiking in NY or NH, but it didn't work out. So I was surprised one day to get a message one day from him asking about a Mt. Carrigain hike.
It was what I needed at the time, to go to NH one last time for the year. I was waiting for a warm spell like there was the previous year, and I would have missed out, because there was none last year in November. So it was good Puma got me to go. I was in a crummy situation where my roommates moved out, and I didn't have a phone for awhile, nor a computer. I was using the computer at the library when I got the message from Puma. I knew right away my answer was yes. I needed the mountains.
His plans were to go on a Monday, and he asked me about a week before. I would have to call out of work for Sunday night, which I had NO problem doing. I needed to go up the day before, and sleep somewhere in NH. I wasn't about to try and drive a long ways, and then go hike, not with snow on the mountain. He said he was just going to drive up and sleep at the trailhead, which I thought was crazy. I said let's just stay at the Econo Lodge in Lincoln. He mentioned staying in North Conway, and I said okay. We winded up staying at the Econo Lodge anyways when the place in North Conway was all booked up.
I've been pretty much a seasonal hiker, not really going out in the winter so far. Though I had just got back from Alaska a few weeks before this, where I did some hiking in the snow. I told Puma that I had some crampons that I haven't used, and no snowshoes. He was pretty confident that we would be able to bareboot it from when we first started making plans. We then had some discussions about the weather. I said I really didn't want to drive up there for a cloudy day with no views. As the week went along the forecast continued to look good for our day though. We both spotted a posting on Views From the Top about someone who went up Mt. Carrigain recently who said the trail was good with the snow. So it was all systems go at that point.
Before the Climb
I left in the early afternoon on Sunday, yet it took me longer than I wanted to make it to Lincoln. It was dark already, and I couldn't see the tops of the mountains to see how much snow there was. Puma said he was going to arrive late. I got something to eat at the pizza place nearby, and went to the gas station that has NH beer which I previously discovered on another trip. Last time I got some Woodstock Inn beer, this time I got some Tuckerman Pale Ale, which I surprised Puma with the next day after the hike. When I was paying for the beer, the cashier mentioned the cold, and I said yeah tomorrow I'll be climbing in it.
Puma finally showed up and said it's not really that cold out, is it? I was thinking just the opposite! I wasn't used to the cold yet, it was still mild in NJ for the most part. We talked a bit, and then decided to get some sleep for an early start. He asked if I wanted to eat in the morning, and I said yes. He didn't care either way. I try to eat a breakfast before hiking, didn't he read my Mt. Haystack trip report about not having energy!
I really couldn't get a good night's sleep, yet he fell asleep right away, and said he had no problems sleeping. Oh well, it wouldn't be the first time I went hiking tired, that's for sure. I remembered this little restaurant in Twin Mountain that had breakfast, so I figured we would go there. The only problem was they were not open when we got there. There's really no place to eat around there early in the morning. We drove around and found nothing. I ended up getting a cup of coffee and a packet of doughnuts at a gas station. Not exactly the breakfast I had in mind.
To me it was cold in the morning. I was just hoping I wouldn't freeze up on him on the mountain. Here I was, finally with a partner, so the last thing I wanted was to be a disappointment. I wore MANY layers of clothes to keep myself warm. I had to make the top of that mountain! We put on our packs and we were off.
Puma blazed on up ahead, and I followed behind him. He likes to just go, whereas I usually take my time in the beginning. I try and take a lot of pictures, but he was all about the business at hand. One guy came up from behind us, passed us, and we didn't see him again that day. Where did he continue on to? Anyway we made a real good pace to the start of the snow and ice on the trail.
There were maybe three parts of the trail, before it really became all snow, where there was some ice to work around. One section took some care to get around it; it wasn't a big deal, but I was thinking what if it is worse further along? I said something about when we come back down that could be tough, because it was going uphill. Puma said we'll deal with that when the time comes. I thought that was cool. It made me forget it, and we continued on.
Soon the snow took over the trail, and the sun started to really come out too. It was some nice hiking. The snow was packed down good, the trail was easy to follow, and it started to warm up where we could remove some layers. I was glad I agreed to come. What was the top of the ridge going to be like, and were the views going to be good? Soon we found the answer to that.
We got to the first viewpoint on the ridge, and were rewarded with a fantastic view of Mt. Washington. It was awesome! We both took out our cameras, though I had been taking some pictures the whole time, and got some good photos of the highpoint. It was good to be on the ridge with some views. We then made it to a point where you can finally see the summit block and observation tower. At this point I knew we were going to be there shortly, and we were definitely going to make the top. I thought maybe there would be some steep sections near the top, but you could see the rest of the climb basically before you. It was on towards the summit!
Here I became excited and blazed out in front of Puma. The views gave me some energy, and I was eager to make it to the top. I liked the final push to the summit. You go back into the trees once again after a partially opened ridge. The trees are covered with snow, and were pushing in on the trail. Everything was white, it was very beautiful. I made it to the observation tower, and waited for Puma to come up the trail.
friend of ours
We go up the tower, and there's a bird there that wants it's picture taken. We both complied. He didn't seem to mind us being there at all. It was neat! The views from the tower were GREAT. We spent some time there taking it all in. I was looking at everything when I reminded him that he basically climbed everything in our sight. To me that is awesome. I want to be able to say that too some day. After awhile we decided to go back down.
There wasn't any real problems at all going down. We ran into some hikers that were on their way up. One funny thing happened though. There was this one large
dude going up the trail with only a T-shirt on! I remarked to Puma, did you see that guy? He said yeah, only a T-shirt and still sweating like a hog! He was too! That was something.
We made it back to our cars where I gave Puma some of the Tuckerman Pale Ale. It was some good beer, he'll tell you too. I wanted to get something to eat. We went back to Twin Mountain, and the restaurant was still closed. It's closed all day on Mondays. What the hell! I wanted to buy us some lunch. Puma said he was going to head back home, so we said goodbye at that point.
I was in a good mood. I didn't have to rush back home, for it was my night off. I went back to Lincoln for the pizza place. I got myself a big pasta dinner; that was very good. Now I was ready to take my time going back home. My phone rang, and I answered it without looking to see who was calling. Big Mistake! It was work. NO! They needed me to come in that night. This was my night off, it was already into the afternoon. Dammit! That means like 2 hours of sleep, then work, after climbing a mountain and driving 7 hours. The crazy part was that I somehow did just that. It sucked but I managed to sleep like 15 hours the next day. All in all it was a good time. Wouldn't you agree?