Elephant Butte Lake

Elephant Butte Lake
Elephant Butte Lake

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hiking Mt. Katahdin, Mt. Washington and Mt. Mansfield...partly

We've been traveling through Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont with our friends Steve and Debbie from Down the Road and they have been fulfilling a goal of hiking to the highest peak in each state. We decided while traveling together we would attempt the hikes with them.

Well, to start off we didn't do our homework on Mt. Katahdin as to getting to the trailhead. We found out at the Visitor's Center that we could not drive our Dually trucks up the road to the trailhead due to our width. We are too wide for opposing traffic to pass us on the road. Because we had not researched that aspect until just the day before the hike we were not able to check into shuttles that might be available to take us there. That left us with choosing a different option for a hike.

We chose the Cranberry Pond trail just inside the outer gate since we were not allowed to go any further. The weather was cool and cloudy so we had long sleeves and all but Steve wore pants(he had shorts on). Anyway, it was a good thing we did because as we got out of the truck to head to the trailhead we saw a family exit the trail with mosquito netting on over their faces and lots of clothing.

They told us the mosquitos were terrible and to be careful. Good thing we brought mosquito repellent too. We headed back to the truck and really sprayed down good. We got out gear on and out we went.

Sure enough right away the mosquitos began to swarm around us. Happy to say the repellent did work very well and we only got a few bites on our hands where we hadn't sprayed any repellent.

The trail was fairly wide and the ground was very boggy feeling with lots of moss and ferns around us. As we hiked the trail we could only stop for a moment to take photos before the swarm would force us to keep moving. Here are a few photos of the trail.






Interesting terrain with wonder views of Cranberry Pond. If it weren't for the mosquitos the hike would have been more fun. The good part was hiking with friends. 




That ended our hiking opportunity in Maine with us all leaving the next day as we continued our travels into New Hampshire. New Hampshire is a beautiful state and tons of hiking trails too. 

We again were looking at the highest peak in NH which is Mt. Washington. We started researching the mountain and found out that to get to the peak it is considered a challenging, strenuous hike up to 6,288 feet above sea level. Not for those who are not in the most tip top shape. In addition the peak has winds of up to 50 mph and the highest records winds there were clocked at 232 mph. Also it cost about $29 for the vehicle and driver plus additional $9 for each adult passenger to drive your own vehicle to the summit and we would be prohibited by the width of our trucks. 

We drove to the base where the visitors center is on the Mount Washington Auto Road and to take a shuttle the 8 miles to the top instead of putting ourselves through a grueling hike. The shuttle cost was $36 per person adult and $31 per person senior. So the cost was a wash even if we could have driven our own vehicles. The shuttle is a guided 2 hour tour round trip. They also have a cog rail train but that takes much longer to get up to the top and the shuttle was only 30 minutes. The temps at the base were in the 70's and the forecast at the summit was 45 degrees and 40-50 mph winds. 

After checking in we had to wait for the shuttle so we went through the museum next to the visitors center. Quite a history related to methods of travel to the summit over the last 100 years. 



Getting to the summit by carriage and horse took about 4 hours each way. Over the years with technology and introduction of the auto things changed rapidly. 





A volunteer at the museum gave us a wonderful presentation and fact related to the history of Mt. Washington. 

Then the shuttle came and we boarded the van. The van is geared very low with oversized brakes to handle the extreme incline and decline to and from the summit. 

The drive ups gave us fantastic views of the surrounding landscape. 

Ski trails across the valley

Once at the top we really felt the difference in temperature and wind. 

Steve and Debbie at the summit

Glenda about to take off

Had to turn the hat around and hold on tight

There were some areas where it was almost impossible to stand up against the wind and the wind chill was ferocious. We didn't stay outside too long before heading to the summit visitors center and gift shop to warm up.

My phone petered out after a few photos so I didn't get all I wanted. We had a great time and a much easier time of getting to the summit than trying to hike it. Steve and Debbie accomplished their goal.

Weather Observatory

Weather equipment




The Historic Tip Top House is located adjacent to the geological summit. It was renovated in 1986 to simulate its first construction with period furnishings. In 1853, the Tip Top House was the second stone house built on the summit. All materials were hauled nine miles on horses over rough trails from Randolph, N.H. Originally it was built as a competing hotel, but eventually was combined with the other as a dining room, barroom and parlor.

