Saturday, June 18, 2005

My First 4,000 Footer

Now that I'm back relaxing at home with my two favorite guys (my spectacular boyfriend and my puppy) napping beside me I think I'll finally get around to writing about my big accomplishment of the week, climbing my first 4,000 foot mountain. We climbed Mt Tecumseh (elevation 4003 feet) on Thursday. I hadn't really planned to take on such a big challenge so soon back into my hiking adventures, but the mountain sat outside the window of our condo in Waterville Valley all the time just looking at me and when my boyfriend put out the idea of climbing it as something we might want to do that day I thought it would be cool to be able to look right back at the mountain looming outside the window and know I had been to the summit.
When we hiked the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail last weekend it was in the high 80s with crazy humidity and no breeze and it was tough. On Thursday the temperatures where in the low 50s. It was cloudy and the weather forecast cautioned there would be showers passing through. When we drove up to the trailhead at Waterville Valley ski area there was only one other car parked there. I thought it was just as well because I consider myself a slow pokey hiker and I wouldn't need to feel intimidated about it if no one else was around.
The trail is wooded the whole way up to the summit and it was cloudy enough that there weren't really any views to speak of in the few places we'd expected to find them. Even though the trail was quite rocky, I felt a lot more comfortable on it than I had on the rocky ledges of Welch and Dickey. It just feels like I might start rolling down and not stop until I hit the bottom on those open rock surface. The lower part of the trail was pleasant and crossed and recrossed a couple of streams. It was after we stopped to check out the not really existent view from the side of a ski slope that the going got steeper and even rockier. Despite all the huffing and puffing, my legs did not feel angry so much this time and I was able to hit a sustainable stride for a while. As we were nearing the summit we passed a group of three hikers heading back down. They were a younger woman and two older women. We exchanged greetings and joked about the great views. It's very inspiring to me to see especially women older than me out on the trail. I got a little boost after that and when we came upon a sign that pointed to two different trails up to the summit I was sure it was just around the corner as the way the light came through the trees had also changed. It was around a few more corners than I had originally expected, but when we reached the summit I felt very happy and we stopped for a bit to take a rest. My truly wonderful boyfriend was even kind enough to share his sandwich and trail mix with me since I had forgotten mine back on the couch at the condo. We reached the summit in two hours and ten minutes, which was even ten minutes faster than the time listed in the guide book and made me feel just a bit less pokey than I had previously.
On the way down I used my boyfriend's trekking poles. I hadn't even known about using poles for hiking but now I think I really need to get some. They took a little while to get used to but they definitely sped up my descent time and kept my knee pain to a minimum until we were almost back down to the base when they started to hurt a little more bitingly.
I was most certainly tired by the time we made it back to the car, but I was also very pleased. And when I had that nice cold beer after taking a shower back at the condo and settled down to watch a little mindless tv and nap it felt like heaven.


Heidi said...

are you hooked? there are only 47 left. :)

Pam said...

Yeah, I think I am! I'm already looking at maps and trying to figure out which one is next.