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May 2016
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Thanksgiving 2014 – race report

Today I met up with a friend for a Turkey Trot in Acton.  My plan was to run with my friend and see how long I could hang with him.  But since he was running with a stroller, and etiquette requires strollers start at the back of the pack, I ended up switching plans at the starting line.  I was also unable to find my usual “pace pack” – no one admitted to actually having a race plan, they were also just planning to have fun or “see how it goes.”  Having done a negative split, 7-mile run last weekend that culminated in 7:30s, and consulting with Coach Brian before  I left, I figured I should target a 7:30 pace.

It was actually hard to go out fast.  The voices behind me were chittering about “no reason to sprint” and “let them go ahead” and “we don’t need to start to fast.”  I’m sure I cued into these voices as they echoed what was in my head – I’m used to holding back, pacing myself, saving it for the end.  But part of my goal in racing 5Ks is to NOT hold back – remember my Jan 1st goal?  Still working on it.  I kept telling myself it’s only a 20 min race, and I’m not known for my kick at the finish line so I might as well leave my effort out on the roads.  I immediately started picking off people and I felt very solid at the first mile, coming in at 7:46, so I kicked into a faster gear for the second mile.  I kept asking myself “can you go faster?”  I liked running the hills (albeit small ones) hard and I always was able to pass people on the downhills.  I tried not to let myself get focused on the next person ahead of me, but instead focus on someone even farther ahead whom I could reel in.  I pulled out a 7:24 second mile and then sped up just a bit more as I found someone to pace with in the last mile with a few surges. I finished in 23:19 (unofficial) – a 7:29 pace.

Reflections: A longer warmup is definitely better.  I felt good from the start, I certainly didn’t feel like I tired myself out, and it was nice to spend 20 min away from the crowds that tend to make me nervous.  I can definitely challenge myself more.  Next time I should target a faster just to see if I can do it – maybe part of the reason I feel like I’m at a fitness plateau is that I’m not continuing to push myself.  I don’t think I can sustain a 6:30 pace like I did at the end, but a 7-7:15 pace still seems comfortable. I like running with other people.  I didn’t feel particularly nervous about this race, so maybe that part is getting better!  And I really need to figure out how age group awards work.  I suspect I may have been top 3 in my age group but I was getting cold, I didn’t see any activity or organization indicating awards were imminent, so I decided to head home.  I look forward to seeing the results when they are posted.

Addendum: Hey, I won my age group!  Cool!  And I was pacing off a 14 year old for mile 3. (Wow, I’m soooo old.) But I have to say, those Marx youth team members are inspiring! We’ve seen them at several local races in their fierce orange jerseys.

Mother’s Day 2014

Today is Mother’s Day, carte blanche to do whatever I want, right? So I started by waking up at 5:30am to participate in the Walk for Peace, meeting up at church to carpool into Dorchester.  On our way, I saw the Mother Teresa church, a homage to one of one of the world’s most well known peacemakers, which started my mind on the transition to navigating an unfamiliar area in a different context.

As we walked through the neighborhoods, I chatted with other church members, and initially tried to stay tucked into our “pack” behind the First Parish Chelmsford sign, while trying to navigate a stroller around the crowds and potholes.  But after a while, I was able to let go of trying to stay close to the rest of my familiar group.  As our Religious Education director reminded me, part of the day is to mingle with other people, start up impromptu conversations, and observe.  We continued along the route as residents sat at their windows or on porches, many seeming unsure what to make of the 100s of people meandering along the street.  We waved and smiled, especially at the mothers and the children.  Cars passing by honked their horns in support.  I wondered how many people felt it ironic that a peace walk was loudly interrupting their morning quiet or blocking traffic along their way.  I didn’t feel like joining in on the bullhorn call-and-response of “what do we want?” “PEACE!” “when do we want it?” “NOW!” because peace, to me, is more quiet and introspective, not something to be demanded.  But to many of these people, peace is something they actively strive to foster on a daily basis, something they will shout and fight for.  There were dozens of people wearing T-shirts and carrying posters with pictures of loved ones, lost too young, to violence.  Some were victims of an attack or shooting, others the collateral damage of a broken life lived with guilt and sorrow that led to depression and even suicide. One speaker asked, responding to the familiar “RIP” next to the name of a departed loved one, “What about Live in Peace or Grow Up in Peace?”  Some people quietly held signs advocating peace and hope as they walked along.  A little farther down the road, the woman with the bullhorn changed up her questions, talking about the importance of forgiveness as part of working toward peace.