The shuttle gives you about an hour to explore the summit and that was plenty of time to get photos and experience the weather at the top. Lots of people at the top and many were hikers and backpackers who braved the elements. Very interesting place to experience.

Our next peak was in Vermont near the town of Stowe. Lots of touristy things to do here. More on those things in another post. Teaser....Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, Cabot Cheese and Breweries.

Ok, we struck out on our first two attempts to hike to the peaks in Maine and New Hampshire so Debbie was not going to let another attempt at a peak pass her by in Vermont. Let me preface this hike....This is an 8 mile round trip challenging, strenuous slogging hike to the peak of Mount Mansfield. Glenda typically does not do hikes over 2-3 hours and 2-3 miles. However Debbie is very persuasive and Glenda decided to attempt the hike.

We drove to the Underhill State Park to get to the trailhead for the Sunset Ridge trail then after paying the entrance fee we had to hike up a road for a mile to get to the actual trailhead. Now we're talking all of this a constant uphill. So far so good. Now we get on the trail and continue the uphill climb.

 

This trail involves some climbing over boulders and slick rocks along with changing landscape from trees to smaller trees to no trees. In other words we climbed up above the tree line.






On and on we went with Glenda getting more and more hesitate about continuing. My wife is very strong and doesn't like to hold others back so she continued with the hike until we got to the last 5-10 minutes from the top. She was done. Glenda decided the peak for her was not necessary. I must say that we were ALL beginning to feel some of that too.   Glenda found a place out of the wind and waited for the three of us to make to the summit, get some nourishment and return. 

Some views from the top 





We found the geological marker at the top and gave it a good rub for good luck along with a great selfie.

I wish Glenda could have experienced the views but I also understand her feelings at that point where she decided to head back. I'm so happy and proud of her for going well beyond her comfort level in hiking. She still got some wonderful views above the tree line and stretched herself amazingly. 

Now the hike back down. We all had our issues with our legs and knees as we descended the peak. Tired and aching we persevered the jolts from the downward terrain. Finally after what seemed forever we made it back to the trailhead and followed the one mile road back to the parking lot. 

We got into the truck and it was very quiet at first....four exhausted hikers feeling accomplished and ready for some food. Our next stop was the Sunset Grille and Taproom. Rustic motif, nice wait staff and very good food. Debbie had a steak to celebrate. They even brought it out on a hot stone so she could cook it to her exact doneness.  One tough hiker. 

We may not have been able to hike all the peaks in those states but we sure had a great time trying. Sharing experiences like these with friends is so rewarding and exactly what our lifestyle is all about. 

So much more to post about as we traveled through NH, VT and NY. That will have to wait. 

Thanks for following along. 



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Busy in Maine, Visit to Canada and Lobster with friends

As I said as I ended my last post. We made it to Timberland Acres in Ellsworth, ME and we did meet up with our friends Steve and Debbie at Down the Road. Check out Debbie's blog. She does a great job of posting details and photos of their travels.

Well we got settled in our site and got together with Steve and Debbie who had already checked in. They had to stay on a site overnight before moving to a site next to us. Once we got our hellos out of the way we decided to get some lobster ASAP. We found a nice lobster pound near the Trenton Bridge.






Everyone chose a nice big lobster with all the fix'ns like corn on the cob and cole slaw. We fully enjoyed our first real lobster dinner. 


Steve, of course, got the BIGGEST one. They were meaty, tasty and delicious. This is the way to enjoy lobster. 

After a big lobster dinner we took a drive and found an ice cream shop and had some delicious hand dipped ice cream. 

We took a drive through Acadia NP the next day and saw the wonder of the Maine coast experience
These views below are from Cadillac Mountain. . 






These are photos around the visitors center and along the coast. Such beautiful landscape and worth the trip. 


The photo opportunities were endless and very scenic. You have to have your photo taken with a background like this. 

We drove around the Park Loop Rd and stopped at several places for photos like Thunder Hole. 


At the time we were there, there wasn't much thunder. But when the tide is coming in and the waves are crashing the narrow inlet you see above, it allows the waves to surge very high and if you're standing on the ledge next to it you will certainly get a watery surprise. 

So many places to stop and so many places to see. Here are a few photos of different areas we visited on our auto tour that day. 



Debbie and Hurley


Steve contemplating his life like the seas with ebbs and flows


What a fun day and the girls were feeling a little frisky too. 

Of course during our stay in Ellsworth, ME we did some usual things like laundry and grocery shopping but overall we tried to do some touristy things too.

