Sunday, October 30, 2011


Went to the MFA today. This is "Fruit Displayed on a Stand", by Gustave Caillebotte. Never heard of the guy, but I love this painting! Always something new to find at this fine museum.

In case you are wondering, it really is okay to take photos of the exhibits at the MFA. You just can't use your flash.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tank one hundred and seventy-seven

Total miles: 61230. Trip miles: 127.4. Gallons: 2.521. Price per gallon: $3.359.

Screen mileage: 46.1 mpg. Tank mileage: 50.5 mpg.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tank one hundred and seventy-six

Total miles: 61102. Trip miles: 426.4. Gallons: 8.485. Price per gallon: $3.579.

Screen mileage: 53.3 mpg. Tank mileage: 50.2 mpg.

Mix of short and medium drives.

Friday, October 07, 2011

the hut

At the summit of Lafayette, I was feeling almost exhausted. The wind was blasting so strongly that I couldn't keep the camera still to take photographs. This is one of my last photos, of a shelter at the summit, before the camera battery died.

Along the ridge trail, you can see Greenleaf hut in the distance. I kept looking at it. I had brought a sandwich with me, but I knew there was food at the hut, and it looked more and more tempting the more tired I got.

Finally, after descending from Lafayette, the wind began to taper off again. I stopped at a viewpoint to grab my sandwich... only to find it wasn't there! (I never did find it. It's kind of a mystery at this point.) I snacked on a chocolate bar, which was all I had left, and thought some more about visiting the hut.

As I approached the hut, I began hearing a strange sound. It sounded a lot like the smoke monster from Lost. Once I reached the hut, I could see it was coming from a strange weather vane contraption on the top of the hut. I still have no idea what it was for.

On a whim I decided to go inside. It was 3 pm, getting late. There were a couple of bored looking employees, and a couple of small groups of people at the tables. The food was not so appealing. They had some kind of instant coffee packages ($1), hot water, lemonade ($1), a couple of cakes (looked like crumb cake and pumpkin cake, $2 each) and - hm, free pancakes left over from breakfast! I meandered off to look around. The place is pretty posh, and seems relatively new. The rooms all seem to be the same, with two bunk beds. A bit too chummy if you ask me, although nice and clean. There are two rest rooms, with composting toilets (kind of stinky, I would not want to be bunking next to them). I meandered on back, grabbed a pancake, and left.

As I went off into the woods, it occurred to me that it was pretty stupid that I didn't grab several pancakes. This is what fatigue does to you.

I scarfed down the pancake (they are the better part of valor!) and booked it down the mountainside. I passed several groups of people, some of whom I'd seen at the hut. As usual I experienced left knee pain, but I went pretty fast despite that. It's supposed to take 2 h 40 min to get from the hut to the parking lot, and I made it in just under 2 hours, which was quite a surprise.

I should have used sunscreen, since I'm sunburned today. Despite that, and the crazy wind, this was one of my top hikes in the Whites. I hope I will do it again some day, without all the wind.

geodetic survey lafayette

As I struggled through the blasts of wind to the summit of Lafayette, I looked down at my feet and discovered this geodetic survey marker. I just got lucky finding this one, since I didn't intend to spend a lot of time scouring the area for markers in these high winds.


heading to lafayette

This is a view of Mt Lafayette from the summit of Mt Lincoln, standing next to a cairn.

After leaving Mt Lincoln, the winds got worse. I was practically blown off my feet at some points. This meant I had to slow down considerably, and I frequently had to hold onto my hat for fear it would fly away. It was not a ton of fun. The views continued to be spectacular, but I felt hurried to get past the wind, so I didn't stop to look around much.

approach to lincoln

Here I'm on my way to Mt Lincoln. Wow, this has got to be one of the best hikes in the Whites (as was asserted by Mr Friendly CT Hiker). Just amazing views.

There are a couple of people on the trail ahead of me in this photo. I was surprised at the number of people I met along this trail on a Thursday in October - perhaps 20 in total.

At this point I was enjoying myself quite a lot. However, I had decided to eat my lunch on the descent from Mt Lafayette, and it was now past noon. I was beginning to feel fatigued, although I never got hungry (my appetite vanishes when hiking). As a group of young hikers approached to pass me, I found a break from the wind and stepped off the trail to rest and eat some potato chips. Not sure if it helped.

view on the way to lincoln

This is one of many fantastic views that I got on my way from Little Haystack to Mt Lincoln. This view is of Cannon Mountain, to the west.

