Day 269 - August 26th, 22 Miles in 2 Days

I was supposed to camp alone under the stars on the 24th.  That was my plan.  My family and friends thought I was crazy, but I was really looking forward to it.  After my 9+ mile hike in the rain, I came off the mountain and went to my favorite restaurant, The Woodstock Inn, Station and Brewery, for a bison burger (local) and a beer.  It has become a tradition after a hike in the Franconia Notch region to go to the Woodstock Station for a beer and some food.  It never disappoints!!

As I was leaving the restaurant the rain was coming down in sheets.  It was then that I decided I would not camp, but get a room at a hotel instead.  It was a good decision given the weather and the fact that I would be hiking another 11.2 miles the next day.  So I went from camping under the stars to a comfy queen-sized bed and a jacuzzi tub.  Talk about roughing it!

In the morning I was meeting Lee Anne, Lorienne and our new friend Rich to hike two more peaks in the Sandwich Range - Mount Whiteface and Mount Passaconaway.  Hiking solo has its rewards, but hiking with friends is the best!  We were on the trail for eight hours total and there was never a lack of conversation.  It is such a wonderful bonding experience.

Again, all these photos are taken with my silly little camera phone.  I should have brought the D90, but Rich had his D40 and took some great shots.  When he blogs about it I will post the link.  For now, you will have to suffer through mine.  We started up Blueberry Ledge Trail to the summit of Whiteface.  On our way up, Lorienne stopped to explain cloud formation or some other geeky science thing.  I learn so much on my hikes with her!  There were some awesome ledges and rock faces to climb.  It was my favorite part of the hike.  It was at the moment we were climbing a ledge that I announced to everyone my fear of heights.  I guess it isn't so much a fear anymore.  I have pretty much conquered it, but I do get little moments of it every once in a while.  There was a beautiful view at the summit and we sat and enjoyed each others company for longer than usual for us.  It helped that it was such a beautiful day!

Summit of Whiteface overlooking the Lakes Region of NH.  Beautiful!

We followed Rollins Trail to Dicey's Mill Trail and headed up to the summit of Mt. Passaconaway.  It was a very, very steep climb to the top.  Yes, we complained.  I am not going to pretend that we were happy and smiling the whole way up.  It was a tough climb, but we all made it and we were happy when we were at the peak.  After the steep section we found a ledge with a drop off.  I really do not enjoy heights, but I stepped out on the ledge with encouragement from Rich and snapped a photo with my phone. At the peak we met some other hikers and one hiking dog named Bear.  He was so cute.  Rich got a picture of him, so hopefully he will post it on his blog (hint, hint Rich ;) )  Bear is a Pit Bull.  The dog as a breed has a very poor reputation, but Bear was the sweetest dog I have met!  And he hikes.  He is perfect!

The summit of Passaconaway was not as spectacular as Whiteface, but it was decent.

The descent is always the hardest part of the hike.  The steep sections going up are tough and it is exhausting, but there is the reward of a view, or just the fact that you accomplished something, that makes the climb so wonderful.

"Every day you may make progress.  Every step may be fruitful.  Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path.  You know you will never get to the end of the journey, but this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb."  Winston Churchill

Anyway, we complained on the way down too.  We were all pretty tired and it seemed like the path would never end.  I was on mile 21 and my body was still moving.  I was surprised, but proud of myself.  It was a wonderful day.  I bonded with my girlfriends and got to know a lot more about my friend Rich, all of which I liked.  I am looking forward to our next adventure together!

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