Tuesday, September 7, 2010

9-7-10: Lovely Long Weekend in the White Mountains

I don’t remember exactly when I last visited the White Mountains. I spent 9 years of my childhood growing up in Durham, NH, which isn’t that close to the White Mountains, but is close enough for the occasional visit. I remember going to Santa’s Village and Storyland. Fond memories of that. I remember the Old Man, the state’s symbol, may it rest in peace. I don’t remember it, but I did ride on the Cog Railway up Mount Washington. All memories of the area are good ones.

I was therefore quite excited to visit it again this past weekend with the lady and several friends. Six of us stayed at Crawford Notch General Store and Campground from Friday to Monday for the long Labor Day Weekend. The plan was to do some hiking. And that we did.

The weather was mostly pristine. It rained on Friday night, but we were safe and dry in our tents. It was rather warm that night, which made for rough sleeping. Saturday and Sunday were beautiful, though. Great hiking weather.

We decided to do two day hikes, one long and one short. The long one, done on Saturday, hit three 4000 footers: Mount Willey, Mount Field, and Mount Tom. The first part of the hike was a rather steep ascent up Mount Willey, the highest of the three peaks. That got rough in parts, with quite a bit of rock scrambling. But, after some turmoil but progress, we reached the top in time to enjoy a scenic lunch in the clouds. The rest of the day was much easier, as we hiked along the ridge to Mount Field. The weather turned a bit once we reached Mount Field, with some wind and light rain, but we had a nice view of the Mount Washington Hotel from the peak. Mount Tom was next, though I cannot say I made it, as one of my friends had bad knees and I joined him down the mountain. The Mount Tom Spur is not a difficult hike, but it was a bit much for my friend, and my leg wasn’t 100% either, so we retreated slightly early down the mountain. The hike began at Willey House, and ended near Saco Lake. We had two cars at each end. Easy swap.

Saturday night, after a good day of hiking, we ate at Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery in North Conway. What a fantastic decision that turned out to be. If you’re ever in the area, be sure to stop by. The reviews, which are great, don’t give it justice. Not only do they brew their own very good beer on site ($4 a pint), but their food is excellent. Since most of the group consisted of men in their 20’s, we got the Family Barbecue. For $15 a person, we ate like kings, dining on ribs (1.5 racks for 5 people… but still a good amount), beef brisket, mashed potatoes, cornbread, chicken, pulled pork, and rice and beans. Oh, and it was all-you-can-eat (except for the ribs). Our waiter was also great. We rolled back into the cars back to the campground.

Sunday’s hike was Arethusa Falls. My leg was quite sore, but I got to enjoy the falls from the top after a bit of scrambling on an unmarked trail. Stunning view. I spent part of the afternoon chopping up some firewood from fallen birch trees. I split a rock in half trying to break one. Had to take a hatched to weaken it up enough to break it in pieces with half of the broken rock. Good fun.

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