Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gallivanting in New England

It’s hard to leave Salt Lake in the fall after the temps have finally dropped to merciful levels so both the Wasatch and the desert loom large for adventure potential, but as Ash likes to say “September and October are good everywhere”.  And few places are as unusually good in the fall as New England.  And with some good friends coming West this fall when we aren’t going to be available I decided to blast out to Vermont and New Hampshire for a qukck tripto connect with Teams Jamieson (Vermont) and Hanlon (NH) to get a nice blast of New England.  

One of the first indications that New England is different came when Amy Jamieson said “it’s been SO dry here; it hasn’t rained for almost a couple of weeks!”  I was in California a few weeks ago when it rained for the first time in 8 months!  Different climes for sure.  But the lack of rain was ok for me, since a good chunk of our weekend’s activities were to be mountain biking, and adding water to the slick leaves on top of slick rocks that make up most of the slow, technical mtb trails there (roots make up the other part!) makes the riding there that much more challenging (they actually hit the trails with super-charged leaf blowers during dry spells!). 

Jon and Amy were gracious enough to take the day off from work and show us their go-to trails around the ridiculously quaint and picturesque Waitsfield, Vermont. 
Amy in dappled light
John riding the leaf carpet
Given'er up one of the zillions of small, steep hills

Greg had seen this picture of Miley Cyrus discreetly covering her nipples in public.....
So he made sure to do the same with his bib shorts!  
This guy is a buddy of Jon's who was doing some trail work to make it more awesome; it's a lot of work there!
One needs to be aware of the lines put in to carry sap (syrup) from the maple trees down the hills to the Sugar Shacks.  The maple groves are called Sugarbushes
I thought this was a chocolate mint energy bar, but it was actually the scrumptious Chocolate Mold!  Jon was ready to mow it regardless.  
leaf "Peak" is a much-discussed topic each fall, but if this view from Casa Jamieson gets better I can't believe it!  
Greg and I blasted down to nearby New Hampshire for more shenanigans near their rambling place above the Connecticut river.  Adjacent to the venerable Dartmouth skiway is a fairly recently-developed sport climbing crag that Greg has been apparently going to daily, so my visit was no exception.  We knew that the forecast called for some rain, so we got an early start and were happy to get in a few routes before indeed it started to sprinkle.  Trying to gauge how much time we had was tricky, and at one point Greg looked down at me as I was blinking into the rain and asked "Have you done much rock climbing in the rain?!"   It pretty much turned to grease, but at least greasy bike riding was mildly more viable than greasy climbing: 

We had to stop by a creek that "goes" with good rain.  Greg on a handmade bridge over what he claims is an exciting rapid:
Just add water!
In New England you don't just hang out outside in the summer; you need porches/cabins/decks that are enclosed due to the bugs.  

The stone walls in New England were built sometime around the forming of the republic, and any trail that breaches the walls "must" be done through a natural breach; ie no dismantling of the walls for the trails.  So the trails are built accordingly.  
The next day dawned with improving weather, so after the weekly run to the dump:
The Lyme dump has lots of good stuff to dive for
We headed for this place:
I think this was East Podunk.  West Podunk the West. 
 For a psychocross ride, which New England seems to have plenty of.
No motorized stuff!  
Team Hanlon on their matching 'cross bikes in the leaves....
and on the roads
Then we headed for the airfield.  Greg took a yen to hang gliding long ago, and a few years ago got introduced to gliders, which is now his passion.  They are pretty rad little contraptions:
That's a super fast golf cart that speeds down the runway for liftoff!
Just kidding.  They actually get towed up to 2-4 thousand feet by a Cessna where the umbilical cord is pulled and that little winged kayak just soars about.  The airfield has a tandem, and while of course like all tandem crafts the thing handles like a pig relative to the solo rockets, it didn't matter to this joey:
And soon enough we were getting peak leafing viewing from high above:
We were using Porno Dan as our probe to find lift
At one point Dan came over the radio and said "I think I'm going to take one over the top" and I watched agape as he nosed down towards the ground in a steep dive, abruptly pulled up, up up....and then over, in a full loop.  No pics; I had to take that in en toto.  Pretty cool.  

As I waited for Greg I nosed around the airfield's wacky "museum" where the caretaker has a crazy array of weird stuff:
a ski tree

a collection of old barber chairs and sewing machines
some wacky cars

the most ridiculous beer bottle collection ever
Balloon cockpits
and what museum is complete without a collection of typewriters and ancient computers?  
The next adventure was the mighty Pemi loop:  a 31 mile loop hike over pretty technical terrain with about 9500 feet of vertical and 8-10 summits in the White Mountains.  We hit the trail at dawn marching fairly hard on the initial flat bit:

And after a bit got up out of the green tunnel to get a look at our route.
  We were heading for that far ridge, which seemed like a longgg ways away!  
But we chugged along, over peaks and ridges:

and the ridge got a little closer  
The trail was really technical, rooty, and rocky.  Pretty slow going.  
The fastest known time on this loop is somewhere around 6.5 hours, and I must say I'm quite impressed by that.  It seems so rocky and slow to me that it's hard to imagine running much of it very fast, and if so there's a high likelihood of going down.  I realized that navigating eastern technical trail is a learned skill for sure.
Some super cool mountain guys who can't be bothered to smile.   
Greg pointing out yet again some far ridge that apparently we are going to traverse
More ridge running, starting the final, long descent
Back down in the green tunnel we finally were able to do a bit of running along the old rail bed (where Greg actually crashed shortly after I took this!)
The gratuitous photo of the Big Scenic Overlook of the Pemi Loop
Overall a super cool weekend with great friends in a fun part of the world.  The only shortcoming was that I didn't bring home any syrup (telling the TSA that it's NOT a gallon of syrup in my carry on!) but I was able to tote home a few points of Vermont Cheddar. 

Thanks again to Teams Jamieson and Hanlon for being such stellar hosts.   

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