Friday, April 29, 2011

What is Appalachia? - Guest Blogger Post

By Tim and Robin Bird @ Appalachia & Beyond

Back before the start of the New Year, Karl announced the need for guest posts as he would be starting his graduate studies and he and his wife Jill would be expecting the birth of their baby sometime in 2011. All of this of course would keep any father busy with honey dos and the like.

We were more than happy to volunteer to write a guest post for Karl; we don’t live in the Volunteer State for nothing. Since we really started to put a major effort into our blog back in October of 2010, we’ve seen a major increase in followers, readers, subscribers, etc. Karl was one of the first to jump on board and has since been a great friend to Robin and I. Hopefully one day we can all get together and spend a weekend or more on the trail sharing good times and baby stories.

Anyway, the other day Karl emailed and was ready for us to do a guest post. Since then we’ve been racking our brains on what to write. We thought maybe something along the lines of what it means to be Appalachian or whether New Hampshire could be considered part of Appalachia. We (us & Karl) have actually discussed this here and there a few times.

Robin and I are in the heart of Southern Appalachia, just 15 miles north of Knoxville, TN. Within an hour’s drive we can be at any number of trailheads ready to walk into the ruggedly beautiful wilderness that is Southern Appalachia. Around 50 miles away from our home in either a southern or eastern direction we can walk on the Appalachian Trail. I’m not sure how far it would be for Karl and the family, but I’d imagine it’s not much farther for them as it is for us.

Could that be used as an argument for being Appalachian? How close or far away from the AT you live? I don’t see why not. How about the fact that we both live within the Appalachian Mountains which range from Alabama all the way to Maine and into Canada? That sounds like a good indicator of being Appalachia doesn’t it? Well if you look at the socio-economic-cultural maps that depict the Appalachian Region, you will find that it stretches from the northern parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia up to the southern regions of the state of New York. Why this is so, is completely beyond us, there’s obviously more educated people who settled these sorts of debates way before we were ever around. However if it’s due to the ruggedness of the area, I’m fairly certain that New Hampshire has its fair share of ruggedness. Heck, just looking at some of the pictures Karl and other New Hampshire outdoor blogger's posts can attest to that. If it’s due to the level of poverty or the education level of the area that defines it as Appalachia, well certainly there are arguments for and against that. I’m sure there are small towns in New Hampshire that rank the same with towns here in Tennessee. So why not consider them Appalachian?

Courtesy of:

We imagine this could be argued and debated back and forth for years to come and no one would get any closer to including the Northern Portions of the Appalachian Range into the socio-economical-cultural Appalachia region. I wasn’t born or raised in Appalachia but my parents were, and that makes Appalachia part of my heritage. I’ve lived in Appalachia now for nearly 15 years, and in my opinion that makes me Appalachian. Robin was born and raised here and has never left. She is definitely Appalachian. However, Robin and I have come to the conclusion that regardless of whether you were born and raised in the region, recently moved or have lived in the region for a while, if it’s in your heart, then you are Appalachian. If it’s in your soul and in your mind, then that makes you Appalachian regardless of locale. It’s kind of like that sayin’, “American by birth, Southern by the Grace of God.” Well just substitute Southern with Appalachian and there ya have it.

Happy Trails,
Tim and Robin @ Appalachia & Beyond

As Tim and Robin mentioned, I've gained a couple good friends when I stumbled upon the Bird's blog, Appalachia & Beyond. I love reading their posts and following along in their lives down in southern Appalachia. I send a very warm thanks out to them for taking the time to write a post for Live Free and Hike New Hampshire. I hope one day to get both of our families together to hike part of the Appalachian Mountains either in New Hampshire or Tennessee or maybe somewhere between. Please note that the content of this post (text and pictures) are property of Tim and Robin (unless otherwise stated and marked) and are protected under my copyright. - Karl


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why We Hike: A Challenge From Two-Heel Drive

Over at Two-Heel Drive, a blog written by Tom Mangan, a challenge has been issued to outdoor bloggers, to describe why you hike in only 15 minutes. No elaborate thinking on the matter! Just put down your thoughts, at that moment, as to why you hike. Challenge accepted!

Whenever I think of hiking, I think of Jackson, NH. It's a beautiful, small, quaint little town sheltered by the White Mountains. My wife and I love this town. It's a special town to us as we spend our anniversaries there and is a launching site of many of our hikes. In this town, the hustle and bustle of everyday life seems to cease and people seem to truly enjoy nature and what it has to offer. We certainly hope to make our way up there for good, someday...maybe in retirement or sooner.

