Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fantastic Mid-week Trek to Tuckerman Ravine

How do you describe a perfect day for Dundee, Dick and I to hike to Tuckerman Ravine. In two hours, we made the three-mile uphill trip via Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Hermit Lake. The summer-like day was emphasized by Dick and I wearing t-shirts and shorts (we did have warm clothes in our backpacks for any change in weather.)

Tuckerman Ravine (, isolated on the east side of Mt. Washington in the White Mountain National Forest, is famous for its daredevil spring skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering, ice climbing and hiking. Moreover, Tuckerman’s isolation and its dangerous conditions and terrain can be dangerous – and even fatal.

If you are thinking of skiing Tuckerman, you should be an expert skier in good physical condition. The headwall at Tuckerman is between 45-55 degrees and the vertical drop is approximately 1200 ft. The only way to the top is by climbing the headwall. (

The hike started on a dry and bare rocky Tuckerman Ravine Trail. As we ascended to the middle section, we encountered snowmelt small streams crossing the trail, and we gingerly traversed slippery ice. The upper part of the trail was snow covered, and we could hear and see water flowing underneath our feet.

Fellow outdoor enthusiasts, carrying their downhill and telemark skis, boots and gear, passed us. Other hikers, like us, are there for the thrill of the surreal scene of this magnificent beautiful ravine with a reputation for beauty, avalanche danger, and untold climbing challenges.

Shared Thoughts:

• A trek to Tuckerman’s is a perfect place to bond with your significant other, family, and friends. My wife Cathy and I have made this trek many times, and years ago, my son Tim and I encountered a sudden storm that nearly put an end to our lives. Memories of love, emotion, and bonding are part of my Tuckerman experience.
• 10:30 am temperature 82 degrees AMC’s Pinkham Hut, 12:30 pm temperature 68 at base of Ravine.
• We were aware of an air and ground search for a 17-year-old hiker Eagle Scout who had been missing in this area since Saturday. At around noon we heard from a hiker the scout was found safe and in good condition.
• Camaraderie of all skiers was evident throughout the hike as we shared “where are you from”, “conditions of your ski”, “which side of the ravine did you ski?”, and “Have you heard if they found the scout?”
• We wished a ten-year-old boy “happy birthday” after we learned he and his dad skied Hillman's Highway trail, the longest run in Tuckerman.
• We drank water every ten minutes to be sure we did not get de-hydrated. My backpack was filled with a quart of water, two peanut butter jelly sandwiches, compass, map, duct tape, ace bandage, contractor trash bags for an emergency overnight, warm clothes, gaiters, winter hat, and gloves. We all wore hiking boots (sneakers would nearly insure a sprained ankle and wet feet).
• After lunch at the caretaker hut, we started up the right section of the Ravine, but stopped because of rocks covered with slippery ice and brewing dark storm clouds moving swiftly over the headwall. Since storms come up quickly in this area, we did not hesitate to leave when we saw the threatening conditions.
• Thinking of going to Tuckerman? Great, but before you go be prepared with a review of the HikeSafe program In 2003, the N.H. Fish and Game Department and the White Mountain National Forest partnered up to create a mountain safety education program called "hikeSafe." A large component of the program is the Hiker Responsibility Code. The code applies to all hikers, from beginners on a short hike to experienced outdoor enthusiasts embarking on an expedition. Please practice the elements of the code and help the hikeSafe program spread by sharing the code with fellow trekkers. This will help increase responsibility and decrease the need for Search and Rescue efforts.

Dick, Dundee and I will never have to say, “We wish we had hiked to Tuckerman to watch the skiers and enjoy Tuck's majestic wilderness and mountain scenery.”

A Summer Trek and Paddle in the Great North Woods of New Hampshire
Later in July, I returned to the Tuckerman area.  My nephew Braden, and grandson Carson, joined my two sons, brother-in-law, two father-son friends and I on a four-day trek enjoying the Great North Woods of New Hampshire.  Please view the video to see this beautiful northern New England area as we hiked Pinkham Notch, Tuckerman Ravine and  Mt Washington, paddled Lake Umbagog and the Androscoggin and Magalloway rivers, hiked to the 4th Connecticut Lake, and tented at Mollidgewock State Park in Errol, NH.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Boston Marathon Day April 20, 2009

My friends Ryan and Kevin were running the Boston. Temperature was 45 degrees at race time. Over twenty-six thousand runners. I parked in the EMC lot and took the marathon bus to the center of Hopkinton. I walked around Athlete’s Village, but could not find either friend.

I kept in cell phone contact with my son Shaun, and friend John Kerrigan – later they would text message me Ryan and Kevin's locations and times on the course.

Ryan wore bib 1862, and his coral was right behind the elite runners. I went to the 1000-1999 coral to search for Ryan. It was ten minutes before the start, so every 30 seconds I yelled ‘Kerrigan!’ I was determined to find Ryan. Ryan heard me calling his name – and we were both excited to see each other.

