hiking in the white mountains

I’m baaaaack!  Or at least, back from New England-ish.  I spent the last week-ish up in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine on a little getaway from the city.  Originally I took a week off from work with no real plans in what to do, but I found a travel buddy in James (formerly known at the Rocket Scientist, now known as Doctor Rocket Scientist, as he finished up his PhD and is now all fancy pants…or something like that).  Since he’s done with grad school, I figured he had some time to travel.  I suggested places like Colorado or Spain…and he said he wanted to go camping and hiking in Vermont.

So we did.  Or at least that’s what I thought the plan was until he told me that the camping/hiking portion was actually in New Hampshire and that we would canoe to Maine before spending a few nights in a hotel in Burlington.  Apparently I should have paid more attention to the itinerary he made, but Burlington was my territory.  Oops.

But it was fabulous, and I’m not as terrible of a hiker/camper as I thought I would be.  Since pictures are worth more than my words (you clearly don’t read this because I’m a wizard with words), I present to you the hiking/camping portion of our trip mainly in picture form.  Also because the pictures are prettier than I am after eight miles of hiking.



Okay, I lied.  The first part of our trip was to the Harpoon Brewery in Vermont.  Harpoon makes my favorite beer, and I visited the Boston brewery when I was up in Boston for the marathon.  The one in Vermont has a beer garden attached to it, so we sat outside in the middle-of-nowhere Vermont, drank some Harpoon, ate some burgers, and slept at an over-priced Super 8.  Ah, living the life.

P1030278 Gatsby enjoying my favorite brew EVER.

to the white mountains

P1030291 Gatsby at the wheel to New Hampshire.

I quickly learned that we wouldn’t be hiking/camping in Vermont, but instead in New Hampshire at Franconia Notch.  James had all the camping gear, so I really just was there to provide entertainment and read the instructions on how to put together the tent.

Our first day of hiking involved about eight miles of trails which turned out to be “harder than I thought they would be” per James.  We carried our backpacks, sandwiches, water, and emergency fruit snacks with us and set out for some amazing views.

P1030298 His shirt says, “Trust me, I’m a doctor.”  His face says otherwise.

We hiked some fairly easy, yet rocky trails, and soon enough we reached Lonesome Lake, where we had lunch. 

P1030309 Pretty, don’t you think?

We moved on to more intense trails which involved a fair amount of climbing.  Some of it was on the Appalachian Trail, and we even reached a cabin and some platforms where crazy people who hike the entire trail can stay dry on their adventure.  We, however, had plans to make it back to the campsite at night.  We then made it to another pond, which was pretty and a good time to relax and take some pictures.  Win.

IMG_0952 Welcome to the great outdoors!

IMG_0956 I hiked the entire way with an elephant on my back.  TAKE THAT.

More hiking ensued, and just eventually James captured the moments of me climbing down some rocks.  Luckily I only fell once on the trail, although it did involve me ripping some skin off my knee and getting some impressive bruises.  So much for my modeling career…

IMG_0930 For once in my life, it looks like I have leg muscle.

IMG_0931 Holding on for dear life, don’t mind me.

Along the way, there were some cool waterfalls:


And some trees that somehow manage to grow out of a rock:

P1030310 Impressive.

We made it back to the campsite, where I learned that it was more like “baby camping” versus “real camping” and people who say they like ‘camping” usually mean that they like sleeping in a tent next to their car with working bathrooms nearby.  Forever changed my view of people…but the showers were nice.

I survived the night with only one vivid dream of James telling me that “someone was walking around outside our tent last night.”  I asked him the next day if he really said that, and apparently I’m just really good at dreaming while sleeping in a tent.  Excellent.

my wife would never do this”

Hiking, day two, was a little more intense than day one.  As in, I didn’t look at the trail ratings until we got back, and this one was rated “strenuous.”  Or “hard.”  I don’t remember, but both were adequate descriptions.  It involved an almost 3600 foot climb to the top of Mount Lafayette, which was much less “hiking” and much more “attempting to climb rocks that looks like stairs, but required me to be on my hands and knees.”

Away we went, with our first stop seeming pretty harmless at the waterfall.

IMG_0999 Not sure what is actually going on here…

Then…we climbed a lot.

