Hillstomping Update: Mts. Hale, Wiley, Field, and Tom

Two kick-ass hikes in two days! Monday, Ouzo and I bagged Mt. Hale (elev. 4054 ft.), one of New Hampshire’s 48, 4,000 footer peaks. We went up the Hale Brook Trail and returned on the Zealand Trail for a round trip of a little more than eight miles. Perfect weather, clear blue skies with enough of a breeze to keep the blood suckers off without needing DEET. The Hale Brook Trail is a nice climb to the summit, some of it through a cool birch forest. Didn’t see anyone else on the trail, either. Now the Zealand Trail was another story. Being a flat, easy trail, it was a freakin’ highway through the woods with lots of pastey, overweight office-types smelling like soap in clean, pressed hiking clothes unstained by sweat or grime. Several people looked resentful at seeing a dog on the trail. It’s a wilderness area, not Disneyland, you Twinkie! Some people go to a wilderness area and think it’s gonna be like walking in a man-made park with concession stands and toilets and lots of other people to be annoyed at and complain about. Kinda like I’m doing now.

Then on Tuesday, a contingent of Hillstompers, including Ouzo and me, bagged three more peaks on The List. We bagged Mts. Willey, Field, and Tom in a nine mile, peak-bagging extravaganza. The merry entourage included: Kurk (human), Tim (humanoid), Anna (humid), Brett (humus), me (inhuman), Bruno (canine, shepherd-lab mix), Bula (canine, lab-other stuff mix), and Ouzo (canine, German Shepherd). The extremely steep, slippery ascent up Mt. Willey included ladders up the steeper sections of the rock slide portions of the trail. The dogs all need more ladder training. Bula and Bruno did OK negotiating the ladders until they reached one of them that was missing a rung. Ouzo sucked on the ladders. He’d boldly jump right on them and start scampering madly, hind legs frequently missing the rungs. He fell off one of the ladders, slid down the rock and crashed into a log. I felt my nuts clinch as I scrambled down to grab Ouzo, fearing he might have damaged or broken a shoulder. But he seemed fine and finished the hike, staying with me the whole time. Weather was partly to mostly cloudy with light sprinkles toward the end of the hike. Unlike yesterday, the winds where very calm so the black flies were in a blood frenzy, frantically seeking any crack of skin not slathered in DEET. I got more than a few choice bites, including several on my privates from those little perverse scions of Hell flying right up my hiking shorts going for the family jewels. And I got my first black fly bite ever right in my butt crack WITHOUT dropping my shorts. Thank you, thank you.

These are physically intense hikes that take all day, including the hour and a half drive time, each way, to and from the trail head. And when I get home, I typically eat a late dinner that Susan saves for me, say hi to the kids while quaffing a couple of beers, and then pass out on the couch with Ouzo while watching Comedy Central. Not much time left over for web-work but I sure appreciate the hell outta Jeff’s and You Hurt My Brain’s excellent help answering posts in the forum!

Today is a down day so I’ll be here at the house doing domestic Dad stuff like antagonizing the kids, bothering the wife, and mutiliating the lawn. The forecast is calling for severe thunderstorms for the next two or three days. Since I probably won’t be hiking, I’ll be on-line dishing out more appliance disinformation in the forum and maybe even adding some new content to my website. The smoking lamp is lit, smoke ’em if you got ’em.

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