Good Times Getting to Carrigain

It was another successful outing with the GBMC. It was something of a reunion – we’ve had some of our members disperse away from Boston lately. Luka flew in from Toronto, and Shawn & Laur drove up from Philly. We also had a new crew member, Alishya from Boston. She isn’t really in the green building field, but she is a doctor, and we know we always want a doctor around!

Here is a link with a bunch of the photos on flickr.

We had an early start, getting up 93 almost to Franconia Notch (see below) and met up in Lincoln at a special restaurant and headed for the Kancamaugus. Half an hour later, we were at the Sawyer River trailhead.

The crew: Corey, Alyshia, Moi, Laur, Shawn and Luka:

Gotta love the Canadian engineer among us, who built his own insulated water bottle apparatus…

The hike in rolls along an old logging railbed for the first three miles. Very pleasant. We talked and talked about all our wonderful projects. And yes, we did walk right past the first turn we needed to make onto Fire Road 85. On my (ancient) map, it was F.R. 86. Why would anyone change the number? I think that is why we did not notice it – we were primed for the other identification label.

This is a little beaver pond that the main trail goes over. You can see the stock of sticks the beavers have assembled, and also the de-barked ones they have already eaten. I am not sure I’d want to eat bark all winter.

Gorgeous countryside!

Once we were on the fire road we caught a glimpse of Carrigain Peak. Something in my mind was saying, we don’t have to go all the way there today…

We did find some interesting stuff on the trail. It was beech nut season. They were tasty. I forgot to cook them in the evening, probably because we’d done 15 miles and I was exhausted. But I have a pocket full of them!

The hike would be about 7 miles to the camp, 6 round trip up to the peak and back, and then the 7 the next morning out. A good jaunt, and the legs feel great.

After our lunch, we marched onward. And we found this at about 3:30pm. Yes, that is Carrigain notch to my left and behind me is Zealand Notch, then above my head: Agiocochook – the big top of Mt. Washington rising above the clouds. It just appeared in time for this photo. We would then march up and up the final 500′ to the high peak of Carrigain, and get above that layer. It was also about 20F colder – down into under 10F. We didn’t last long – all hot from the hike up – but it was certainly special. See below.


Here we have the view to the northwest: the Franconia Range (Lafayette and Lincoln at least) and the peeking peaks of Middle Majesty (okay, that’s what I call South Twin) and Bond. Like islands in a sea I’d never come across before. The pictures don’t do it justice.

This kind of thing never happens. Well, I mean, it’s hard to time it. I felt very lucky to be there. We all felt like we were enchanted.

This is the amazingness. A great group. An amazing view. An incredible natural phenomenon. And the massif of Mt. Washington rising above the cloud layer like a giant space ship from another galaxy…

We did get back down the hill, skipping and sliding in a third the time. We ended up setting up camp in the dark, but it was a fabulous flat spot. Perfect for setting up a fire ring and a few stories.

In the morning, we packed up and got going at about 7am. Luka took a little while to reassemble his gear, and then it was back out the old rail bed back to the Kanc. Great hike out that morning.

It is hard to quite understand the magic here, but the sun was playing with ice crystals on the sapling evergreens and basically created Christmas lights on each one. They were all the colors. We felt like wood elves had enchanted this little area just for us. We spent a while just soaking it in.

And in the end…back to Black Mountain Burger for a great lunch. The Smitty tradition continues. Who can say no, after a good 20+ miles on the icy trail, to a big burger between two grilled cheese sandwiches? Mmmmm! See you next time!

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