P1030367 It was pretty!  And rocky…

P1030370 Where are we??

We reached the top of the first mountain, which gave us a nice view of where we were headed.  It involved walking along the ridge of the mountains (on a trail), and I only freaked out about tumbling down the side of the mountain a few times.  Oops.

P1030375 We made it!  To the first part…

IMG_1022 Climbing to the top!

We finally made it to the top of Mount Lafayette at 5260 feet.  A group of five men where at the top, and they asked us to take their picture, saying that they got permission from all of their wives to hike together, so they needed proof that they made it to the top.  They then looked at me and commented, “My wife would never do this!”  Win.


P1030388 We made it!!

IMG_1031 On the top of a mountain…

P1030387 The trail where we came from.

IMG_1038 Jump!

IMG_1044 Reading the marker with my little guy.

After making it to the top, we climbed down another path back to camp.  It was a little longer and therefore less steep, which was nice.  More dirt trails rather than rocks.  I like it.  Also, I’m pretty sure I commented more than once, “But why aren’t the WHITE Mountains WHITE?  I do not understand.”  James certainly is patient, haha.

P1030390 Narrow dirt trails!

P1030395 Still super green!

We made it back down to our campsite, which was very welcome after a long, almost eight hour climb.  I thought we were moving at a pretty decent pace, but apparently climbing mountains is hard…especially with an elephant on your back.  :)


So, not too sound too….suburban/urban….camping made me a little nervous.  In Girl Scouts, we had camped in platform tents before, but that was about it.  We weren’t even allowed to sleep in a tent in my backyard when I was little, so I had no idea what this going to be like.  I pictured camping on sticks and carrying our food with us while we were hiking.

Fact:  I was wrong.  Very, very wrong.  We camped at a site with about seventy “campsites,” which is where you pull your car up next to a cleared area, complete with a picnic table and fire pit.  Water was nearby.  You could buy firewood at the camp store.  Working toilets.  Five minute showers for $1.  Hence why I call it “baby camping.”  Everything you need is still right there!   But it was still fun. and I was only convinced once or twice that someone was going to murder us in the night.

P1030409 The campsite.

P1030404 We grilled some corn.  Gatsby watched.

P1030406Gatsby drank some of James’s beer.

 P1030407 Caught red-trunked!

P1030423 Gatsby making some s’mores!

So all in all…a fun camping experience.  The worst part was the instant coffee that James tried to make that morning…I say that I’ll drink any coffee with caffeine, but that was pretty bad.  I opted for large amounts of tea instead.  You don’t want to be around me when caffeine withdrawal hits!

I highly recommend Franconia Notch if you’re in the mood to get away for awhile…we didn’t have cell phone service, so there was no twitter or emailing or anything, and I’ll admit that it was nice to not even have the temptation to tweet about the fact that I almost fell down the side of a mountain…haha.

Stay tuned for part II, which involved camping on a beach!

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  1. says

    That sounds like SUCH an amazing adventure! I’m jealous. Glad you had a good, nay great, time!

  2. says

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the hiking in NH! So much that we went back two summers in a row (the second year we hit the Franconia region. The first year we were on the other side of NH and hiked through Tuckerman Ravine. Once we got to the shelter, we decided that it was such a beautiful day, we should keep going to Mt. Washington because it was ‘only’ another 1.5 miles away. Incredibly stupid since we weren’t dressed appropriately, but absolutely BEAUTIFUL and best experience ever. Of course, once we got to the summit we couldn’t see anything because it was IN THE CLOUDS. And I was too cheap to pay for the shuttle bus back to the base….so with shaky legs I probably fell 5 times towards the end. But THE BEST EXPERIENCE EVER (ok-plus marathoning). And of course the celebratory beer that night was pretty sweet. Looks like you had a great time!

  3. says

    you are so adventurous!! that looks AMAZING and I want to be your hiking buddy. though camping scares me because it involves bugs and no showers. Also, um, you and James are adorable. Just saying…

  4. Lauren says

    The White Mountains are awesome to hike! Looks like great hiking weather too. I hiked Mt Washington a few years ago, and we got to the top and saw runners running up the road to the top. There’s a road race on the driving road up – that would be one long climb.

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