Sunday, April 19, 2009

Seven Memorable Hikes

It has been a while since I have written anything in my “surviving seven years series”, memories and things in my life during the seven years since I got diagnosed with cancer. In this post, I will discuss seven memorable hikes, presented in the order that they occurred.

My previous posts in this series are seven amazing experiences, seven great Team in Training memories, and seven cool wildlife experiences.

# 1 – First Post-Cancer Hike. Riprap Hollow, July 2003. Riprap Hollow, reached by way of a 9.6 mile circuit hike on the Appalachian Trail, Riprap Hollow Trail and Wildcat Ridge trail, is one of my favorite spots in Shenandoah National Park. It is a moderately difficult hike, especially when one is recovering from the ravages of chemotherapy. This was my first post-chemo hike, and although tiring, it was just incredible to be alive and hiking again. I saw two black bear cubs, one of which shot 30 feet straight up a tree. I took a cool dip in a beautiful pool in the stream. I slowly hiked uphill for nearly 3 miles on the way out, several young people passing me like I was standing still. My pictures from that day, in a standard film camera, were somehow ruined, but you can see photos from last year’s hike to this wonderful spot here.

Riprap Hollow

# 2 – A Promise Kept. Tumbledown Mountain, Weld, Maine, August 2003. I have written about this hike in detail here, and won’t repeat the story. But I will never forget this day. It fulfilled a promise I made the prior summer while I was so ill – that by the summer of 2003 I would be well enough to hike to the top of Tumbledown Mountain.

With my friends Chip and Amy near the alpine pond on Tumbledown Mountain

# 3 – A Branch Snaps in Grizzly Country. Ptarmigan Falls, Glacier National Park, Montana, September 2005. We had already done a seven mile hike, through prime grizzly country, that morning, on full alert with each step. That afternoon, I took off, alone, on a 5 mile round-trip hike up to Ptarmigan Falls. It was beautiful, hiking along an open ridge with spectacular scenery all around and great views of the massive Ptarmigan Wall straight ahead. I lingered at the falls for a while, then headed back down in late afternoon. Suddenly, the sound of branch being broken just off trail rang out like a pistol shot and I froze in my tracks. Other branches snapped – there was a very large animal very close by and I stood there for several minutes scanning down the slope with naked eye and binoculars. It was the tips of the antlers sticking above the saplings and brush that gave away the animal and its location – a huge bull moose. His antlers reminded me of an Irish elk! My adrenalin level dropped a bit when I discovered it was not a grizzly bear, and I watched him for about 20 minutes before reluctantly hiking the remaining mile or so back to base.

View towards Ptarmigan Wall

Ptarmingan Falls

A huge moose that gave me pause when he snapped a branch

View from the ridge that I hiked along

# 4 – The Mountain Goats’ Realm. Logan Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana, September 2005. Located off the incredibly scenic Going to the Sun Highway, this hike is one of those where the scenery per effort ratio is very high. Lots of scenery for minimal hiking effort. There was lots of wildlife to see, including Columbian ground squirrels, marmots, and mountain goats from near and afar. I put mountain goat pictures on this post so won’t repeat most of them here.

Columbian ground squirrel

An alpine meadow at Logan Pass

Amazing geology in these landscapes

Alpine lake

Bearhat Mountain

Mother and kid

# 5 – That's A Lotta Bull. Cascade Lake, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, September 2005. You ever run into a situation where the biggest impression is a lotta bull? Well, that was this hike. The hike itself was not spectacular, but a lone bull bison was about 100 feet from the trail on the way towards the lake and we gingerly tiptoed past him. As we got about a half mile from the lake, a good sized herd of bison was scattered all about. We decided that discretion was the better part of valor and that hiking through a bison herd might have negative results and we turned back. We watched bull elk bugling from afar and kept our ears and eyes open for grizzly. We were also aware that we would have to slip past the bull again, and were shocked to find that he now stood nearly on the path, right where a little log bridge crossed the stream. We bushwhacked up through the woods to get a couple of hundred feet away from him and then crossed the stream – better wet boots than facing down a large bull bison. He was fine as long as we didn’t invade his space, and we completed the hike with no further adventures.

The hike was through open country for the most part

The bull bison kept getting closer and closer to the trail...

Until he basically blocked it

# 6 – Remembering 40 Years. Mount Washington, White Mountains of New Hampshire, July, 2007. In August 1967 my Dad took my brother Nur and me camping in Vermont and New Hampshire. The highlight of the trip was a hike to the top of Mount Washington, the highest mountain in the Northeastern US. My brother and I decided to do a 40 anniversary hike, and spent three days hiking in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains with my 83 year old friend Dick. We stayed in the famed AMC huts – backpacking in style! We “bagged” five tall peaks on the hike – Pierce, Eisenhower, Franklin, Monroe, and Washington.

View back to Lake of the Clouds

The summit of Mount Washington looms just ahead

My brother and me near sunset on Mt. Monroe

Sunset from Mount Monroe

The moon over Mount Monroe on the hike back to the hut

# 7 – A Beautiful Hike in New England. Bald Mountain, Southern New Hampshire, August, 2008. This hike was on my sister-in-law Martha’s birthday, and she, my brother, and I celebrated by hiking up Bald Mountain. I have fully described the hike here with many photos. A few highlights were watching and hearing a loon – one of my favorite birds – at the start of the hike, the many incredible and vividly colored mushrooms that we saw, the beauty of eating lunch on cliffs overlooking the pond, and having a cool dip in the pond at the end of the hike.

View from Bald Mountain

Honorable mention would be last fall’s hike up Old Rag.


happyone said...

I've enjoyed reading about your hikes. Your pictures beautiful and some breathtaking. You have sure hiked in some fabulous places.
Have a great day Art! :-)

Racn4acure said...

Thanks HappyOne. I enjoyed reminiscing about them. And I feel truly blessed to have been able to do each of these hikes / trips. Enjoy the day!