I could listen in on conversations, observe the architecture of the buildings, think about the economics of the area.  One block was full of Vietnamese signs, businesses and shops.  Not far away, I saw a market advertising Spanish, Portuguese, Latin American and Caribbean foods.  I thought about the different places that people came from, all living together in close proximity, probably bringing different ideas of culture, ethics, lifestyles and survival.  I tried to recall how long it had been since I took the Red Line to explore a new area and felt really out of my element; I was glad to be able to come today with people I knew, surrounded by the crowds, and feel safe.  So many churches, many of them housed in former auto-repair garages and store fronts, with friendly volunteers handing out water along the way.  As we marched down one block, a fellow walker described the street as being one where shootings were common, and then recounting a story of when she was caring for children, and heard gun shots on the street.  How they asked what the popping sound was, and what they should do.  “We need to stay inside for now, then when the sirens come, we’re going to get out of here.”  How she had seen a body laying on the street as the police arrived, and she ushered her charges home.  Teenage girls recited chants in singsong voices that peace is possible, desiring peace in their neighborhood.  Returning to the park, where dogs met one another with wagging tails, we reunited with our group, commented on the beautiful weather, admired my sleeping son, and made our way home to other activities in the safe-feeling suburbs.  I was thankful for a few hours to be on the move, but with a quiet mind, meditating on the question of what I can really do to encourage peace, a question without any concrete answer.  For today it is enough to bring my son to Dorchester, thankful that I have him, and hopeful that he’ll grow safely to adulthood.  To be part of a movement of humanity, surrounded by others who put aside their other daily activities and priorities to literally take steps toward a more peaceful world, starting with a more peaceful neighborhood.

Chelmsford Lion’s Club 5K

On Saturday we ran a small local race, the Chelmsford Lion’s 5K, to benefit student athletic scholarships.  When we arrived at 9am, we tried to park at the front of the middle school, only to find that the lot was a zoo!  It was completely full, with overflow at the administrative offices also full, and all reasonable street (sidewalk) parking also taken.  Hmm, we expected a low-key local event; has this race gotten much more popular since last year?  So we drove around the block through a neighborhood (no good places to park) and drove around to the back of the school, where we saw a sign for 5K parking across the street from the track.  It turned out that the wildly popular Chelmsford Mother’s Club tag sale was the same day, and it’s reported that you have to get there right at 9am to get the “good deals.”  There was also a bottle and can drive at the back of the parking lot.  No wonder it was crazy!  Fortunately the back lot contained plenty of space and a much calmer air, as students and a few non-affiliated local runners like ourselves gathered at the track to register and warm up.

I still had some nervousness, but was much calmer than most races.  I think having Brian and Isaac around helped, as well as it being a much smaller race than I have done in a long time.  It was reminiscent of high school cross-country races, with a little bit of catching-up with other runners, friendly banter about the course’s hills and turns, and general enjoyment to be out running on a beautiful morning.  I did a few laps on the track to warm up and work out the nervous energy, went to check on Isaac and Brian at the playground, and then did one more lap with some pickups to get my legs moving.  Without much fanfare, we lined up at the blue tent indicating the starting line, Brian with the stroller toward the back, and me running solo near the front.

I had decided to run this event based on feel, and not use a watch.  I wore the Garmin for data collection purposes, but didn’t glance at it once (which turned out to be hard to resist!).  I just kept asking myself if I could go harder, and listened to what was limiting – catching my breath, leg turnover, muscles, mental state?  When the horn went off, I took of at a sprint like the rest of the front runners.  It was fun to tear out of the parking lot and down the road.  After about a quarter mile, I settled in, checking on those around me.  A group of girls from Team Run (affiliated with the sponsoring running store) were leading the pack, and I was a reasonable distance behind.  I tried to keep tabs on the top women other than the youth team, and felt like I was probably running around 3rd to 5th.  I ended up pacing most of the time with Alex, a super kid with amazing talent – can you believe he’s only 8!  I towered above him and felt bad several time when I was literally breathing down his neck.  I’d pass him on the down hills, while he had an edge on me when going up hill (size and I’m just not in hill shape yet), exchanging a few words of encouragement here and there.  Mostly I was breathing too hard to talk and be social, even though there were several other guys running about the same pace as we were.

