Friday, May 20, 2011

Second Giveaway Opportunity - Haunted Hikes of New Hampshire

The other day, I received an email from the author of the book entitled, Haunted Hikes of New Hampshire. I know the book well and received Marianne O’Connor’s email with excitement. She told me that she followed this blog as well as the LFAHNH Facebook page and noticed that I had a giveaway contest going on. She was very kind and donated five autographed copies of her book to be part of my next giveaway, to some lucky readers of Live Free and Hike New Hampshire.

Five copies up for grabs!

The book is great and Jill and I have both read it. Marianne describes a number of hikes, all in New Hampshire, that have odd and unusual circumstances surrounding their history. At one time or another, these hikes have been reported by some to be, yup, you guessed it, HAUNTED! Marianne has hiked all of them, describes the trip route in detail and has even included pictures and maps. I particularly like the Waternomee Bomber (my trip report of this crash site published on Hike New England) story and the great detail she includes. It’s a great read!

I've had my copy for two years, tucked in my hiking library!

So how do you get your autographed copy? I’m going to give everyone who reads this blog and opportunity to put their name in the hat FIVE times!

1st Entry – Comment on this post as to why you want this book.

2nd Entry – Share this post link and giveaway opportunity on your Facebook page. Leave a second comment letting me know you did this.

3rd Entry – Share this post link and giveaway opportunity on your Twitter page and be sure to include @LiveFreeAndHike so I don’t miss it. Leave a third comment letting me know you did this too.

4th and 5th Entry – This one is worth two entries! If you have a blog, share this giveaway opportunity on your blog by spreading the word in a post. Leave a fourth and final comment letting me know you blogged about it with a link back to your blog.

So, you have up to five entries to win this contest…and there are five books available so those are pretty good odds! Now, even though you can be picked five times, you can only win one book. So, if you’re picked twice, the second does not count. I’m going to close the comments on May 31st at midnight and will choose winners using random.org soon after. As most of you know, I have a little one due on June 1st, so you’ll have to bear with me if it takes me a few days to pick the winners. I'll make a follow up post with the winners after they are picked and you'll need to email me your addresses so I can get you your copy. Good luck everyone and thanks to Marianne for giving away copies of this great book to our Live Free and Hike New Hampshire community.

Addendum: All, I messed up the close date. I didn't want this to end on June 29th, but instead on May 29th. Since this is only in a couple days, I'll keep this giveaway open until May 31st. Sorry for any confusion I may have caused. Get those entries in sooner than later!


New Winner for MWObs Mini Thermometer

Unfortunately, I haven't heard from the winner of my very first giveaway, which is a little discouraging. Since it's been a few days, I decided to choose a new winner. The lucky number is #20. This is Dan, author of Expedition Kala Patthar featuring the amazing Nepal Chronicles! Congrats Dan!!!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review - Into Thin Air

High on a list of things that I wish I could make more time for is reading. The only time I really find to read is at night before going to bed. However, this is not every night. Daily “to-dos” and favorite prime time TV shows typically trump opening my books sitting on the nightstand. However, lately, I’ve been trying to make a better effort to pick up them up and put a few chapters away before hitting the sack.

A book I had been reading for quite a while and finally finished up the other night was
Into Thin Air. This book was written by an mountaineer/journalist, Jon Krakauer, and tells a detailed, firsthand account of a very deadly season on Mount Everest. Jon got the opportunity to travel to Nepal to summit Mount Everest and in return, document his journey for an article in Outside magazine.

The book starts with a thorough history of Mount Everest and tells of the pioneers that lost their lives attempting the summit as well as those who first made successful ascents and descents. He describes the geography of the mountain and how features like the Hillary Step inherited its name. He also describes how Mount Everest went from being a mountaineer’s biggest goal to it being a tourist attraction that anyone could attempt to summit, if they had enough money to pay a guiding company.

He describes his trip to Nepal in pretty good detail and does a great job describing his team mates that would later attempt Everest with him. I found myself at this point, not being bored with the story, but more or less anxious to get to the actual climbing of the mountain.

About half way through, the book got very exciting as he and his team worked on acclimatization and finally pushed forward to the day they were going to summit. Summiting the mountain ended up not being the climax of the story. But instead the decent, due to some pretty horrible weather and some very bad decisions, ended up being the point where I couldn’t put the book down. A series of misfortunes and poor judgment caused many people to lose their lives on the mountain during Jon’s team’s summit bid. He does a phenomenal job bringing the reader to Everest and really describing the emotions that accompanied him during the terrible decent.