We love seeing the Jackson Covered Bridge when we head into town. We always cross it and
say, "We're home!". Hopefully, someday, it will be a true statement.

Whenever we head out to a trailhead, I think of Jackson. I think it is because I somehow relate the New Hampshire mountains with this town. I can't completely explain it, but it's almost like every hike gets me one step closer to making my way home to this town. Even if we hike over near Franconia...it reminds me of Jackson, which I will someday call home.

View from the Iron Mountain Trailhead in Jackson, NH...over a beautiful meadow toward
Mt. Washington. All the views in Jackson, NH are wonderful!

When we finally make our way up to Jackson for good, the mountains will be at our doorstep. We won't have to drive four hours a day (round trip) to a trailhead. We will forget about the rat race and take advantage of the crisp mountain air. Until then, though, we will continue to make the long drives and dream of this town that we will someday call home...that is why we hike!

Some of my buddies also took this challenge. Check out their posts below:

Dave Olson at Fat Man of the Mountains

Jim Bradley at Husky Hiker

Grant at New England Outside

Tim and Robin at Appalachia & Beyond

Also, search Twitter #whywehike to read more of these post!


Saturday, April 9, 2011

"Spend The Day Bein' Lazy, Just Bein' Nature's Friend" - South Moat Mountain

Beautiful Views All Day!

Well, maybe hiking a mountain isn’t exactly what most people would call a lazy activity. However, hiking relaxes my mind and my thoughts better than any other pastime. For that reason, I believe it’s my “lazy” pastime.

Turkey in the Trail

Steep ledges with water runoff

This weekend, I decided to head up to the Conway area and be “lazy” on South Moat Mountain. It’s been on my list for quite a while and I had been yearning to get up to the Whites. Unfortunately, since Lylah is due in less than eight weeks, Jill decided to sit this one out.

Mount Chocorua at ledge lookout area

I made it to the trailhead around 8am and to my surprise, it was pretty warm already. I did pack for a cold day, as you never know what the Whites throw at you. However, most of the warm clothing I brought ended up being extra weight in my pack rather than extra layers on my body. I hiked most of the day in short sleeves.

What I believe is Carter Notch

The trail started off flat and snow covered which soon gave way to mud. A quarter mile up the trail, I turned the corner and there was a turkey standing there with his feathers completely spread out. I was able to snap a few photos and then he scurried along. The trail continued on with stretches of both snow and mud. A mile or so in, the trail started getting steep and the terrain changed from mud and earth to rocks and ledge.

At one point, there were extremely steep ledges to the left of the trail that served as a snow-melt runoff. The trail eventually crossed over the top of the ledges and gave a great outlook to the south, over to Mount Chocorua. The sun kept climbing higher and the water runoff kept getting heavier. The ledges were a bit slick so I was sure to be cautious with every step.

View to the west

Up past the ledges, the trail took on a moderate incline again. However, the snow became much deeper. As the temperature increased, more and more of my steps post-holed a couple feet. At this point, I knew I was close to the summit, so the last thing I wanted to do was take the time to pull out the snowshoes (which was a process the way I had them strapped on).

Mount Chocorua from the summit

I finally made it to the summit and found very blue, crisp skies. To the north, was a great landscape of snow covered Mount Washington. To the east, Conway was below with Kearsarge North overlooking. To the south, Mount Chocorua stood most prominent in the sky. And to the west, the Pemi Wilderness was clear and beautiful. You could even see across the state to the Franconia Notch.

Mount Washington

I sat on the summit, soaked in the sun and views, conversed with a couple other hikers and ate my lunch. It was a great afternoon. After about forty minutes, I packed up all my gear (most of which was extra weight considering the temperatures) and headed back down the Moat Mountain Trail. At this point, my pack was getting heavy and I was getting pretty tired. I’m ashamed to say, I was pretty beat after I finished this 5.4 mile hike. Last year, we finished up the season hiking long loops like the Franconia Notch and Flume/Liberty. Today was definitely a wake-up call for me. I better get my butt in gear if I’m going to tackle Washington in July!


All in all, it was a great day to be in the Whites. I can honestly say, however, that I did miss hiking with Jill today. She’s my day hiking buddy and it did get lonely after a short while without her. Soon, it will be three of us hiking together and I can’t wait for that…only eight weeks left now for new hiker to get here!

