Sunday, January 08, 2006

5260 feet

I was told that crampons are a cure for restless women. Possessing this and other symptoms, I turned to the mountains for relief. Myself and a few friends embarked on a hike up Mt. Lafayette, my favorite peak in the Whites, and one I have ascended several times, but never in the winter!

We couldn't have hoped for a more beautiful day! Parking at the tram lot at Canon Mtn, the thermometer read 14 degrees F. Sunlight glistened off ice crystals, making the fresh snowfall a sparkling blanket under the crystal blue sky. We assembled our gear: crampons, packs, clothes, ice axes, food, and water, then headed for the trailhead.

Immersed in the enrapturing beauty of frozen wildnerness, momentary pauses imposed shocking silence. We could hear our own heatbeats, breath, and no more.

We ascended the Greenleaf Trail, pausing outside the closed hut to put on our crampons and chew a few bites of frozen chocolate. After the hut, the trail dipped through a snow-covered bog and winded up through scrub before opening to snow-covered rock face for the final steep and exposed ascent to the summit. Unsheltered from the brutal wind, we dug our crampons in for traction and shielded our faces to the brutal gusts.
The breathtaking summit view was worth every step. Clear skies provided incredible visibility from what for us, at that moment, was the top of the world. Mount Washington hardly even looked much taller from this distance. (See Charlie with Mt. Washington in the background to his right?) I imagine we could have seen all the way to the ocean were there not so many mountains in the way.

The waxing gibbous moon followed us throughout our hike, another snow white contrast in the sky.

Wow. I am hooked. I enjoyed this hike so much and I can't wait for the upcoming long weekend! I'll get to hike, xc ski, and maybe even snowboard all in the same weekend!! The world is a playground in the winter.

These were our final steps back to the car. The snow guns fired on Canon behind a sign that reminded me of the training that is about to begin...

1 comment:

cyclingpt said...

hey there kiddo... Just wanted you to know that I think you are the BEST!!! ... Just nn case I haven't told you lately.