Part 3: Hiking Tactics-Mt. Moriah & Imp Campsite- HTW 2018

 

Mount Moriah

“Carter-Moriah trail follows a logging road up a steep bank, then winds moderately upward through second-growth woods past several brushy logged areas. The trail climbs steeply, enters the White Mountain National Forest, and continues up through hardwoods. At 2.0 mi., a ledge down affords good views, and the trail soon passes to the right of the insignificant summit of Mt. Surprise and its small flume.  From here, the trail descends slightly, and then ascends gradually at first, but soon becomes steeper as it climbs over a series of ledges that have excellent views west and north; the ledges are slippery when wet. The trail stays near the ridge top but winds from side to side through the woods, crossing one wet, muddy stretch with deteriorating bog bridges. The trail traverses several ups and downs over ledgy humps. At 4.5, after a steep climb, a spur path leads right 50 yd. to the ledgy summit of Mt. Moriah, which affords excellent views.” White Mountain Guide, AMC’s Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Trails in the White Mountain National Forest¹  (emphasis mine) 

It’s kind of obvious if you are going to climb a mountain and summit its peak, you need to go up. Yet, there are varying degrees of “upness” that should be noted. There’s a gentle pitch, moderate incline, or a steep climb. Often times, the logical side of my brain tries to persuade me that a gentle pitch is a much better, safer, way go up in altitude, but the adventurous side of my brain, disagrees arguing “Where’s the fun and challenge in that?” So a fight breaks out between the two sides of my brain whether or not to stay in my comfort zone or be pushed out of it. To bring an end to the disagreement and restore peace, I often use a tactic called avoidance. Avoidance in hiking looks a lot like choosing not to read the trail descriptions before I hike the trail. This way, the unknown serves as equal ground and those highlighted words (noted above in trail description) do not even get a chance to spark a battle in my mind.

Our day started early at 6:30AM. We were gifted with perfect sunny weather-warm but not hot, breezy but not windy. The AMC hiker shuttle dropped us off right at the trailhead. This was another gift because we thought we would have to walk roadside a couple of miles before we reached to the actual trail.

True to the above trail description, the start of the hike (and most of the day) was strenuous with steep climbing, rock scrambling, and ledge walking. There were several times when I felt my confidence falter and thought I should have trained more, the rocks were too steep, my pack was too heavy, and I didn’t think I could do it. Those thoughts and moments were fleeting as I felt a renewed strength from God and I used another tactic-positive encouragement- while I cheered myself on with phrases like “slow and steady,”” one step in front of the other,” “you can do it.”

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Along with the challenge of this trail comes great reward. The Carter-Moriah trail is absolutely beautiful and offers a good diversity of natural things to admire in the form of boulder sculptures, moss covered trees, scratchy treeline ledges, mushy bogs with bridges, and cute little, colorful mushrooms dotting the sides of the trail.

We hiked most of the morning, stopping here and there to catch our breath, continued up and over the “insignificant” summit of  Mt. Surprise (Δ 2194 ft), and then onto Mt. Moriah (Δ 4049 ft) for lunch. It was our first 4,000-footer “bagged” on this trip. At the summit, we were blessed with excellent views and new people to talk with.

We chatted with other hikers, met an AT-thru hiker named Silver, and was introduced to a captain of the White Mountain Search and Rescue Team. We asked her to share her best tips and she told us a few things she wished every hiker knew in terms of safety. Here are two of them:

1.) Have a map! Do not rely on technology- like cell phone or fancy GPS devices. She had seen many people getting lost even with the GPS devices because they did not know how to use them correctly. Again, always have a physical map!! (CHECK √ )

2.) Make sure you always have enough supplies that you could spend one night outside if you had to. This includes water, food, matches, warm layers, and a sleep sheet. I had everything she mentioned and more… 😉 (CHECK √) 

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To be on a mountain top humbles me. To witness the breathtaking, dramatic landscape from such a height makes me feel small, childlike, full of wonder. From the summit of Mt. Moriah, we could see the Mount Washington and the Presidential Range-where we hiked last year- and The Carter Range- where we were heading next. From our vantage point, those next mountains seemed so far away. Yet we would be close to North Carter by 5:00 PM. When we were near North Carter, we would start looking for a place to camp.

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This is a view from the summit of Mt. Moriah looking across to where we were heading. It seems so far away. Depth perception in the mountains is an interesting thing.

 

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Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range, where we hiked last year. Thanks Paul and Anne at Rock-Village.com for a great picture.

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Getting closer to North Carter

The trail to North Carter descends very steeply down the ledges of Mt. Moriah and then follows a ridge crest as it winds its way through the woods. Occasional ledge lookouts, with additional views, spur you on along the trail. Several more signs along the trail would be helpful so you could determine your location along the trail. At times, it was difficult to know how far we had come or how much further we had to go. We pressed on and made our way to Imp Campsite.