Mt. Chocorua over Chocorua Lake...I stopped and took this on the way home off from Route 16


Friday, April 1, 2011

48 Great Accomplishments, Climbing New Hampshire's Highest Peaks - Guest Blogger Post

By Stephanie Reitan

Becoming a part of the White Mountain Four Thousand Footer Club makes me so proud as I reflect back on what it took to get here. My experience of hiking all 48 of the highest peaks in the beautiful state of New Hampshire has been one of great memories, growth, frustration, excitement, and a lot of hard work. I have to admit that at first I was not interested in hiking all of these mountains, let alone even one four thousand footer! I had hiked throughout my life sporadically, usually smaller mountains such as Mt. and Pack Monadnock, Mt. Major, and Mt. Willard. I loved hiking but the thought of very long trips just didn't appeal to me. Matt, my boyfriend at the time – now my husband, however, had heard of the club and it had piqued his interest. So, each time we would decide to go for a hike, he would conveniently suggest one of the four thousand footers. I caught on to this quickly and would usually put up a stink, and try to convince him to do a smaller, easier day hike. I don't know how it happened, but at one point I realized that I had already hiked so many of the four thousand list. I became hooked and decided that I must accomplish this goal as well!

Steph, Matt and Dasher on the summit of Mount Jackson, with Mount Washington in the background

So, Matt, myself, and our Korean Jindo Dasher decided we would do this together, as a family. Matt and Dasher had already hiked some mountains without me, but very generously offered to hike them again with me so that we would finish the list together. This took place over summers from 2006 to 2010. At first we started out slowly – life was busy and I was working on my Master's degree in Education, so we hiked when we could. At the end of 2007 we were in the midst of planning our wedding for the following June, I was wrapping up my studies before starting student teaching, and we were thrown a big curve ball. I became very ill and was diagnosed with a chronic illness. We went on to deal with this as best we could, but my health was greatly diminished and unfortunately we were unable to do any hiking the entire year of 2008. In the spring of 2009, my health was restored and so was our passion for hiking! We could not wait to get out and hit the trails. I remember the first hike of that year was Mt. Tecumseh on Memorial Day weekend. It was a great hike to get us pumped for the season and we were able to conquer many mountains throughout the summer and fall.

Steph perched on West Bond, with Bond Cliff in the background

Steph, Matt and Dasher on Bond Cliff

When 2010 rolled around, we decided that we really wanted to meet our goal before the summer's end. Matt and Dasher were still several mountains ahead of me, but I had completed 28 of the 48 peaks. So we knew it was going to be a busy season! Of course, we had left many of the more “challenging” hikes for the end and we knew it was time to attack them! I'll never forget the dreaded Owl's Head – a grueling hike crossing rushing rivers and battling millions of black flies on the slide portion of the trail – only to reach a top with no view! We knew what we were in for though and by the time we made it back to the car we were so proud of ourselves. Another memory of our more difficult days was hiking Jefferson, Adams, and Madison as an out and back – with our poor dog's pads getting completely shredded on the rough rocky peaks. Of course we had so many amazing hikes that these by far surpass the tough days. My favorite hike of all time would have to be hiking all three of the Bonds in a day. We started out via the Lincoln Woods Trail – a familiar start because that is also where we began for Owl's Head – and it seemed as though we would be walking a flat trail forever. The ascent then began and then that seemed to go on forever! Until we were finally at the top of Bondcliff – and I will never forget the moment I turned to look behind me and saw the most absolutely stunning view of the White Mountains that I had ever seen! I remember it literally taking my breath away. We spent a good long time on each of the Bonds that day, just soaking it all in and resting after the long trek out in the middle of the wilderness. It was a long trip back to the car and we were sore for days but it was a trip and day that I will never forget and will always have the best memories of.

Steph, Matt and Dasher on Mount Isolation, the end of their journey for the 48 peaks!

For our very last hike, we completed Mt. Isolation. It was another great day and it was truly an amazing feeling reaching that very last peak and realizing that we had accomplished our goal! Completing this journey with my husband and dog was an amazing experience that we are so proud of. It brought us even closer together and made us realize how thankful we are to live in such a magnificent state. It has provided me with memories that I will never forget and we look forward to the day we can hike some of the very same trails again with our children!

Steph, and her husband, Matt, are dear friends of mine. I've really enjoyed hearing about their adventures in the Whites, climbing the 48, 4,000 footers the past few years. I can't wait until they decide on another list to tackle! I want to extend a big thanks to Steph for letting me use her 4,000 footer essay for a blog post. Please note that the content of this post (text and pictures) are property of Steph and are protected under my copyright - Karl