Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves

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lostriver1lostriverLast month, thanks to an awesome deal through Groupon, we went and explored Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves in Woodstock, New Hampshire. This attraction features a series of over 1000 stairs leading you up, down, and through a glacial gorge notched into huge slabs of granite rock. Winding your way past a series of cascades, you can’t help but feel the weight of the passage of time upon the landscape. And while I wasn’t feeling the caves that day, (I proved myself enough at the Polar Caves in Rumney), there were a ton of tight, twisty little passages for spelunkers to explore. This is a fun excursion, easily lengthened by numerous hiking trails. While there, I highly recommend exploring the great towns of Woodstock and Lincoln, and taking in  the gorgeous views, especially if you find your way to the Kancamagus Highway.

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Mortal Fall by Christine Carbo ~ Fiction Book Review

25987140Christine Carbo is an excellent writer. She draws the reader into her characters’ world, making them see what they see, putting the reader into their fictional shoes. Her descriptions and insights are wonderful. That said, for a suspense novel, her writing is a little too good. By that I mean that perhaps it’s too literary. The wonderfully crafted sentences detract from the story’s momentum.

Maybe I’m alone in this as a reader and a writer, but I feel there’s a huge distinction between sentences that leave you breathless due to beautifully crafted language and those that leave you breathless due to magnificently crafted suspense. It’s hard for the two to meet. Not impossible, but hard.

The good news is that over the course of the hundreds of pages of a novel, there’s a time and a place for both. Reading is like breathing. When the tension mounts, the sentences, like our breathes, need to become shorter – quick, simple and easy, with nothing to take the reader out of the zone. Wordiness bogs the reader down, slowing their pace, their breathing, their heartbeat. It brings them back to reality, and who wants that?

I enjoyed this book, but found it a little too slow because of the good writing. Is that a valid complaint? Carbo in a new author and I have a feeling she’s got wonderful things in store for her readers. I love reading about Montana’s wilderness and Glacier National Park. 4-4.5 stars.

 

Mount Washington, NH ~ through the hiker’s lens

At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the highest mountain in the northeastern United States, and one of the 48 New Hampshire 4000 footers. Home to a weather observatory, a cog rail, and an auto road, it’s accessible to anyone in the area that wants to visit. For those who choose to hike to the summit, it’s an entirely different experience – one as beautiful as it is dangerous. The view as seen from the trail:

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North and South Twin Mountains

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We recently hiked North and South Twin Mountain, making us officially 50% done with the New Hampshire 4000 footers! We began the hike off Haystack road, approaching from the north. There were some crazy river crossings on this trail, including a scoot across a fallen log over a raging torrent of rushing water – perhaps approaching from this side is a better idea when there hasn’t been heavy rains in the area?

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After what seemed like forever (but was really only 3.5 hours), we reached the overlook for North Twin. Although only 1.3 miles from the summit of South Twin, the distance looked long and daunting, especially since this hike was and in and out instead of a loop, which meant hiking over to South Twin, then back over to North before heading down. Basically hiking up – down – up – down – up – down. There’s no way your legs aren’t going to feel that :-/

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At 4902 feet, South Twin is the 8th highest of the 4000 footers (North is 12th). This hike was a challenge, but the views were incredible! The 11 mile hike took us just under 8 hours, which would have been shorter if my knee had been a little more agreeable on the way down. All in all, an awesome hike with breathtaking payoffs at the top. If you approach from the south, the AMC’s Galehead Hut is about a mile from the South summit, providing an alternative for those who don’t want to tackle the hike in a single day.

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(Surprise) to Mount Moriah – Another 4000 footer bites the dust!

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So . . . what can I say that’s nice about this hike? The view was gorgeous. And that’s about it. While incredibly beautiful, Moriah was one nasty lady on the day we hiked her. Or maybe I shouldn’t blame her. Maybe it’s not her fault. Maybe it’s that the surprise part of hiking over (and especially back over, on  the way down) Mount Surprise is that it seems to never end. Ever. Twilight Zone, stuck doing the same thing forever, never. Surprise!

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Of course, it could also be that we hiked it on what was the hottest day of the year so far. And being 4000+ feet closer to the sun really does seem to make it feel hotter. Especially when you’re drinking over a pound of water an hour and sweating it out twice as fast as you can drink it. Then there’s that whole searing heat radiating up from the sun baked rock thing. It could be that some of that added to the sour taste this hike left in my mouth.

