Another day for a NH3k finish, this time for Greg. Greg, who started the list 2 years after me, and blew right on by. That's amazing to do the NHHH and NH3k in only 2 years. Bravo!
Greg's finish was Little Wildcat, a short and relatively easy whack as long as you don't mind some steepness, so Desi joined in the usual crew. After some discussion of routes, Greg chose the direct route from Glen House, the route I had taken before. Signalling the weirdness that would come, I actually showed up a half-hour early, and Greg was a touch late. That gave me some time to take some pictures of the awesome view across the street.
We went up a little road beside the barn and ran into some brush, then finding a ski trail which we followed until it went off in the wrong direction. From there, it was open woods with some hobblebush here and there. The usual antics were in play, Joe bitching about everything, us putting down Joe. We took it nice and slow for Desi's sake, and the steepness and heat weren't exactly pushing me to move quickly anyway. The bugs weren't too bad today. They were out, but no need for bug dope. It was getting warm however.
We kept finding evidence of old logging roads, but as logging roads generally do, they slab the slope instead of taking you up. Around 2600', the woods started changing to softwoods, but were still open enough. Joe and Brian went off in a more direct line to the summit, while I stuck with Greg and Desi as he slabbed south around the steepest stuff. It did get steep enough eventually and we'd hit the occasional ledge, which we got around easily enough. One final push and we hit the open plateau. I stopped and asked Greg if he smelled something. Like me, he said food. A second whiff a little later and I swore it was hot dogs. This kept happening and I was getting psyched that maybe, just maybe, Joe and Brian were at the summit cooking up some dogs. Yeah!
We arrived at the summit to no Brian and Joe, but a stuffed cat and a mooning lawn gnome. OK, they were hiding. And no hot dogs. What the hell had we smelled? So with a few more steps, Greg was done with the NH3k's. A big grin broke out on my face, as I (almost) knew all he had accomplished to be here today. A lot of beautiful woods, surprise views, a fair bit of horrible woods, diverse conditions, lots of driving. Good days, bad days.
And so came out the Gifts of Stupidity. The best one was Brian's chicken head. Greg is a lover of all food chicken. I had spaced getting something, so I dug out my rubber chicken and bequeathed it as Greg's mascot. Brian had his mooning lawn gnome, now Greg has a clucker. Joe contributed a funny shirt playing off Greg's moniker.
It was comfortably warm on the summit, so we lounged a bit before heading back. Greg, whose amazing ability to find open woods I've constantly extolled, led us into scrappy crap right away. Desi, not a bushwhacker, was making her displeasure known to our amusement. It didn't get any better and we were now stuck on the wrong side of a ridge and had to fight our way over, never coming out into good woods until around 2800'. Oh well, we all miss from time to time, but it was pretty funny it should happen on his finish. Through this I realized I lost my cigarettes. Uh oh, this can't be good. I jokingly warned Greg if he screwed up again I'd probably kill him out of sheer nicotine withdrawal.
At 2600' we came back into the hardwoods and beelined it back to the car. A quick change, food plans were made, but I again wanted to get home in the afternoon, and I sped off to Gorham to the nearest convenience store. Ahhhh, better.
Now two of my buds have finished the NH3k. I'm very happy for them for obvious reasons, but also that they are now free to pursue whatever interests them. I never have, nor do I see the list as a burden, but my thoughts lately drift increasingly to all the other hiking things I want to do. At seven peaks left, that will come soon enough.