Monday, July 24, 2006

Overnighter at Mt. Carrigain 1

Mt. Carrigain is a 4680 ft mountain in the White Mountains area of New Hampshire. Our plan was to do an overnighter on a loop-trail at this mountain, over two days on the Fourth of July weekend.

A Plan... :-)

It all started Friday when I stumbled into EMS outfitters. I needed a nice pair of hiking boots. I have always had trouble with them. I have ended each hike with hurting feet. Well, they had a sale on, and in addition to the boots, I also bought a backpack and a rain-slicker. I have low sales resistance :-)

I was at Ra42's in Boston Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon, we strolled over to the local Eastern Mountain Sports to look up possible hiking trails and pick up some more gear. It might be noticed that we have a pretty laid back attitude to trip planning and timing. Lazy as I am, Ra42 is worse and in all, we end up doing things at the last minute. It's definitely not a good idea. While we manage to pull off decent trips, just a small delta increase in planning can definitely have big changes in the overall trip experience.

I was initially not keen on hiking in New Hampshire. The trails have been overcrowded and once, when I made it to the top of a hill, there was an entire troupe of interpretative dancers performing to some faux native american music. Another hill, was crowded to the point where it was more like Central Park rather than a hill. Not my idea of a good hike :-)

Howeverm by the time we were going over the trail maps at the EMS store, The White Mountains were the only choice. So, we chose a trail that was in the Northern side of NH after having been assured by the EMS guy that 'There will be very few people up there'. After perusing a '100 Hikes in the White Mountains' guidebook, we decided that Mt. Carrigain (in the Pemigawasset wilderness area) would provide the right combination of isolation (my requirement) and a loop-trail (Ra42's requirement).

So, at long last, having stocked up on our camp-food (bread, cheese and 3 apples) we finally showed up at the parking lot at 8:00 pm. We decided to do a clockwise hike (Up the Signal Ridge trail, down Desolation Trail and Carrigain Notch trail back. For whatever reason, we assumed that the Desolation Trail was an easy hike. And we would soon be proved wrong. As we were getting ready, we met up with two hikers who were leaving the trail who had done the same clockwise hike and told us that they had done it in about 9 hours or so. They also said 'Oh, there are going to be a lot of mosquitos on the way, but I am sure that you already knew that.' Well, we didn't, but we'd brought along bugspray. We would have occasion to remember those words...

Finally, at 8:30 PM, bags all packed up, bugspray on, we finally hit the trail.

Ideally, I should have read up on backpacking and I didn't. Now, I had packed my tent incorrectly. You will observe that the tent (the blue thing) is packed vertically on the backpack. This is a Bad Idea. What happens is that the tent 'pulls back' and stresses the shoulder and neck. In about 45 minutes, I was starting to seriously wonder if this whole backpacking thing was a good idea.

We hiked till we got to Carrigain Notch Trail. This is about 1.7 miles and we covered it in about an hour. This of course meant that we had to set up camp in near-complete darkness. I don't think I have ever once setup camp in daylight :-) We had the tent up quickly. Practice does make perfect. :-)

Signal Ridge, Desolation, mosquitos and parvaane. In the next post ..

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