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Whatever the case, I didn’t love this hike. Except when it was over. Actually, not until it was several days done with, but who’s counting (besides me). The important thing is that we completed the 9 miles safely. Some hikes are better than others. Some days make conditions more difficult. That’s what we prepare for. It isn’t always easy, but most things worth working for aren’t. The next hike will be better.

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At 4049 feet, Mount Moriah is #41 on New Hampshire’s list of 48 4000 footers.

Middle Mountain

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Middle Mountain is an 1857 foot peak in North Conway, NH that offers an excellent view of the valley below. Start at the Pudding Pond trail head (heading north on North-South Road, take a right onto Artist Falls Road, then another right onto Thompson Road, trail parking is on the right). When you see the kiosk with trail info, take the path to the left and chose the fork closer to the parking area.

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This is an easy hike with a great payoff. It can easily be combined with a side trip to Peaked Mountain, also with a great view of the valley. Your hike can be further stretched to include Black Cap and Cranmore Mountains, all part of the Green Hills Preserve.

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Mount Jackson ~ Presidential Range, NH

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Although part of the Presidential Range of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Mount Jackson was named after 19th century Geologist Charles Thomas Jackson and not President Andrew Jackson.

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At 4052 feet, it is the 38th tallest of New Hampshire’s 48 4000 footers.

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This is a moderate hike with numerous river crossings and rock scrambles.

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There’s a great view of Mount Washington in the (not so far) distance.

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In mid-May, there was still quite a bit of ice on the trail.

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The views from the summit are wonderful, if very, VERY windy.

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 It was our first 4000 footer of the season, and I’m not going to lie – it was rough.

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The 5.6 mile hike took us about 4.5 hours, though I have no doubt that the hike could be done much faster.

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Jockey Cap ~ Fryeburg, Maine

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Jockey Cap is a 600 foot glacial boulder in Fryeburg, Maine that offers exceptional views with about 10 minutes of (somewhat strenuous) effort. Enough to get your heart pumping, but over before you think about lying down.

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To find the trail, navigate to Quinn’s Jocky Cap General Store. Part across the street. The trail head is in the back left corner of the parking lot when facing the store.

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Wild By Cheryl Strayed ~ Nonfiction Book Review

wpb6This book is brutally honest. The author splays herself across the pages, revealing hers sins and transgressions, opening herself up for judgement and condemnation. As I was looking over some of the reviews on Goodreads, I was surprised by how many people chose to do just that. I was shocked by how readily the jackals ripped this book apart.

Who reads a memoir about someone who has always made all the right decisions and known their path in life? Sounds pretty boring to me.

Maybe you can’t relate to some of Strayed’s mistakes. Maybe you find her behavior completely unforgivable and reprehensible. Maybe that’s how she felt about herself. Maybe that’s why she rashly decided to hike over 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail when she was so ill prepared – to face her demons and her own behavior and find a way to embrace her mistakes as a necessary part of her journey through life. There is no sugar coating in the pages of this book. What you will find in this book is honesty, humor, and one individual’s tale of survival – not of the PCT, but of the situations thrown at her by life.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed is one of those books that exists on many different levels. It’s a book about adventure, a story to fuel wanderlust and exploration. It’s a tale about searching for one’s self and a place to belong – not in the sense of an actual place, but within yourself. It’s a book about making mistakes and losing your direction in life. And it’s a novel about the untimely loss of a parent.

I immensely enjoyed Strayed’s insightful prose, beautiful descriptions and sharp wit. I appreciated her story. You may not. In my opinion, five stars.

Cliff Walk in York, Maine

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cliffwalk5It was a warm December day in New England – not many sentences are going cliffwalkto start like that. It was 50 degrees, the sun was shinning full force, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and we decided to make the most of the opportunity. We drove to the Maine coast  to walk along the shore. More specifically, we drove to Cliff Walk in York, Maine, to walk along the cliffs that border the beach.

cliffwalk7cliffwalk9On one side, you have super expensive, fancy houses. On the other side, there’s
a drop to the rocks below. Everywhere you’re surrounded by beauty. Fresh, clean air, peace and quiet, and an amazing  view – this is an experience not to be missed.

cliffwalk4The walk is not very challenging, but there is a fair amount of up and down, and soon enough, we were able to shed our sweaters and enjoy the beautiful Maine December day in our t-shirts!!! I still can’t believe it. The only things I can suggest to make Cliff Walk better is that I wish it was much longer.