We were not planning to stay at Imp Campsite, but we wanted to check it out. I had never been to AMC Campsite before and I was pleasantly surprised. Imp has a beautiful shelter, tent platforms, composting toilet, and even a “living room” chair. Our thru-hiker friend, Silver, was there and staying the night.

 

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AMC’s Imp Campsite- and what I am calling “the living room chair”

After taking a good look around Imp, we got back on the trail. By this point, I was really starting to feel tired and was more and more ready to find a spot to rest and set up our site for the night. This was to be the first time either of us had camped trailside. Our good friends, Gazelle, Hero and Silver, had given us a few tips and we knew we needed to be below the tree line, 200 ft. from the trail, and should pitch our tent on a flat area (not on moss or leaves to avoid bugs and mites.) Onward we went, on the lookout for a perfect spot, up and over one more mountain, Imp Mountain (Δ 3720 ft), before we found the place. It was really to be a perfect spot, and we were excited about trying this new experience.

Using Imp Campsite as a model, we quickly designated a cooking spot, a bathroom spot, a bear bag area, and a sleeping area. We were about to realize the result of a not so perfect shakedown….

Read: Part 1: Unprepared (and a little thing called jet lag) HTW-2018

Part 2: Part 2: A Hero, a Gazelle and a Shake Down- HTW 2018

 

¹AMC Guide to Hiking the Trails in the White National Forest


Our Summer Bucket List- Camping Edition #1

On Sunday afternoon, we decided that it was time to check camping off our Summer Bucket List. We packed the kids in the car, drove to the sporting goods store and purchased an eight-person tent and a queen sized air mattress. My husband and I decided that the kids would have to sleep on a skinny mats because that is what we had to do and before one gets to sleep in “comfort” one needs earn a certain number of hours in camping experience.

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We set the tent up in the backyard. Pumped up the air mattress. The kids unrolled the mats and sleeping bags. They brought out a few comforts from home- stuffed animals, blankies, and flashlights.We sat up in our tent talking. We made s’mores  and washed up in the house before ZIPPED the tent for the night.

It wasn’t long before the girls were fast asleep on their mats. My son had a hard time sleeping on a mat so we pulled him in between us. It took a good amount of time for him to fall asleep. But once he was asleep, he stayed asleep, on the air mattress, in between my husband and I. We never would have allowed our girls to do this but that is what happened when you are two, the baby of the family, and your parents are old and tired.

Here is how the night went for me:

10:00 PM- My son fell asleep.

10:00PM -11:30PM (?) A metal “dink” sound came from a neighboring yard….dink… dink…dink…It was loud and inconsistent. The type of noise that prevents you from falling asleep. We could not figure out what the noise was but a day later, we saw our neighbor’s son practicing hitting baseballs with his swing trainer. The same “dink” noise followed with each hit and the mystery was solved.

12:30 AM A loud meowing sound came from outside the tent. Our cat had been accidentally left outside and needed to be put in the house. UNZIP the tent. I enticed the cat into the house with treats. Back to the tent. UNZIP to get in and ZIPPED close again.

12:45 AM  The meowing sound AGAIN. I had left the sliding door open and could hear the car meowing wanting to come out back out. UNZIP the tent. Close the sliding door. UNZIP and ZIP the tent again.

1:00AM-4:00AM Various noises outside the tent. Apples dropping from the apple tree. Rustling noises from the woods behind our house. Some animal sniffing around and rubbing up against the tent. My husband says it was a bunny. I say it was something WAY bigger. Regardless, it kept us both up. This was added to the constant sleep interruption by my son’s feet in my face and his body rolling over my head.

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4:30AM Sunrise! Beautiful morning but the kids were still sleeping (thank the good Lord.) The peaceful sound of birds tweeting lulled me back to sleep.

6:00 AM- Kids up. We woke up. Time to take on the day!

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We made breakfast outside on a small camp stove and played Hello Kitty Uno with the girls. We didn’t look at computers or cellphone. The very-short break away from social media was nice.We laughed at the events of the night and imagined what animal really was lurking around our tent. My husband and I were both relaxed.  The kids were having a great time too.We were fully present and having fun.  Total fun score- 85% (15% off for no sleep.) But we can deal with no sleep. We have taken care of three newborns and survived.

With a successful camp-out under our belts, we packed up our camping gear. Rolled up the mats and sleeping bags. Deflated the air mattress. Took down the tent and packed it away. Our backyard was no longer a campsite.

My husband and I decided that this camping thing would be good for our family. My husband went to the basement and pulled out our old camping gear (stuff that has not been used in about 10 years.) We sorted and cleaned and prepared totes for our next adventure. When all of that was finished, we made a reservation for a campsite at a state park. With all the enthusiasm and expectation of great things to come, we are looking forward to our overnight trip. We are happy that we followed through with the activity on our bucket list. This small adventure will lead to many more and memories that will be last a lifetime.