A 5K still seems to go way too fast.  There’s no settling into a pace or clicking off the miles – it’s go out hard, try to stay focused, and finish strong!  It was easy to know how far we had left when we started cruising back up the road, and once we entered the track, there was 300m left to go.  I had been closing on another woman in my sights, and thought I might be able to catch her with a burst of speed.  Unfortunately, speed has never been my strong suit, and this day was no exception, so I wasn’t able to catch her, and in fact got passed with about 100m to go by another woman despite a pretty good push at the end, at least for me.  I finished in 23:11, almost a minute faster than my last 5k, and sub 7:30 pace.  Improvement is good!

I walked through the short chute and grabbed a water, tried to catch my breath, and turned around to see Brian and Isaac finishing right behind me!  Brian was going to take it easy, but evidently he was feeling spunky with the stroller, coming in at 24:46.  The full race results are here.

Since they had age group awards, and it was a small race, I knew I had placed.  So we hung out on the track, grabbed refreshments, and let Isaac run around to his heart’s content until the awards ceremony.  The sun was warm and it was so nice to just be out among other local runners.  Isaac decided to get in his own workout, so cute to see him on the track!

If you can’t see the video below, here is the link: Isaac running track!

Shamrock 5K

We decided it would be an excellent idea to do a 5K while we’re in FL on vacation.  Brian and his sister are running a 5K per month, and this was a chance to run one together.  It’s been too long since Sarah and I have signed up for a race together, too (longer ago than we’ve had this blog!!).  So Leslie recommended the Shamrock 5K at Lake Worth, and all 4 of us decided to toe the line.

No need to beware the ides of March in this case, as we all had great races and a lot of fun.  There were about 500 runners in the 5K and another 500 in the 10 miler, so a fairly large number of people were pulling into John Prince Park as the sun was starting to rise.   It was a relaxed but well organized race with plenty of facilities, space to warm up and stretch, and of course awesome weather.  Many of the Floridians were wearing their long sleeved, bright lime race shirts, but our group opted for short sleeves or tanks.  With a race time temperature of about 70 degrees, it was pleasantly warm, with a slight drizzle that seemed to evaporate as soon as it touched our skin.

We decided to each run our own race.  Leslie knew the crowd, found a spot at the start that felt comfortable for her, and avoided some of the weaving. Brian, Sarah and I all paced closely together for the first mile, weaving through the crowd (despite Leslie’s suggestion that we should move up at the start line.  Lesson learned.)  The course was along a recreational path along the water, really pretty with plenty of turns to keep it interesting.  The crowd was a little congested at the start, but after the first mile it was mostly single file, with enough people to have someone to pace with you, or someone just ahead to target for passing.

As Brian predicted, I went through the first mile at a 7:45, with Brian and Sarah a few seconds back at sub-8s as well.  I held on for a 7:45 second mile, and stuck to nearly the same pace with a 7:48 3rd mile and 44sec last .1 for a 24:03.  I heard a spectator cheering on a woman just ahead of me, telling her she was placing in her age group.  And she looked about my age.  Sure enough, 3rd in my age group was just 5 seconds ahead of me.  Lesson #2, don’t forget about being an “age grouper” now, those few seconds of weaving or loss of focus can count!

Brian  came through shortly after in 24:21, with Sarah right behind at 25:23.  We had just enough time to walk back to the 3 mile mark and see Leslie coming through, so we could cheer her through the finish too.  We did a leisurely cool down, stretch, and snacking before heading back to the car.  It always feels good to have done a race and have your whole Saturday ahead of you at 9am!