Thirteen thousand runners started at 10 am. I now had to find Kevin for the 10:30 am start. It was surreal seeing runners of all shapes dressed in assorted attire. Everyone was nervous, and the smell of liniment and old sweaty clothes filled the air. It was fascinating watching the next 13K runners ready for the second wave.

I had a thought that I should be running! It lasted less than a nanosecond, as I realized the training and effort all these athletes did to get to this starting line. I ran Boston three times – and I knew the pain they were about to endure – especially the back of the packers when in three plus hours they face heartbreak hill with cramps and exhaustion. Moreover, they still have an hour to go before they finish.

The public address system calls out the 10:30 am start – and nobody moves at hte back of the corals! Yup, it will take nearly ten minutes before Kevin crosses the starting line. No matter, as his microchip will give him an accurate time.
I yell three bits of advice to Kevin 1) Drink lots of water, 2) It is OK to pee in your pants, 3) Enjoy the run!!

I take the athlete bus back to the parking area, pick up my car, call John Kerrigan for his location at the 20 mile mark, check my map, set my GPS and I am off to the corner of Commonwealth Ave and Sumner Street where John is standing.

My twenty plus mile trip down the Mass Pike is without traffic, I get off at Center Street Exit 17 in Newton, pull off the side of the road, and set my GPS to the 536 Sumner Street address John gave me. I was only 1.5 miles away. I found Sumner Street, and a side street to squeeze my Jeep in with dozens of other illegally parked cars. No doubt, there were too many cars to tag or tow!
Ten minutes after exiting from the Pike, I was standing next to John at the twenty-mile mark of the course. John’s son-in-law had text messaged John that Ryan would be reaching our area within the next ten minutes.

We see Ryan! His six plus minute pace looks smooth - he smiles as he sees us, and I fumble my camera! Gosh!! I manage only one good video – of him running away from us.

John leaves and heads to the finish to greet Ryan.

Bill Roger runs by me – I wish I had my camera ready. He won the Boston in two of the years I ran Boston. What a great athlete and representative of the Boston Marathon.

I now await Kevin. I had set my watch when Kevin started to run at Hopkinson, and my best guess was he would do a nine-minute pace.

It was about 1:30 pm, and the temperature was beginning to drop. It was getting windy. I zipped up both my sweater and Jacket. I was thinking Kevin is getting dehydrated, and when he reaches me, will be cold and shivering. I will offer him my sweater and windbreaker. I watch the bib numbers of the runners. Kevin’s bib is 23369. The numbers passing me have not yet started in the 20,000.

It is now close to 3:25 on my watch and by my calculation, Kevin should be here. Did I miss him? I was sure he was going to finish, but how long should I wait here before I leave? I called Shaun, and his last checkpoint for Kevin was 30K (18 miles).

I see Kevin!! I start yelling and waving for him to see me. I have his water and orange ready. He says his stomach has been bothering him for some time – and he does not want anything. I walk with him listening to his thoughts about “I never knew it would hurt this much.” What do I say to him to encourage him in a quest he started six months ago. Since I had been in his position three times, I knew that plain words were not enough. Out of my mouth came “You are at the twenty mile point. You are now in a 10K race.”

He picked up his running pace and away he went!

I headed home to watch the marathon that I had recorded on my DVD.
Ryan finished in 2: 48.26. Kevin finished in 4:44:08. Great accomplishments for two highly trained athletes!

I will never have to say, “I wish I had been at the Boston to root and support Ryan and Kevin”

Friday, April 17, 2009

Planning a Paddle & Hike to Connecticut Lakes & Lake Francis

I am looking for suggestions for areas of hiking and paddling for a trip with John, Dundee, and Dick in mid June 2009. Here is what we have planned so far:

  • Monday drive and camp at Lake Francis State Park and paddle the lake as light permits. The Park is our camp area for three nights

  • Tuesday hike 4th Connecticut Lake, and paddle Lake Francis

  • Wednesday paddle 3rd and 2nd Connecticut Lakes (can we paddle on both lakes without needing to put canoes/kayaks on cars to get from one lake to the other?)

  • Thursday paddle 1st Connecticut Lake (again, is there a paddle connection between lst and 2nd lake. Drive back to Manchester area in afternoon.

We heard the Buck Rub Pub is a great place to quench our thirst and have breakfast/diner. Comment?

I used Google Earth and with Google search found the site with a great narrative of an earlier trip by a fellow outdoor enthuiast. I do believe we will be following his earlier trek.

Why are we doing this? 1. To say we have straddled the Connecticut River at its 4th Connecticut Lake headwaters outlet. 2. See many moose. 4. Enjoy my fellow trekers and The Great North Woods. 4. Because we never want to say, "I wish I had paddled the Connecticut Lakes and Lake Francis."

If you have been there before I would love to hear your suggestions, comments, and web links to look at to get further psyched.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stocking Salmon for NH Fish and Game

Never say, "I wish I had learned about how salmon are stocked in New Hampshire waters". I saw an article in the New Hampshire Sunday News on the NH Fish and Game asking for volunteers to stock salmon fry in the waters of NH.

I asked my friends George and Dundee to join me, and we spent the most interesting day learning and stocking salmon fry. See the below slide show to this post.