Pretty great book for sure! Two thumbs up! Next on my list, Spencer’s Mountain by Earl Hamner, Jr.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Gift Giveaway...Finally Has a Winner

As many of you know, I picked up a small gift at the Mount Washington Observatory online shop for a lucky fan of Live Free and Hike New Hampshire on Facebook. Once the Facebook page reached 300 "likes", I said I would choose a random winner. Today, my Facebook page reached 302 "likes". So, just as I said, I picked the random number of 112. After scrolling through the fans for a bit (Facebook keeps them in chronological order from when they hit the "like" button), I found the winner was Mark (I'll keep his last name confidential in the case he doesn't want it displayed on my blog).

I used random.org to select the random number

Mark has won a Zip-o-gage thermometer, purchased from the Mount Washington Observatory. This Zip-o-gage is made by the Sun Company and displays the Mount Washington Observatory logo on its front face. It reads temperature in both farenheit and celcius. It is small in size so it can be used on your key chain, pack or jacket. It also has a pretty neat wind chill chart on the reverse side. I think best of all, it is made in the USA!

I have the same one and keep it on the shoulder strap of my pack. It comes in handy quite a bit and I find it to be more accurate than that of my digital thermometer I also take on hikes. If anyone out there is interested in getting one, you can purchase this item here.

Congratulations Mark! I hope you enjoy your gift. Thanks for "liking" us on Facebook! I really hope you enjoy this blog!


Friday, May 13, 2011

New Patches On My Daypack

I’ve decided to add a little bling-bling to my hiking pack this year. I purchased a couple patches to sew onto the outside of my daypack to show my support for a few organizations.

The first was a Views From The Top patch which I believe is still available to members. However, they will only be available for a limited time. Once they are gone, VFTT may not make any more for a while to come. If you’re a VFTT member, you can find out how to order one here.

The second is a Mount Washington Observatory patch. I purchased this through the Mount Washington Observatory website shop. A link to this product is here.

Putting these patches on was not as easy as I expected. I stuck myself at least a hundred times and then burnt myself with the iron. I decided to both sew these as well as use the glue adhesive on the back to make extra sure I would not lose them on the trail. What do you think? They look pretty good, don’t they???

If you see this pack with these patches on the trail, don’t hesitate to say hello!


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hiking Up Indian Head - Mount Pemigewasset

I took a day off from work last week to go hiking in the Whites. Since I was heading up solo, I wanted to pick something somewhat short and easy and settled on Mount Pemigewasset, also known as Indian Head. It got its nickname from an Indian Head profile that can be made out when viewed from the south on Route 3. I took the Mount Pemigewasset Trail in and out which was about 3.4 miles total.

Hobblebush Leaves

I was checking the weather throughout the week hoping that Friday morning would yield clear skies. Accuweather.com kept saying the weather would be cloudy with a chance of sunshine, while weather.com insisted it would rain and snow all day in the Franconia Notch. I woke up to bluebird skies and couldn’t have been happier with the temperatures. Nice and mild (in the 40’s/50’s) and it was predicted to warm up to the 60’s throughout the day. The high summits forecast on the Mount Washington Observatory site did call for higher winds and gusts up to 60mph. Since these winds typically come from the west, I figured I would be okay since the trail is on the eastern slopes.

Log bridge, more dangerous than rock hopping

Pulling into the trailhead, I was pretty happy to see I was the only one there. It was a Friday, and being a weekday, I knew there was a good chance I would have the mountain to myself. I put my gear on and quickly started down the black top on the Pemi Bike Trail. The Mount Pemigewasset Trail started 150 yards up on the left. I noticed that I quickly began looking to each side of the trail. Maybe it’s instinct, but I was looking for wildflowers before I even realized that it was that time of year. Just one year prior (to the day), I had been on Mount Moosilauke and the Hobblebush flowers had bloomed. I was now hoping for the same finds on this trip.

The trail quickly crossed under Route 3, meandered through the woods a bit and then crossed under the Franconia Notch Parkway (Route 93). The trail then started climbing moderately over pretty easy terrain. The rocks were strategically placed in the trail to act as a stairway and the exposed roots were helpful for traction. I soon came upon my first Hobblebush, which the leaves still had a purple tint to them from opening recently. Unfortunately, there were no buds or flowers on this one. It’s amazing how a year prior, these plants were in full bloom. Apparently last year, the spring wildflower season came earlier than this year.

Trout Lily, opening for the day

What I think looks like the "All Seeing Eye" - Good sign for me!

As I continued on, the Trout Lilies became pretty abundant, although none were open quite yet. The trail passed over a few small brooks, all which had small foot bridges. One bridge in particular that was made from four short logs, looked rotted and slippery, and I felt it was easier and less dangerous to rock-hop the brook! The trail continued to climb through a very vast beach tree forest. Many of them had been carved with initials over the years and on one tree, I found a scar where possibly a knot formed what looked like an All Seeing Eye. Being a Freemason, this was a good sign for me that it would be a great day!