I had not run a 5k in a very long time.  It is just as short as I remember it, hardly time to get into a groove before the race is over.  It’s all about starting out hard and pushing yourself the whole way.  My limiting factor as this point is that my core muscles still have not recovered from pregnancy/childbirth, so getting them toned up will be a focus for the coming months.  I also experimented with caffeine, which I have not really had since February of 2012.  I had nearly a cup of coffee before we left for the race.  It was hard to tell if I was affected by normal race butterflies or if the coffee caused a bit of distress, but I don’t think I’ll be resuming consumption of regular coffee again quite yet.

Overall, a really fun day, I would definitely come back next year, and maybe try the 10 miler!

Lowell 1st Run 10K

It was December 31, 2013. We had no plans for New Year’s Eve so after Isaac went to bed at 8pm, I caught up on some of my favorite running blogs and thought about goals for 2014.  I’ve been running five to eight miles a few times a week, and starting to feel a little bit spunky about my pace.  Maybe it’s time to focus on doing some 10K races, a distance that will help me hone my speed a bit more.  So I starting looking at races, and sure enough Cool Running popped up the Lowell 1st Run at 11am the next day.  Hey, that’s only a few miles away.  And it’s only 9pm, so  I could still get a good night’s sleep, get up and eat a carb filled breakfast, and skip out to run during Isaac’s nap time.  With Brian’s support, I decided to go for it and just see what my baseline fitness could get me.

I decided not to get there too early, just enough time to go register, scope out the start/finish, hit the portapotties, drop off a layer in the car, and jog to the starting line.  I had about 10 minutes to stretch and chat with other runners before we took off.  I decided to take Elizabeth Waterstraat‘s advice for short races:  go out hard and then speed up.  I also took her advice on cold weather running – if you’re cold, you’re not running fast enough!  That got me a 7:46 first mile and a 7:36 second mile, and by then I had definitely warmed up.  I repeated a mantra about “no fear” to break my habit of hanging back at the start or settling into a “comfortable” pace in order to save enough for the finish.  The beauty of a 10K is that I don’t have to worry about hydration or nutrition – just go with what I’ve got and deal with any fallout later!  It was fun to have plenty of people to pass as the 5K and 10K shared the same course, with the 10K runners repeating the loop.

The third mile was a bit harder, as we turned into a headwind, but I still managed to stay under 8mins.  As the 5K runners split off, I took off again for a 7:41 4th mile, and decided to really focus on running a strong mile 5.  It worked, as I ran a 7:26 – it might have also had something to do with the extra detour through a neighborhood, as I really like using turns as focus points for surges.  Then it was back to the headwind and the home stretch.  I admit that I lost a bit of focus at this point, and the wind made my nose run and thus my breathing a little tougher.  But soon it was all over, a respectable 48:52 for an average 7:52 pace.  And I even got to see my co-worker Liane at the finish line!

It was fun to run with Brian’s new Garmin to track my splits, the course and pace.  I found it especially helpful to be able to glance down and see a rough pace, which was good motivation.

So, I have a baseline for 2014, let’s see where the year takes me!  I should be able to improve my speed with some intervals and also maybe some warmer weather…. 20 degrees is probably the coldest racing condition I’ve experienced!  There are a couple tempting races in February and then a definite Florida race in March.

Happy new year!

Peaks 13-24

Where did the last two months go? Oh yeah, a trip to Florida, a trip to North Carolina, various Susan business trips, and a baby who turned one! Without further adieu, here’s peaks 13-24 of my 48.

Peak #13 Passaconaway Mar 28, 2006
This doesn’t technically count as a winter hike but easily could. I hiked this one solo. The trail was packed snow and ice so I did a lot of postholing and careful scrambling. This was before I learned about the wonders of yaktrax, crampons, and online trail reports.

Ice on the trail

Presidential range still snowed in

Peaks #14 Mt. Field and #15 Mt. Tom May 3, 2006
A three day hiking trip with hiking buddies Steve and Rich. Day 1 Steve and I drove up together and warmed up by hiking part of the Mount Jackson trail. Steve had brought an extra pair of crampons for me to use and boy did they make a difference. Lots of postholing.

Day 2 all three of us hiked the Avalon, Field, Tom loop. Steve and Rich did not want to go up Mt. Tom as it had been a long tiring day in the snow and ice already so Steve made me a bet. If I could get up Mt. Tom, back down, and catch them on the trail before they got to the car, he would buy wine at dinner. They set out going straight back and I had wine on my brain and charged up Mt. Tom. I caught them just below snowline as they were taking off their crampons and greatly enjoyed my free wine that night. This was also the first time I’d ever seen a moose in the wild. At dinner, a large moose wandered into the field outside the Highland Lodge to graze.

