My gosh it’s been a very busy beginning to summer and I have to say that I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Before I know it, 2016 will be here and I’ll be heading to Georgia to start my walk home along the Appalachian Trail. So, please forgive me now, but most likely each journal that I share will have some reference to my preparation for the trail.
Besides reading various books and following some friends through their adventures on the AT, I’ve been researching gear and deciding what may work best for me. So far I’ve purchased a great, light-weight tent by Big Agnes, to serve as my home while on the trail, a Klymit sleeping pad, as well as a Kelty sleeping bag.
Of course, I had to try these out soon after receiving them, so I invited Jennie-Mae and Asher along for a sleepover on Whitecap. Not only did I want to test out my new gear, but I have wanted to see the sunrise from there for quite some time now.
So, over Memorial Day weekend, yes, the weekend we got all those amazing thunderstorms and rain, and then the sun would shine, the three of us set out for the summit of Whitecap for the night.
Loaded with only the essentials we would need for a quick overnight, Jennie-Mae, her son Asher and I headed up over Whitecap about five on Sunday, after one of those lovely thunderstorms passed and almost deterred us from following through with our plans.
We could see some clouds in the distance, but they never came near us. The walk up was beautiful in the setting sun; the leaves glowed with the afternoon light filtering through. The brooks were flowing with fresh rainwater and felt great as we stopped to splash our faces.
Asher did a great job carrying his pack with only two pack-off stops the whole way.
Nearing the top and having so much water in the trail, Asher agreed it would be best to carry his shoes and get an early start on his summer feet. I took the opportunity to walk ahead and sneak some pictures of him and Jennie-Mae. After all, it’s not everyday a mom and son have their own personal photographer along for a memorable hike.
As we made the summit and stripped off our gear, the view of the sunset behind Asher was simply irresistible. He threw his hands up in excitement and cheered for his accomplishment. It was a great moment that brought a smile to my face and warmth to my heart that I had a part in his excitement.
That night we encountered some pretty heavy winds with the unsettled weather that was moving through, causing Jennie-Mae to tie a corner of her tent to a nearby tree just before a 20-minute downpour came over us.
After the rain, I peeked outside my tent and could see the lights of Rumford in the distance. The night was so peaceful even with the wind swirling around our tents. About half an hour later I peered out again and couldn’t see two feet. The clouds and fog had engulfed us.
With the temperature only getting down to 45 degrees, I was snuggled warm and dry inside my new tent and sleeping bag, and my sleeping pad was very comfy between me and the ledge under me. If it weren’t for the wind slamming my tent into my back the whole night I would have slept like a queen.
Now, we were expecting to see the sunrise, but when my alarm went off at 5 a.m. and we crawled out of our tents, we saw a view that was just as spectacular as any sunrise could have been.
In the night, the clouds and fog had settled in the valley below like a blanket. The rolling mountains and hills were only visible above the cozy cotton-like carpet that covered their bases. It was a magical view.
After enjoying the view, taking some photos and giving thanks we decided to pack up before the dark clouds in the distance opened up on us. And, no sooner than we decided to get moving did the rain come in.
We held steadfast to the tents as we packed up in the severe wind that threatened to sail us off the side of the mountain. Asher held down gear while Jennie-Mae and I worked together to get things rolled, scrunched, and thrown into packs.
Fortunately, the rain stopped just as we made treeline. It was a great experience even if the weather wasn’t ideal. After all, I need to get used to being on the trail in all types of weather. Besides, it was a great test night for my new gear, of which, I am very happy to report passed with flying colors, especially in the case of being packed up quickly.
The following weekend a rather large group of us, 18, decided to explore Bald and Speckled mountains in Peru. According to Trail Finder, the hike is five miles round trip and has spectacular views of Little Concord Pond and surrounding mountains.
On this day, Colby Frisbie, my friend from another Whitecap excursion two summers ago, joined in on the fun. As I learned from hiking with Colby on our first adventure, it’s always a great time when he’s around, because he’s motivated to finish and he loves to explore.
It was the first real warm day of summer and we set out on the trail about 11. It is a great trail with ledge, water, cool shaped trees and lots and lots of animal sign.
As we made our way to the summit of Bald and sat for a snack, we could see far to the west that included the distinct snow-covered ravines of Mt. Washington. It was a spectacular view.
The longer Colby sat in the hot sun, the more anxious he got to start moving and head to the other peak, so he and I ventured off around the ledge of the mountain to see the rest of the view and explore while his mom stayed back with the rest of the group.
Upon seeing the open ledge Colby stated, “Wow, it’s really a good thing my mom didn’t come over here with us. She’s really afraid of heights.”
We snapped a few pictures of one another and moved on around the mountaintop to reconnect with our group at the trail that would take us to the summit of Speckled. But, before we got there, Colby peered through an opening in the trees and could see the ledge-faced summit of Speckled, a mile away.
He turned and with a little hesitation, asked if that was where we were headed. I confirmed to him that we were, in fact, headed to that mountain. We agreed that he should lead us there and be the first to reach the summit, and off we went.
We met up with his mom and the three of us boogied down the trail between the two mountains and started up over Speckled, all the while snapping photos and cool observations along the trail. I think Colby spotted more moose skat in that mile than I’ve seen in my lifetime. That’s where he picked up the trail name Triple S…L! Which stands for Secret Skat Spotter…Leader! He loved the idea of a trail name and only allows us to use it while he’s on the trail.
When the terrain started getting a little steeper we slowed a bit, which allowed two teenagers the time to catch up and pass us. We assured Colby that he would still be the youngest to reach the summit first.
He pushed on up the steep incline and a few minutes later we were standing on the ledge with an amazing view of where we had just come from, as well as the rest of the mountains in the distance, including Black Mountain. Colby pointed to the mountain that was hiding Whitecap from view.
We enjoyed our lunch on top of the rocks, explored a couple lower ledges, took some more photos of the surrounding area with our sweaty, sun-kissed mugs in the middle of the scenery before heading back down.
Having a youngster along on a hike is just amazing, because they spot things in nature that adults wouldn’t necessarily take the time to stop and explore. Having Colby along on a hike is even more enjoyable, because he is always excited. He wants to see what’s around the next curve in the trail. He wants to know how to get to that steep section and pays attention to the blazes that mark the trail. He is eager to learn what he doesn’t yet know.
I look forward to more hikes with this kid, as well as Asher. They bring a whole new meaning to sharing the love of the outdoors.
If you have an adventure that you’ve taken your child on and want to share photos with me for print in the Rumford Falls Times or to see on our website, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also post your pictures to our Facebook wall with a small caption describing your outing.
Blessings to you as you introduce a child to the great outdoors or become more active in the outdoors for your own wellness.