This weekend, my running friends took me on my first backpacking adventure.
This meant hiking in the northern New Hampshire wilderness, spending the night in a tent, then hiking back out.
The trip included hiking up another 4000 footer, Mt. Cabot, my second 4000 foot mountain (Mt. Mansfield in Vermont being my first).
I must admit, I was a little worried about this trip.
I had hiked with these girls before...several times in fact. They have never steered me wrong, and have shown me the joy of climbing mountains. But this was a little different.
Backpacking is not hiking. Not only because you are carrying a 20 pound pack on your back, but because of what is in that pack.
Basically, what you need to survive.
Sleeping bag, tent, food, first aid kit, water (!), a way to get fresh water (purification), etc., a small burner/stove to boil water (instead of building a fire).
Could I carry everything I needed, and keep up with them? Would I freeze to death out in the woods?
The short version of the story...
IT WAS AWESOME!
I am so exhausted that even 2 days later my body is sore all over, and I am sleeping standing up. But it was so rewarding!
We had gorgeous weather the first day, not so good the second, but we still hiked almost 19 miles through the woods.
We started planning our next adventure in the car on the way out of the trailhead parking.
I think part of the reason we had such a good time, is that we complement each other so well.
I am the oldest, but they don't hold it against me. In fact, they push me, without telling me they are pushing me.
Does that make sense?
We all encourage each other. We have similar views on life.
Their kids are younger, but my kids will hang with them, and do things with them.
Our husbands get along.
On our drive up to New Hampshire, we talked about how we can only have so many friends. And it is true. I have found that over the years, that I have grown away from people that I used to be close to. Others (even though we don't talk to each other very often) are still close as ever. And there are others in between.
There are even some that I am starting to grow tired of.
These ladies are going to stick around for a long time!
We make each other laugh; we understand each other's feelings on certain topics. We console each other when there is heartbreak.
They are rock stars!
But back to the adventure.
We hiked along the Mill Brook and Kilkenny Ridge Trails, about 8 miles, to our campsite at Unknown Pond, a lovely spot, that had everything we needed...fresh water (that we filtered), a latrine (!), and a "bear box"--a lockable, communal, metal box that you could put your food in to keep the bears away.
During our first day, we hiked up to Roger's Ledge, which offered a great view southward towards the Presidentials--the series of mountains that most people recognize in New Hampshire, the most notable being Mount Washington (which you can see in the distance, partly shrouded by clouds).
We arrived at Unknown Pond around 4pm, quickly found a spot to pitch our tents, went down to the pond to filter water for dinner, and ate. Who knew that freeze dried Beef Stroganoff tasted so yummy! We were in bed by 8pm.
And then the wind began to howl.
Starting around 9pm (I know because I looked at my watch) the wind really picked up. The trees made it quite loud, making it difficult to sleep. Fortunately, it did not rain, and tree limbs did not fall.
The next morning dawned grey and windy. It was not a cold wind, so it ended up being good hiking weather, even if we couldn't see anything. Clouds hid our next destination, the peak of Mt. Cabot, but we were undeterred. We packed up our gear, had more freeze dried food for breakfast (not as good as the night before--lesson learned), and started off by 8am.
I need to learn to enjoy oatmeal!
Up, up, up we went. Not too steep, but enough to let our tired legs know that we were gaining elevation.
We stopped at "The Horn", "The Bulge" and finally the summit of Mt. Cabot.
Before reaching Mt. Cabot, we had seen a total of 2 couples hiking, and a dozen people at the campsite. But within 10 minutes of hitting the summit, day hikers began to arrive.
We encountered 30 people heading up as we heading down. And it was not an easy down. They asked if they were almost there...
Nope, keep on going.
The longer we hiked, the weather looked as if it was clearing. The wind did not seem as strong (although still windy). The sun actually came out.
By the time we reached the bottom, we were tired, sweaty, and ready for a burger and a beer.
We completed the Kilkenny Loop. Almost 19 miles (the last 2 were on the road back to the car), and 4600 feet of elevation gain (and loss).
And within 10 minutes of reaching the car, it began to pour! We finished just in time.
We stopped for food about an hour from where we would spend the night, in Littleton, NH. We didn't have burgers, but the pizzas, beer and pretzel was phenomenal!
I should have taken a picture of that pretzel!
I highly recommend Schilling Brewing Company located in an old mill building right on the river.
After a shower and sleep in a real bed, it was time to return to the real world...kids, husbands, work. etc.
But what a weekend it was.
We have dubbed it our First Annual Epic S&#! Adventure.
Since the BHAG didn't happen, we have decided that we need to find other "epic shit" to tackle!
Next year, we are thinking of 4 days of hiking, and reaching the summit of 4 or 5 more 4000 footers (2 of which are 5000+!).
Yes, more backpacking!
But it will be fun and exciting and an all around great time with great friends.
I cannot wait!
So it looks like I have new BHAGs to attempt! I'm not quitting triathlon, but backpacking sure is fun.
Because remember...I am the Museum Geek Triathlete!
Now with backpacking adventures too!
Below is the map of our adventure, in case you'd like to have your own Epic S#&! adventure!