It was a little wet

Peak #16 Whiteface May 7, 2006
Hiked with Susan who thinks this may have been one of her very first hikes back in college with a friend from WILG. A little snow still at the top but mostly clear.

Peak #17 Tecumseh August 5, 2006
Hiked with Susan. It’s a short fast mountain. Here are my trail notes from that day:
1:45 up, 1:10 down. Su and I. Gorgeous 80 degrees and not very humid. Hike was like a giant stairmaster.

Reporting for duty!

Peak #18 Hale October 21, 2006
Did this hike with the Susan and all 3 (at the time) Sheldons. It was early season snow and while the trail was easy the Sheldons had to turn around early after Max took off his mitten and threw it out of the backpack which wasn’t noticed until later when Max started crying and they had to turn back. It was still a fun time and a beautiful day.

Snow in Crawford Notch

Dan and Max

Susan near the summit

Peak #19 Jackson May 26, 2007
Hiked with Susan. A short hike on a lovely spring day. Nice views of the notch and north to Washington.

Mt. Washington from Jackson summit

Peak #20 Carter Dome June 14, 2007
I solo hiked this on a long, long day. I hiked in 19 mile brook trail to Carter Notch hut, climbed Carter Dome, and came down the Carter Dome Trail. The hike from the hut to Carter Dome was incredibly steep. The picture is from the trail down to the hut I had just stopped at. This was also my first hike on Carter Ridge and I was amazed how great the views were of Mt. Washington to the west and of Maine to the east.

I came from down there?!

Peaks #21 North Kinsman and #22 South Kinsman June 21, 2007
Hiked with my buddy Brian. One of my most memorable hikes. I had never hiked with Brian before but knew that he did a lot of outdoors type stuff. He worked with Susan so I knew him socially but we were not yet really friends. We decided to hike the Kinsmans going up Fishin’ Jimmy trail. We had a great, long hike up and turned around to come back down. I had been leading so I let Brian lead on the way back down. Big mistake. I did not realize he was navigationally challenged although he would have freely admitted it if I had asked him. We ended up taking a wrong turn and when I realized it and checked our map we were already hiking on a fun trail with a short series of peaks called “The Cannonballs.” We finished our hike, extra miles and hills and all, had a good laugh, a good burger at a place Brian showed me, and a friendship was forged. However, whenever we are outdoors together, I navigate!

Peaks #23 Hancock and #24 South Hancock July 12, 2007
I did this as a solo hike mostly to knock it off my list. Not a lot of great views, just some pretty wooded trail. The memorable thing about that day was finding a huge “sign” on the ground made out of sticks pointing someone named Ann in a particular direction near the trail split.

Just a fun hike around Mount Monadnock

I have been thinking a lot about what I want Isaac to believe is “normal” – what activities we do as a family and what he grows up to enjoy.  One thing we’re trying to encourage is family dinner time, where we site down together and eat the same thing.  So far Isaac is still enjoying kale, beans, squash, ratatouille, oatmeal and all kinds of fruit, so he is a good excuse for us to eat healthy.  Another thing is exposing him to the outdoors at an early age.  In this endeavor, surely the Hines/Phillips family’s hikers and environmental activists are good role models!  So I was excited to see if Steve and Connie were willing to spend an October day enjoying the foliage on a hike with Isaac and me this weekend.

Of course Isaac decided to sleep in until 7:30am, more than an hour past his normal wake-up.  Usually sleeping in on a Saturday would be welcome, but today we intended to be on the road at 8am!  After some chatting while Isaac ate his breakfast, we did make it out of the house by 8:30am on the way to Mount Monadnock.  We enjoyed the scenery along Rtes 2, 140, and 202 on the way up and Rte 119 on the way back, as trees were definitely starting to turn colors.  We were sad to drive past the many farm stands selling mums, pumpkins and apples, but we were on a tight schedule and figured we could do some shopping another time.

