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Relax, Laugh, Take it in: Waumbek (10/11/21)

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  • Relax, Laugh, Take it in: Waumbek (10/11/21)

    I promised Pokey Moonshine that we would go out to New Hampshire for a hike after we finished up the 46 this past Summer. We came up short on that goal. Rather than fighting to get a parking spot at the Garden, spending a chilly night in a tent and trying to wrap things up... I decided that to a trip to NH for the Indigenous People's Holiday was the right call. I've been incredibly busy with work and other things the past few months and to say "stressed out" would be a bit of an understatement. So, I cashed in a week of vacation time to unwind and booked a room at the Cabot Inn for Sunday night.

    I decided that we would climb Waumbek. I had only been there a few months ago in search of new perspectives and scenery. It delivered. I felt Pokey needed a bit of the same following the past two summers of High Peak hiking.

    Also, rolling with Waumbek saved me some time on researching New Hampshire peaks.

    "Dude, you're gonna love it. There's no mud, no swamps and no bogs," I said, "It's an awesome hike. And, I know we like a good scramble here and there. But, there's none of them either."

    "Really?" Pokey replied.

    "Yup, it's a great hike. You'll love it."

    We arrived in Lancaster just before 1 PM on Sunday (10/10) after taking the NY-VT ferry and driving through scenic Vermont. We took a little stroll along the main strip and grabbed lunch at the Lancaster House of Pizza (Funny Note: They moved from this location to a new spot two days after our visit). I had a cheesesteak and Pokey got a spaghetti dinner. The sandwich was delicious and Pokey was very happy with her meal. We drove to a lookout on Route 2 that offers a wonderful view of the Presidentials. Then, we went to the hotel and checked in. We were both still feeling the effects of a food coma. I flipped on the Packers game and told Pokey she could go outside and ride on the swings which offer an amazing view of the Kilkenny and Pliny Ranges. With 2 minutes left in overtime and Mason Crosby lining up for a field goal... The channel cut out. I was not happy about this. Luckily, moments later I got a notification that confirmed the Packers had won the game.

    After Pokey came back to the room, we went out for a little scenic drive. Kailee was impressed with how much of the Presy's were above treeline. We stopped at a trailhead for Madison (Appalachia) and noticed a sign that indicated Gordon Fall was only a 3/10th mile walk. We decided to check it out. It was a nice and quick roadside hike to a lovely waterfall. I don't know why it's named "Gordon Fall" instead of "Gordon Falls..."
    Hey whatever works!
    It's a lovely site.

    Once back to the car, we drove back to the hotel. We popped in the game room and played every arcade game. Then, we went to the pool room and Pokey swam for 40 minutes. She is a frog and loves swimming! The pool area is cool. The walls are decorated with a massive mural of the local animals, covered bridges and scenery. After a dip, we grabbed a quick (and believe it or not: light) dinner at McDonald's before bed. It was a very busy and fun day. Pokey was digging New Hampshire.

    We awoke Monday morning (10/11) and hit up the continental breakfast. They had a lot of options.


    We grabbed breakfast and I grabbed our lunch as well. Rather than sit in a busy dining area, we brought our food to our room and ate. Then we checked out and headed to the Waumbek trailhead.

    Only a few cars.

    Ah, it's so nice to not worry about parking.

    We stepped off around 10:45 AM. I explained to Pokey that this hike can be broken down into three sections. The first: 1.5 miles straight up an old carriage road. Then, the trail breaks to the left and eases up for the next mile to the summit of Mount Starr King. Finally, an easy stroll on the ridge for the mile between Starr King and Waumbek.

    She will now tell you that I described the hike perfectly.

    Each step took us forward and upwards along the first mile and a half. It was never too steep and we were surrounded by a sea of yellow provided by the dying leaves of maples and yellow birch. We took a few breaks and Pokey complained that her "armpits were sweating. They never sweat."

    "You might wanna get used to that one."

    As we broke towards the left for the second stretch of this hike, the forest immediately changed from Yellow Birch and Maples to White Pine. Along this stretch we noticed an abundance of quartz.

    "That's Milky Quartz," Pokey said, "We learned about it last week."

