Note: This actually took place a week and a half ago, but in what is becoming the usual, I’m only now getting around to posting it…
Despite the awful conditions of that hike, our initial 4000-footer conquest only served to whet our appetite for this endeavor—that is, taking down each of the 48 4000-footers in New Hampshire.
Next target: Mt. Tecumseh, the shortest of the 4000-footers at 4003 feet.
We decided that this would be just an up-and-back day trip for us (*), so we headed out from the house around 8:00 in the morning. It only took us about an hour and a half to make the drive up to Waterville Valley and the trailhead for the Mt. Tecumseh Trail (which would take us directly to the summit), and unlike the hike up Mt. Pierce, the weather for the hike up Mt. Tecumseh could not have been better: sunny skies, highs in the 70s. Much better-equipped than last time—that is, proper clothing, a much more appropriate pack, and hiking poles—we were on our way by mid-morning.
[(*) Back story: Truth be known, I had been slightly ambivalent about hiking this weekend. I knew we were in for some nice weather, and I had planned to take advantage of it to get to some much-needed yardwork (primarily, mowing the lawn). So on Thursday, I got home from work… to find the lawn freshly mown. And she hates mowing the lawn. “Now can we play?” she teased—she really wanted to go hiking this weekend. :-)]
Honestly, the ascent up to the top was largely uneventful. I don’t mean this in a boring, ho-hum sort of way, only that (unlike the ascent up Pierce) there was nothing out of the ordinary on our way up. About the only thing of note was the group of guys we ran into at a scenic vista a little less than halfway up the trail—they were obviously having a good time out with the boys, and their festive mood was contagious. But all in all, it was a very pedestrian 2 1/2 hours up the trail to the top.
And it was a veritable traffic jam atop Mt. Tecumseh: a father and his two kids; a couple and their young (1-year-old) hiker-to-be; and the festive cadre that we’d run into at the vista coming up (who were now sharing a celebratory fifth of Chivas—like I said: “festive”). We were the last ones up in this jam, so one by one, the groups made their way out and down until my sweetie and I were the only ones atop the mountain.
While we were finishing off our mid-hike snack, the dad and the two kids prepared to make their way down. (They were the last to leave before us.) I don’t recall the exact comment my sweetie made at that time, but the resulting exchange among the family as they started their descent was priceless:
Dad: Oh, she must know me. Because after all, I am…
Kids (in unison): …the Safety Dad.
(You had to be there for yourself—the completely monotonous and weary tone of the kids’ reply made it obvious that this was about the millionth time they’d heard—and had to recite—that particular line…)
Our descent was pretty much a mirror image of the climb to the top, but since we knew what to expect (having passed it all on the way up), it felt even more straightforward. Stopping at the scenic vista on the way down, we once again ran into the dad and the kids. As we chatted with the dad and daughter (the son had run off on his own back into the woods), the girl yelled after her brother. The dad reminded her that that’s not what you did—you used your whistle instead. One whistle is to be responded to with two whistles, and three whistles meant an emergency. So what’s the next thing we hear from the woods? No whistles, but rather a loud, sustained *beeeeeeelch* from the son from off in the distance. “Now loud burping, on the other hand…” said the dad, as he and the daughter said their goodbyes to us and trailed off into the woods themselves.
Very shortly after leaving the scenic vista, we passed a family of four, including two young boys, who were on their way up. After we said our hellos and went by them, we could hear one of the boys ask his mom, “Are we almost there yet?” Given that they had only gone through the easiest part of the hike, we didn’t have the heart to tell them that they weren’t even halfway yet and that it only got harder from there.
A little over two hours after heading down, we were back in the parking lot at the base of the mountain, in our car, and on our way back home. So no, not as “exciting” a hike as the last one (in that everything this time was completely normal), but that was just fine with us. The first hike was an ordeal; this one was a hike.
The final numbers:
- Total time (round-trip): about 5 hours
- Total distance (round-trip): 5 miles
- Elevation gain: 2200 feet