Clearly we were not the only New Englanders with the same idea on Saturday – the state park was packed!  And given that I was toting a rather heavy 11-month old (he is easily 20% of my weight), we set out on the more moderate and less traveled Parker Trail on the way to the Old Toll Road.  But when we encountered the Cliff Walk trail, Connie suggested we check it out.  The new route provided near solitude (we didn’t encounter another hiker until after the junction with Do Drop) and more scenic path, with only a few steep spots.  We enjoyed some pine forest, mossy growth, and beautiful views.  When we got to Bald Rock, we stopped for lunch to soak in the open vistas.  Hearing and seeing the 100s of hikers at the top and having no need to summit, we then opted to continue in a loop onto the Smith Connector and Amphitheater trails to White Arrow and back along the toll road.  White Arrow was the typical “stairmaster” of rocky steps, compounded with enough water to make them slippery going, so we tread carefully on the way down, but then picked it up on the Toll Road and Parker on the way back.

Isaac loved the trees and would chatter away at me while awake. He loved smiling at the other hikers and looking around.  He fell asleep after a section of rock scrambles and slept through lunch, so we stopped along the White Arrow to give him some banana.  He was a trooper to stay in the backpack for 4 hours straight, and only complained a bit for the last section (audibly and by pulling my hair).  Connie and I distracted him with some bright yellow leaves, which he proceeded to try to eat, requiring us to fish them out of his mouth.  I suppose a little leaf and dirt is good for him.  One of my favorite moments was when Steve, Connie and I all sang “Old MacDonald” as we hiked along the road.  Isaac seemed happily surprised to be serenaded by his favorite song.  He did get a proper lunch and time to crawl around the back seat before we headed home.  And luckily Steve and Connie each had great back seat games to share with Isaac to keep him entertained during the drive.

Here’s the one picture from the hike, of Isaac sleeping through lunch.  Evidently the fresh fall air is tiring, even when he gets to ride instead of walk!

Fresh Fall Air is Tiring


Finally Forty-Eight part 1 (peaks 1-12)

On August 31, 2013, I hiked my 48th 4000 foot peak in the White Mountains. The AMC has a list of the peaks over 4000 feet and hiking all of them will get you in the club. The club was started in 1957 and welcomed its 10,000th member in 2012. I’m sure more people have climbed all 48 than are in the club but it’s a rough idea of how many others there are out there who enjoy the White Mountains.

I’m going to split this post into four parts since there are so many memories and photos I want to share. As I went back through the photos I had to make some changes to the “official” ordering of my list as some of the old photos confirmed that I had in fact hiked a peak well before I recorded it after re-hiking it later.

This is Part 1
Part 2 (coming soon)
Part 3 (coming soon)
Part 4 (coming soon)

First White Mountain hike: Back in Spring of 1995 or 1996 my girlfriend and I went to the White Mountains for the very first time. I attempted to hike Mt Lafayette having no real gear or idea what the conditions would be like. This was early in the internet and there was no website with current trail conditions and trip reports like exists today. I remember trying to borrow boots from my friend Chris but in the end I think I opted for tennis shoes. I also wore jeans and had to borrow a pack. I also had to rent a car in order to make the 3 hour trip north. We made it as far as Greenleaf Hut which is about 1000 feet below the summit all the while scrambling up icy slides in our tennis shoes. Needless to say we did not reach the summit and slid most of the way back to the car on our butts. Nevertheless I had a great time and my interest in hiking in the Whites was born.

So young, so clueless

#1 and #2 – Lafayette and Lincoln: Later in 1995 or 1996 I went back with my friends Chris and Dan to do that same hike. I don’t know exactly when we hiked it and I don’t have any photos but I remember it being a grey, rainy, and wet day on Franconia Ridge. We hiked up the Old Bridle Path, had lunch crouched behind a rock on the ridge, and hiked down Falling Waters trail.

#3 – Moosilauke I’d forgotten that I did this hike in 1999 with Chris until I went looking for photos and discovered one of Chris and I at the Moosilauke trailhead. Initially I thought when I did this hike in 2004 with Steve it was my first time. What I do know about the Moosilauke hike with Steve in 2004 is that was the first time I was made aware of the 4000 foot list. Steve was working on completing his 48 at the time and told me about it. At that point I started tracking what I had hiked.

