After last week's ordeal, and with warm temperatures plus abundant sunshine forecasted, my needs were simple. 6-8 miles, well packed trail, and great views. Bob was going to be out hiking, Joe was ready. Pierce and Ike were thrown out, but Bob needed Monroe and since he was going to have company, we decided on that. Greg jumped on board at the last minute, his time constraints going away. And at the last minute (as in, the drive up) we changed plans yet again back to Pierce and maybe Ike. I didn't care, I just wanted views. I'd only been up there once, two decades ago, in socked in, cold rain.
As Lafayette came into view on the drive up, I knew it'd be a brilliant day. Excitement mounted. We pulled into the lot (thankfully plowed) and got a phone call. Now Brian was on board, making for a full group hike. Only problem was Brian still thought we were doing Monroe. Well, no, the real problem was we'd have to listen to Brian complain about he thought he was doing Monroe. As an added bonus, Keith, Julie and June (yes, Katahdin, too) pulled into the lot. We run into these guys everywhere! Had a nice chat and they set out ahead of us.
The trail was packed hard, but I was concerned it would soften significantly in the afternoon, so I packed up Joe's snowshoes. Yeah, Joe's. I fogot mine and he fortunately had a spare pair. Brilliant. I went with spike initially with no issues, barely denting the trail. It was already gorgeous out, and I was down to a base layer in no time.
I still, however, felt I was dragging. I checked my odometer to see a depressing 0.4 miles had passed. Ugh. This might be a long slog up. Chug chug chug. Churn churn churn. At least the good talk and laughs passed the time, mileage and elevation gain. We saw a few folks heading down, and stepped aside for a couple moving up somewhere not far from the Mizpah junction. Bob, Brian and I were standing there when “PHOOMPH!” About a 5 second snow bomb dumped on us. My back got instantly soaked, and my bare hands instantly went from toasty to freezing. Argh. It could only get worse in this weather.
I finally tossed on the shoes after slipping more than I cared. We spotted a bird and found a Gray Jay waiting. I dug out some nuts and obliged. Moving along we came to the junction. I was definitely dragging ass at this point, but hey, almost there, right? Sorta... Now I was falling behind the guys, in part due to lack of speed, but also because I was taking copious pictures. I passed a conga line of people and finally caught up for a bit, just in time to see Joe go down. Again.
Little did I know the woman in the picture was lecturing Greg on postholing earlier, which was highly amusing given barebooters were barely making an inch of indentation into the trail. Hike my hike, dammit. I fell behind again as the views opened up, with the guys waiting at the junction. Bob and I had already decided against Eisenhower, and as I spotted it off in the distance, I knew I didn't have the energy to make it. The summit was busy, but with only a light breeze and crystal clear skies, was well worth it.
Joe was apparently unaware I got a new camera, upped from 26X zoom to 50X, so I took a close-up of Washington, trying to shove it in his face, but he wouldn't look. Fun little game we have.
Thanks to peakfinder.org, I had a cheat sheet and spied some old friends like Stub Hill, Magalloway, Hutchins, Savage, and Teapot, bringing back memories good and, well, interesting. I also got a real swell view of Dixville and Kelsey. Yay.
I took pictures of the view of Deception, completing the circle of taking a picture of the Presis from there. I took pictures of the Twins, Lafayette, Rosebrook, etc. etc. I took a lot of pictures. It was such a gorgeous day, and I wanted to soak it all in. I also spied Jay Peak, where we were a couple weeks ago.
It finally occurred to me I hadn't got a picture of all 5 of us on this momentous occasion, so I asked someone to snap a picture.
No one wanted to continue to Ike, so finally packs were thrown on, and though I could've stayed for another hour, we headed down. It was quick, and the snowbombs were starting to really drop up high (including some man made ones, hee hee), but were pretty much done down low. Keith, Julie and June caught up just as I'd had it with Joe's Atlas shoes. The back bindings wouldn't stay tight, and I was constantly adjusting them. “You forgot your shoes, Joe loans you his, and you're ragging on them?” “Yeah, that's the kind of guy I am!” Actually, that's how we all are. We wouldn't expect any less.
Back at the lot, it was warm. Like t-shirt warm. Crazy. I had thought to myself, watch, as soon as I go to change my pants, the folks next to us will show up. Sure enough, right on cue. I waited, and heard “Reeeelax, we're outside,” a presumed reference to my cigarette. Give me a break, please, I didn't know you'd show up when you did. Or did I? We lazily got packed away to jokes about Brian's Holy Fluids and set off to GH Pizza (first time there, I was pleased) for some more yuks and much needed food. Great day to get everyone back together again, great day to get my views from Pierce. Hell, just a great day all around.