We had to contend with some weather while there so we took a drive one rainy day to Bangor to see a movie and get a bite to eat. While Glenda nd I were in Bangor we found a nice little brewpub called Mason's so we took Steve and Debbie there for some great food and brew. Fun was had by all. We even noticed a couple of geocaches nearby so we went looking for them. Along with that we saw a little ice cream place and had some dessert.



The weather cleared the next day and Debbie had seen an ad for a nearby Lobster Festival in Rockland, ME. Well we couldn't pass that up so off we went to get some more lobster and mingle with the locals.


Steve and I started with a lobster roll and the girls had shrimp and scallops. After we had our lobster roll we noticed another tent that had steamed lobster dinners for a about the same price we paid for just a lobster roll. Need to read the signs before jumping into a quick decision. 

One of the attractions at the lobster fest was a lobster crate running event. Kids of all ages and sizes signed up to race across a string of lobster crates in the harbor. Someone would keep count of how many crates the kids were able to run across until they fell into the water. Most kids were only able to run across a few however there were a few that ran across all the crates several times. There were 50 crates strung together from one dock to the next. If you made it to the other side you had to run back and forth until you fell in. 



There was quite a crowd of folks watching and cheering on the kids. I'm sure the water was a little chilly and they had guys in dinghies along the course to get the kids out of the water as quickly as possible. 

We walked around the festival grounds and even found a geocache there too. We samples other types of festival food fare and a couple other photo opportunities. 




After that day of exploring we weren't finished yet. The next day we decided we needed to check out a small portion of New Brunswick on the Maine/Canada border. We drove to Lubec, ME that claims to be the most eastern town in the USA. They had a nice little brewery and after a little libation we got a good recommendation for something to eat at Frank's Dockside Restaurant. Nice view on the patio.



Frank's

Our view at lunch

After lunch we drove over the bridge connecting Lubec to New Brunswick. We stopped at the Canadian checkpoint and they asked if we had anything that should not come into Canada like firewood. Well yes we had firewood in the back of Steve's truck. Since you can't take firewood in, we had to turn around and unload the wood in an empty lot in Lubec and go back again. This time they let us in. 

We drove around looking for geocaches and lighthouse's and we found both. This was our first time in Canada and we enjoyed the landscape on the sea. 





The bridge from the US to Canada

Once we got back into the US we finished out day of exploring at the Quaddy Head Light. This is the eastern most point in the US. Not just the eastern most town.



The landscape here is breathtaking and the lighthouse is beautiful. 



What an eventful day. Just the kind of scenery and places we hoped to enjoy on our trip to Maine. 

Now it was time to do some hiking at Acadia NP. We decided to try the Precipice Trail. It's rated as HARD and there are iron wrungs and ladders to scale up the side to the mountain trail. It's a good thing Glenda didn't read the sign prior to starting the hike. 

Enlarge the photo to see the warnings

We're on our way and right off the bat it gets challenging. Climbing up boulders and crossing along the side of the mountain. 




Up we climb

Follow the blue dots




We're getting higher

Ladders


Long way down

Hang on tight

How much farther is it? 

Once we got to the top the views were spectacular. 





Good looking group

The trail back down was less eventful since we took a different trail back(The Orange and Black Trail). Acadia NP is a place I would enjoy coming back to again in the future and it always is more fun with friends.

Found the Geological Marker at the top


The alternate trail down


Of course after a hike like that we had to have some nourishment

It was a wonderful visit to Maine and sharing the experience with Steve and Debbie. This trip to the NE was to be our one time visit to this area of the country but after the experiences we have been having I don't think this will be our last time. We still have New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Pennsylvania coming up. I'm sure I haven't posted all the things we did but this should give you a good idea. Here are a few random photos I haven't shared yet.







The Maine coast is so beautiful with so many things to do. I can see why folks continue to return year after year. We did take a drive through Bat Harbor while in the area too. Unfortunately we didn't get to explore much due to the size of our truck, parking limits and overcrowding of people. Best left for another visit at another time with a different vehicle. :-)

We've moved on from the Maine coast and headed to NH and into VT. Equally beautiful states with tons of things to see and do. More on that in another post. Thanks for following along.

I feel that my posts can not do justice to our visit there. A camera can not capture the sights the way we saw them with our eyes. We're so happy we were able to share this time with our good friends Steve and Debbie. Thanks for following along. 

PS.....Very disappointed we never got to see a moose either.