Lunch with Chris in 1999

#4 – Cannon Another double hike! As my discovered photos indicate I did this hike with Chris and Tenille in the summer of 1999. However I didn’t remember that until November of 2011 when I hiked Cannon in the snow with Susan, Steve, and Erik. When I got to the tram station and ski lifts at the top a flood of memories came back from that day in 1999. The vivid memory other than the ladders pictured below are of coming off of a relatively secluded trail and finding 11ty billion tourists on the top who had ridden the tram up from the base station.

Tenille and Chris on the ladders

Steve and Susan in the snow in November 2011

#5 – Osceola I have no photos of this trip. Sometime in 2001, Susan and I hiked Osceola. Since I wasn’t keeping track of my peaks yet I’m not sure if we hiked East Osceola in 2001 or not. This would prove to be a problem later as when I went back to officially hike East Osceola as my 25th peak in 2008 I got bit by a tick and ended up with a nasty illness that took about 4 months to recover fully from.

#6 through #12 – Presidential Traverse! One of the classic New England hikes. This is an approximately 20 mile hike over the alpine peaks of the Presidential Range in the White Mountains. I did this hike with Susan and Dan (in body) and Steve (in spirit since his body was at home recovering from kidney stones). We did this hike over 4 days and hiked Pierce, Eisenhower, Monroe, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison. Day 1 was a short hike up to the Mizpah Spring Hut. Day 2 took us to Lake of the Clouds Hut which we got to right before a huge storm rolled through, Day 3 took us to Madison Hut and day 4 we hiked out. The weather was clear all of the days except for the storm while we were safely in our 2nd hut.

I hope I can do this hike again someday. One of my favorite things in the world is to walk along an exposed ridge line and this is the longest stretch of exposed ridge I can think of in New England.

Susan near Lake of the Clouds Hut

Why do they call it Lake of the Clouds?

The summit of Mt. Washington is cold at 9am, even in August

Mt. Washington and Great Gulf Wilderness from the north

Morning on Mt. Monroe

Part 2 (coming soon)

Isaac’s First White Mountain Hike

Isaac and I enjoyed a beautiful clear day on Saturday with our first excursion to the White Mountains.  We got a later start than we’d hoped, but on the plus side we were both well rested and had a good breakfast.  We survived a long traffic  backup on I-93 (accident north of the tolls), found a Tedeschi for their restroom,  took the opportunity for a stretch break and lunch in the car, and made it to the Greeley Ponds trail head on the Kanc at 2pm.  I felt noticeably more relaxed after seeing the sign welcoming me to the White Mountains.  Something about the mountain air, gorgeous views and blue sky just melts the stress away.

Isaac had fallen asleep after lunch, so I had time to change into hiking shoes and load up the pack.  I used the Chicco backpack with the sun cover, which Isaac really enjoyed, and then I strapped my camelback to the pack frame, loaded with water, a first aid kit and a spare diaper.  After hoisting ~30 lbs onto my back, we were off!

Not far into the hike there is a stream crossing.  Anyone who has hiked with me knows that I’m not good at crossings.  My trail shoes are a big improvement over boots, because I have a better feeling for the slippery and uneven rocks, but I was not ready to try to balance or take precariously large steps across a pretty fast moving stream while still getting the hang of shifting the extra weight.  So after surveying the options and watching a couple hikers cross back the other way, I opted to just wade across.  It was up to my knees in places, but luckily for wool socks and shoes with good drainage, the experience was quickly forgotten as we kept tromping up the the trail.  I thought to myself that I should be a better role model, so Isaac avoids that moment of paralysis when encountering a rushing stream, and learns to simply pick his way across the rocks – or splash through – without thinking too much about it.

It was a lovely afternoon, with only a few other hikers and some students doing trail maintenance.  Isaac smiled at all of them. The trail was a bit muddy in places, as it followed a stream, but was cool and shady without any bugs. It took about an hour to get to the pond, where there is a stony beach along the shoreline.  Isaac was happy to get out and walk around, making a bee line to splash in the water.  He was also happy to sit and play with the stones, until I stopped him from eating them, which resulted in tears.  After a half hour break and a snack, it was time to head back.  It only took 40 min to return to the trailhead, where we took off our wet shoes, ate more food, and got ready for the trip home.  Isaac settled down and slept nearly the whole way home.  We arrived in time for dinner and Isaac was ready for an early bedtime after his big day of adventure.

