Talking Tacos

wpt2There’s something about tacos – they’re fun, they’re tasty . . . they can also be trouble. As wonderful and delicious as they are, the filling can be full of greasy meat, saturated fat, and the amount of calories you’re supposed to eat over the course of a week. But don’t call the wha-mbulance just yet.

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I tried something tricky the other day and got away with it. Better yet, I was in on it and still managed to fool myself. I used veggie protein crumbles instead of ground beef, and it tasted almost exactly the same – maybe even a little better.

wpt1The lack of beef fat was tastefully disguised by extra cheese and guacamole – both  of which I love. True, the addition of extra high fat and calorie toppings may defeat the purpose of replacing the meat with a vegetarian substitute, but this culinary experiment was geared more towards future reference than present benefit. The main purpose of the experiment was to see if my husband would notice. He said he did – but not until after I revealed the box, which was after his first taco had disappeared. Like Frankenstein’s monster, the experiment was a success!

 

Hiking Mount Hale

haleThis past  weekend we hiked Mount Hale. At 4055 feet, we got to cross another name off the White Mountain 4000 footer list. That’s about it. One of the quicker 4000 footer hikes, it was much like climbing a flight of stairs for almost 2 hours.

The summit was a ring a trees encircling a clearing with a stone cairn and the rusted remnants of an old fire tower. We covered the 4.6 miles hike in under 4 hours, including our lunch break at the top. Although the hike was boring and unremarkable, it was a necessary evil to achieve our goal. Like a band-aid, we removed it as quickly and painlessly as possible from our path to victory, leaving the way clear for future triumphs. Now off to better climbs!

Trekking the Tripyramids

tripyramid1Once upon a time, many years ago, I was an archaeology major. I was (and still am) enthralled by mysteries like Stonehenge, the Nazca Lines, and the Egyptian Pyramids. While this line of academic pursuit was abandoned for a degree that promised a more lucrative future, I still get a thrill from reading about ancient ruins and cultures.

tripyramid9I have to admit I was excited when we decided to hike the Tripyramids last weekend. The name is so much cooler than Lafayette, Whiteface or Liberty, even if imagination fell a little short on dubbing the three peaks North, South, and Middle Tripyramid. The mountains are so named because of their three distinctive peaks. As only two of the three are officially on the New England’s 4000 footer list, we decided to hike only those two – North and Middle Tripyramid. This would allow us to take the path less traveled, a trail that would avoid the infamous ‘slide’ on North Tripyramid, and which would bring us down along the Sabbaday Brook and waterfall in an eleven mile loop.

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Although the day wasn’t particularly hot, the air was thick and humid. As we hiked along the Pine Bend Brook, the mosquitoes swarmed in droves, sticking to our sweaty faces, and on several occasions, flying directly into my eyes. Not my favorite part of the hike. I do have to say, however, that this was one of the more visually interesting hikes I’ve been on. Moss covered rocks, a wide range of foliage, and over a dozen different types of mushrooms made for a nice view – at first.

tripyramid11This was the first hike where we used our new Camelbak packs and the trekking poles we received for Christmas. The packs were great. We didn’t have to stop to drink, and their streamlined design resulted in much less gravity drag while scrambling across large rock slabs. The sticks were also a huge help. I hadn’t realized how much strain they reduce on your legs, and they’re awesome for river crossings.

tripyramid4We made it to the summit of North Tripyramid (4,160 feet) soaked, but in good spirits. I climbed down to the little ledge that provided the only view, took a few pictures, we ate lunch, and then we were off. Middle Tripyramid (4,120 feet) was conquered soon enough, and after a  few pictures shrouded by a nasty looking storm cloud, we began the five mile descent. That’s where things got a little dicey.

tripyramid5It seems that very few people take this way down. The trail is narrow, claustrophobic in places, and covered in hurdles. We played a game of over – under – over as we negotiated through the maze of trees that had fallen across the trail, in some places using branches overhead to swing over gaps or to balance while walking down trunks. Blazes on the trail were few and far between. Then came the river crossings. No stepping stones across, no fallen trunks, no option other than wading in knee deep, digging into the river bed with our trekking sticks to keep balance against the rushing current. Over and over and over again.

tripyramid6At one point we were on the trail, which continued ahead of us, when we saw a blaze on a tree growing on a strip of land down the middle of the river. So we crossed, walked down the middle of the river for a bit, until we were led back to the trail we had been on. I became convinced that some individual(s) had brought their own paint to blaze a trail of madness for their own personal amusement.

sabbaday1By this time, my mood was not the best it could be. I was tired of wading across the river, tired of the trail, tired of feeling like someone’s fool. Then we hit the falls. Reaching the falls meant that we were only a half mile from the parking lot, and a flat half mile at that. After eleven miles, we could still cover the distance and be back at the car in ten minutes. But the Sabbaday Falls were beautiful. They could not be ignore.

sabbadayLike an ancient ruin that had stood the test of time,  it was a magnificent wonder, cutting a deep gash through the rock with its liquid tongue. Bad moods were abandoned as we happily sloshed out into the water, this time by choice, to take pictures. I can’t say that I suggest taking the Sabbaday Falls Trail as a descent from Middle Tripyramid, but I definitely recommend the half mile hike from the parking lot to see the falls.

Farewell Old Friend

002The time has come for me to retire my faithful old friend, the Goonies backpack. It’s so old that it carried my books across several campuses back when I was a student – both college and high school. It was strapped to my back the first time I tried to climb a mountain.
It helped me conquer the Mount Flume/Liberty loop, the most challenging hike I’ve experienced to date.
But there’s no denying that the time has come.
You really shouldn’t be able to read a newspaper through 007the thread-worn bottom of your pack. And I don’t think a corduroy Jansport backpack with a few modifications was ever really intended to be used for mountain climbing. Or for multiple decades.

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It wasn’t an easy decision, but my trusty old buddy has been replaced by a three liter camelbak pack with padded shoulder straps, as well as waist and chest straps to help distribute the weight of the load. The sleek, narrow design is less of a hindrance when climbing, and the water tube leading from the bladder enables a drink without stopping for a break, which is a bonus, but I’ll miss hearing other hikers shout, “Goonies never say die!” in passing. It was almost like having a mascot with you on the hike. Now with my new big girl pack, it’s like I’ve grown up a little more. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll get a patch. Or a sticker 😉