    Pokey is taking a liking to Science, so I tried discussing relevant things that we would see along the trail.

    "See the layers in this rock?" I'd ask, "They used to jut way up out of the Earth because of continents colliding. These things used to be huge!"

    We arrived at Starr Kings' summit and sat down and enjoyed the view. The Presy's had a cloud over all of their summits except for (I believe) Adams. As Pokey snacked, she noted that it was 12:50 PM.

    Around two hours to have all of the hard work behind us?
    Not bad.

    After a quick break, we hit the third and easiest section of this trail to Waumbek. As mentioned, it follows the ridge and has a really dull knife edge feel to it that I pointed out to Pokey. That is not to say this section in "dull" at all. It's by far the most fun stretch of the hike.

    As we neared Waumbek, I scooted ahead to reach the summit to take a video and greet Pokey at her first New Hampshire 4000'er. She was in high spirits when she arrived at the cairn and sign. We then continued on an extra 50 feet to arrive at Waumbek's viewpoint.

    On a clear day, this spot offers an incredible, up close view of the Presidentials. However, their summits (except for Adams?) were encapsulated in a cloud. But, our overall view of peaks far and wide was fantastic nonetheless. The weather was perfect. We were feeling good. Pokey was really digging the change of scenery... And the colors! They were peak!

    We relaxed and took in every second of it.
    I didn't pay attention to time. There was no need. This Summer didn't work out remotely as planned. Here we are again on a 4000'er. But, now the scenery is something we don't see on the daily. Relax, laugh, chat and refresh. Take it in.

    There were two moments when Mount Washington peaked through the undercast clouds and we both reached to take some pictures.

    It was dang near perfect. The only thing missing was the Gray Jays! Waumbek's Gray Jays are legendary. They live near the summit year round and are completely unfazed by the presence of people. They evidently view you as neither a threat or the source of food that they're eating out of your hand! I had told Pokey that the last time "I was here, they were trying to get at the food in my backpack."

    She thought all of this was funny and really wanted to see them.

    After spending who knows how long at Waumbek's Lookout it was time to make our way out.

    We flew back to Starr King and took a quick break. Pokey dipped into the trees to go to the bathroom. At the summit of Starr King there is a chimney. It's a relic of times past. There used to be a hotel at the top. This is what remains. Sitting on top of it was a Gray Jay.

    "Pokey, hurry up! There's a Gray Jay on top of the chimney!" I said.

    She popped out of the trees and saw it.

    "What is that?" asked another hiker.

    "A Gray Jay."

    "He just flew over and grabbed food out of my hand before you guys got here," he said.

    "Yeah, They're known to do that." I replied.

    After our break, we began the descent in earnest. It was a nice walk and it flew by.

    We got back to the car at 4:40 PM.
    Considering whatever the time we spent on top?
    Not bad my friends.

    We stopped and grabbed something to eat immediately afterwards. Then, we made our way back through Vermont. It was a nice and uneventful drive which is always a good thing. We arrived at the ferry and waited as they switched out ships before boarding. We got home at 9 PM.

    Pokey was over the "Moon" with this trip. The chance to hike a 4000'er in a different State and enjoy the "new" scenery greatly lifted her mood. She needed it. I needed it.

    What can ya say?


    Pokey Moonshine:

    NH: 1/48
    ADK: 44/46


  • #2
    Oh man! What a great little hike. I have only hiked one time in NH —will you all keep working on the high peaks there? I sure hope so—cause I would love to read your reports. Go dad! Go Pokey!
    46/46, 20/46w "I only went out for a walk, and concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." John Muir


    • Learning The Trails
      Learning The Trails commented
      Editing a comment
      I hiked Moosilauke a few years ago before the pandemic and was like "I need to get out here more often."
      So, yes. I want to keep going there. Not just for their 4000ers.
      The Percy Peaks are visible from the hotel. They look so awesome that they're on the bucketlist.

  • #3
    I absolutely love your tales of adventure with Pokey.
    "Climbing is about freedom. There's no prize money; there are no gold medals. The mountains are all about going there to do what you want to do. That's why I'll never tell anyone else how to climb. All I can say is, This is how I prefer to do it."
    Ed Viesturs