I count this first “dry run” as a success!  Isaac was a good traveler and clearly loved the hike.  He didn’t squirm or kick, and I think we could have done a longer excursion if we got an earlier start (and/or a shorter drive).  The two hours were enough for me to get my mountain “fix” and let go of any nagging issues on my mind -good for both physical and mental exercise.  It was a good hike for me to regroup and rejuvenate, to balance being the old “me” and the new mom “me”.  I imagine it would be easier to have one person carry the baby and another to carry a day pack, (and also the 2nd person could take photos!) but it’s good to know I can handle it myself.  I look forward to more hikes this fall!

Summer 2013

Oh dear, what happened since May?  June and July have been well documented on our flickr account but we’ve gotten pretty lax in our blogging.

Water:  We opened the pool at the beginning of May, and all 3 of us really enjoyed the water thanks to the heater we put in this year.  Isaac started out enjoying floating on his back, but now he really likes the front crawl, both on land and water.  He loves the water, at bath time or pool time.  We’re trying to teach him to blow bubbles and not swallow water.  We hosted a Memorial Day party again this year, and had almost as many kids as adults.  Most weekends you can find us having a few friends over to splash around and cool off.  Isaac and Brian did their first swim class at the Y today, and learned some songs and games to play.  Isaac seemed to have a great time even though the water is a bit colder there than at home.

Garden: The garden has been a success again this year. We had a good crop of peas that we managed to get in early enough to harvest before our July trip to the midwest.  We have had a lot of salad greens, kale, and a good number of haricot verts. Our tomatoes and peppers are starting to fruit and the herbs are really taking off.  Our fennel looks like it’s about ready to harvest too.  The only disappointment has been spinach – we just can’t get it to grow, or else we have a small critter who loves to chomp it off as soon as it gets a few leaves.  We put in another round of lettuce, chard, and kale to have through the fall.  Most of the time we garden when Isaac is napping, but sometimes he is content to play in the grass while I’m weeding or picking vegetables. (and yes, sometimes “playing in the grass” = eating the grass)

Travel: Somehow this year’s trip to visit our family seemed even more rushed than usual.  Maybe it’s because Brian’s mom and grandma are getting ready to move, or because we’re sensitive to Isaac having down time between meeting so many new people, or maybe we’re just getting older.  But we had a wonderful time seeing family, and realized how hard it is for them to be so far away.  Some of the highlights for Isaac were showing off his eating and crawling skills, playing with puppies, swinging with James, seeing grandparents and great-grandmothers, some of our oldest and youngest family members, and learning that beards aren’t actually that scary.  The hardest parts were sleeping in so many new places and spending lots of time in the car.  But we all were good road trippers overall.

Work: I have a new job as of June, in the same company, but a different position.  The good news is that it’s more self-paced and doesn’t have sales and funding goals.  The bad news is that it’s self-paced and I have some bad habits to break!  July has been a bit better with coming in early, leaving at a reasonable time, and getting in a few more workouts during the week.  I have visited most of the sites where my software engineering team works, and I’m learning a lot about the breadth of our company’s capabilities.  It’s been an adjustment to get used to a different culture, a different boss and a different set of co-workers after being in Burlington for almost 10 years.   But I’m confident this is a good move for me and I look forward to getting settled and making real progress.

 Exercise: Brian competed in his first race since Isaac was born, and literally made a splash at the Wildcat Sprint Triathlon in Lowell last weekend.  He saw a flyer for the race at the Y when he joined, and decided that it was time to baseline his fitness.  It turns out that he had a terrific race, placing 3rd in his division! Woohoo!  :)

Other than that, the weeks seem to go fast.  Between trying to get a reasonable amount of sleep (sometimes interrupted by 3am feeding, sometimes not), keeping healthy food around to eat, chasing an active baby and having a little down time to feel like a normal adult, life is busy and fun.  We’ll try to do better about blogging as the summer days fly by in August.