Thursday we decided on Mt. Hale. Eric hasn't been there on his 48 list yet, and it was a hike we figured wouldn't kill us. Neither of us had been out in a while and a nice shake-down hike seemed the way to go. We left early Friday morning with no plan other than to go to Mt. Hale. As we left Franconia Notch I threw out the idea of going up the Firewarden's Trail. I explained that it was an unofficial trail but as long as we were able to find the beginning of it, we should have little or no trouble following it. He was on board with that idea so we made the turn onto Haystack Rd.
The North Twin Trail parking lot was just about full when we got there but we were able to find a space to squeeze into. Several groups were gearing up, we put on our packs and started up the trail. We made it to the bushwhack by-pass,which now seems to be a regular trail. Does anyone follow the North Twin Trail across all three river crossings anymore?
So onto the bushwhack trail. At one point I tripped and fell. I landed on my side, on a rock, hitting my lower ribs on the rock. Ouch! Fortunately for the rock, I didn't hit my head on it. We took a few minutes so I could evaluate any injuries. There were a few scrapes and scratches, a little blood, and some mud. You now how I feel about mud and blood - it's not really a hike if there's no mud and blood! Oh, and sore ribs. Eric hovered like a worried parent despite my assuring him I was OK. We continued on and found the Firewarden's Trail right where it was supposed to be.
I haven't been here for several years and I forgot what a nice trail it is. It has forgiving grades (in most places) and it's well shaded. There isn't much in the way of views but Mt. Hale isn't a view hike. It's on a list so we hike it! Along the way we saw a few ceramic conductors on some trees, left over from the firetower days. We were disappointed upon reaching what we thought would be the summit to see the trail dip down into a col. But, another 10 or 15 minutes and we walked onto the open summit. We spent just a few minutes there. There isn't much to see. A large rock cairn and some trees, that's about it.
We began the trek out. The hike down seemed steeper that the hike up. At least we were descending. I was being careful with foot placements, I learned early on the hike down that any misstep or jarring step really hurt! Eric asked if I wanted to stop. It was a nice idea but no matter what we still had to walk out. It was an uneventful trip out and I was thankful not to fall again. It took about two hours to reach the car. Eric and I talked most of the way- about hiking, work, life, and every 10 minutes or so "are you alright Dad?" With each step the discomfort increased but there was not need to tell him that. I just wanted to get to the car and sit down.
If only it was that easy! My barbecued ribs made even the simple act of untying by boots extremely difficult. It took some time but we got out of sweaty hiking clothes and into clean regular clothes. It took another few minutes to come up with a way to get into my truck. On the ride home I got the genius idea to go over the Sandwich Notch Road to Moultonborough to make a stop at the Old Country Store. Shoulda thought that one through. Sandwich Notch Road is a road in name only! It is maintained, but just barely so. It is bumpy, rocky, and rutted. Each jolt of the road had me wincing.
We got home and I packed myself in ice for a few hours, then attempted to get a good nights sleep. I was very stiff this morning. I don't think I will be able to accomplish anything on my to-do list today. I'm SO disappointed!