Next to a brook, warmed by the sun, I found a bed of Trout Lilies that recently opened. Their petals hadn’t completely folded back just yet and were out straight. Just above them, was a Hobblebush a bit more mature than the last, having small bead like buds on it, but no flowers just yet. The trail continued upward, and I came across three Round-Leaved Yellow Violets. Just opposite to the violets, I found some Trillium blossoms poking up, but they were not yet opened. I believe they were Purple Trilliums, but I couldn’t be certain. I was certainly bummed they were not opened for me.

Round-Leaved Yellow Violet

Purple Trillium, not open yet

At this point, the trail became pretty wet and it was apparent it was acting as a runoff for the mountain. It was also obvious that many hikers were taking a few routes around the trail to avoid the water. I did this in a couple packed down areas but tried to stay on the trail as much as possible. My newly beeswaxed Asolos kept me dry! Soon after the wetness started, I spotted the first snow of the trip. I knew that I was probably going to run into some, but was hoping I wouldn’t. The snow eventually made its way into the center of the trail almost all the way to the summit.

Just below the summit, I hit a junction with the Indian Head Trail, which contours the sourthern slopes of Mount Pemigewasset down to Route 3. Just past this junction, the sound of the westward wind started to howl and I knew my nice, warm, calm hike was going to get loud and windy, very quickly. Out of nowhere, the trail opened up to an enormous cliff. The top of it was huge and had a slight downward angle. The wind was blowing strong enough from the west that it made you pay extra close attention to your footing on this scary ledge.

Snow in the trail near the top

Ledge/Cliff on the summit

I got close to the edge of the cliff to try to see over. However, with the wind screaming and pushing on me, as well as being all by myself, I didn’t venture close enough to be able to see the bottom. It was certainly one of the more nerve racking summits I have been on. The views to the south were incredible. Off in the distance, I had a wonderful view of a still snow covered Mount Moosilauke dominating the skyline. To my right, what I believe to be South Kinsman was very close by. My friend Tom (from The Adventures of Tom and Atticus) told me to be sure to make my way to the eastern ledges where I would be awarded views of the Franconia Ridge and that’s exactly what I found.

Mount Moosilauke in the distance, snow covered and magnificent

On the eastern most ledges, I was finally sheltered from the wind, although I could still hear it. Directly in front of me was a great view of Mount Flume and Mount Liberty. When standing, through the trees, was a wonderful view of a snow covered Mount Lincoln and Mount Lafayette. Behind a blue sky, these mountains were magnificent to look at. This is where I made my picnic table and ate my lunch.

Mount Liberty and Mount Flume from the summit

After eating and relaxing for a while, I bushwhacked around the summit a bit to see if I could find a viewpoint to the north. However, it wasn’t happening. The northern portion of the summit was too thick. So, I packed up my stuff, and headed back down the way I came. The trip down was quick and I noticed that many Trout Lilies that happened to be shut on the way up were now open with curled back petals. I passed one other hiker heading up near the trailhead and found a few more cars accompanying my truck at the parking area. I’m sure these people were out biking or enjoying nature on other trails. But I must say, I was happy to have Indian Head all to myself that day.

Mount Lincoln from the summit

Mount Lafayette from the summit

After packing up the truck, I headed down Route 3 to see the Indian Head profile. I found what seemed like a rocky ledge and assumed that must be it. I got out of my truck on the side of the road and tried to make it out. Unfortunately I couldn’t. Maybe it was too far away or too high up, but I was not seeing the Indian Head profile that I had seen online and in books. So I took a few snapshots and thought maybe I would be able to see it better in the photos on the computer screen. I was right! Undoubtedly, that was the Indian Head profile and it is easy to make out in the photos.

Indian Head profile, as seen from Rt. 3

All in all, this was a fantastic day and a great hike for a solo trip. Being my second solo hike in the White Mountains, I can honestly say I like hiking with a partner more than by myself. I miss hiking with Jill and can’t wait until she can get back on the trail with me. Although, when that happens, I’ll have two hiking partners…one of which, I’ll be carrying on my back!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Gift Giveaway...Visit LFAHNH on Facebook!

I’ve noticed lately that there have been some really cool giveaways on the blogs that I frequently visit. So, I decided to join in the fun. It wasn’t hard to think of a place to pick up a gift for a giveaway. I headed right to the Mount Washington Observatory website and went shopping!

Here are the details…the gift is a surprise! So I will not disclose what it is until I pick the winner. In order to be considered, you have to be a fan of Live Free and Hike New Hampshire on Facebook. So, if you haven’t visited my Facebook page, do so soon and “like” it! Once we reach 300 fans (we’re currently at 264 “likes”), I will choose one lucky fan at random and mail them the gift.

Thanks everyone, for reading and “liking” Live Free and Hike New Hampshire!