It was pretty windy getting to Little Haystack, keeping up a pretty steady blast. But it didn't feel too cold, so I decided to keep going. Once I passed Little Haystack, the wind became somewhat warmer, and there were frequent breaks where I could walk comfortably without worrying about my hat flying away.

little haystack

The climb from Shining Rock to Little Haystack was pretty short (0.4 miles) and not too difficult. This photo was shot after I had broken out above treeline. I began to feel weirdly elated and breathless at this point, which I can't explain. Strange stuff happens in the mountains.

As I approached the summit, I was met by the friendly CT hiker that I'd chatted with at Cloudland Falls. To my surprise, he was turning around. He said the winds were fierce and he was afraid he'd get frostbitten - he didn't have anything to cover his face.

Well, I find it hard to turn back from a 4000 footer, once I'm that close. I was mainly concerned about the "knife-edged" ridge (as described in the Guide p 168) between Mt Lincoln and Mt Lafayette. I asked Mr Friendly CT Hiker if there was any danger of getting blown off the mountain. He said no, so I decided to carry on. He then volunteered to give me a spare hat that he was carrying with him, and I hesitated but then said OK. He dug around in his pack, and finally produced it, a nice looking watch cap colored a burnished orange. But then he confessed that this was his favorite hat. So I took the cap he was wearing, which was military issue; he said he had plenty of spare caps of this type because he has friends in the military.

I bid Mr Friendly CT Hiker a fond adieu, and thus equipped, I headed off onto the windy ridge.

shining rock

This is Shining Rock, a giant granite slab, about 2.8 miles up the trail. It's 200 ft tall and 800 ft long. The Guide advises that you shouldn't attempt to climb it without rock climbing equipment. I was not tempted, since large parts of its surface were coated with ice, some of it with water running underneath it.

Around this area, the trail was filled with boulders, and I had to clamber in places, but there was nothing too difficult.

Shortly after passing Shining Rock, the trail began to get very icy. Lots of boulders were nearly covered in a thick glaze of ice. Fortunately, I was able to navigate around the glazed patches. However, that experience does make me wonder if this is my last big hike of the year.

cloudland falls

This is Cloudland Falls, which is found at about 1.3 miles into the trail. The photo doesn't do it justice. It is 80 feet from top to bottom.

As I stood at the foot of the falls, a fellow hiker, from CT, came along and chatted with me. He had hiked this area before, and said that you hardly ever find much water coming down these falls at this time of the year. So we were lucky. Although, all the rain has knocked down a lot of fall foliage.

The climb from the parking lot to Cloudland Falls was fairly easy, despite the fact that I haven't done any substantial hiking since June.

In fact, overall, this loop is probably one of the easier hikes I've done in the White Mountains.

stairs falls

This is a view of Stairs Falls, about 0.7 miles in. I've seen photos of this where the water is falling down all the stairs instead of just to one side.

Mt Lincoln and Mt Lafayette

Yesterday I did a loop hike over Mt Lincoln and Mt Lafayette, my 17th and 18th 4000-footers. The weather was great! But it was pretty windy. That wasn't noticeable in the woods, but on the exposed ridge between Little Haystack Mountain (south of Mt Lincoln) and Mt Lafayette, it was a real problem.

The whole loop was 8.5 miles. I hiked it in about 6 h 20 min, for a pace of about 1.3 mph. It seems slow, but that's just about book time. The wind at the top slowed me down some.

I started at the Lafayette Place parking lot. The Bridle Path Trail and Falling Waters Trail converge here. I took Falling Waters Trail up, since the AMC White Mountain Guide says it's supposed to be difficult on descent.

Falling Waters Trail takes you past several waterfalls. All of them were very active and beautiful; it's been a rainy fall.

The picture here is actually not a waterfall, but one of the first brooks that you cross along Falling Waters.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Tank one hundred and seventy-five

Total miles: 60676. Trip miles: 386.8. Gallons: 7.627. Price per gallon: $3.379.

Screen mileage: 50.7 mpg. Tank mileage: 50.9 mpg.

Mostly long trips.