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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mount Roberts

As part of me trying to hike the whole Ossipee Range, Mount Roberts seemed like a great choice for a second summit. It looked like my kind of hike- 5 miles roundtrip, and around 1,500 feet of elevation gain. That perfect mix of long-enough-that-you-earn-your-views-and-feel-accomplished and short-enough-that-I'll-really-enjoy-myself-and-not-be-dead-after. Put that at the top of my list of things I learned about me and hiking this year- that's my favorite size hike. 

Anyway, I parked at the main Castle In The Clouds parking area, packed up my stuff and headed out at my standard catch-the-sunset-on-the-way-down hike. I'm using a lot of dashes. I'll try to stop. 

There are lots of signs.

Turn left after the main horse area.

Do your best to avoid giant piles of turd.

I looped around the horse field and the road started looping to the left. 

I had no idea what to do here, so I decided that the right way felt more like it was going up a mountain, so I went that way. I'm pretty sure the left side met up later, but it looked gross. I made the right decision.

The trail was pretty rocky and ugly at first, mixed with boring and steep.

But I liked it. Some felt a lot like a mountain bike trail.

Eventually, there was a short spur to a viewpoint that was pretty nice.

Then it got real steep for a short section, then heavenly. 

That's a ridiculous word to use for it, but I really loved this trail once I got to this point. It was just the perfect mix of not too step, meandering, thick woods but still kind of open, etc. I felt like I was alone in the middle of nowhere in deep woods, but had sunlight shining through everywhere. It seemed like the trees were all kind of short. What a great trail.

It started opening up after a little bit, and I was hiking faster and faster, loving the feel of coming out of the deep woods into such a pretty sky.

And turning around, I knew I loved this hike already.

You get to hike for awhile on a mostly exposed area that's still covered in brush with trees everywhere. I haven't done any of the huge ridge hikes yet where you're on top of the world, and I actually assumed I wouldn't love them as much as others because of how much I love the remote, being deep in the middle of nowhere woods feel. But I'm a view whore- how could I not love hiking long sections with views everywhere?

This was great to hike up, but I knew the real treat would be coming back down, since all the views were behind me on the way up.

The trail started making its way back into to the woods. Check out this grizzled white tree:

The trail got real thick and pretty overgrown. I immediately felt like everyone who hikes Mount Roberts doesn't bother going all the way up since all the great views are still a ways below the wooded summit. But I always go to the top of the mountain. It doesn't count otherwise.

The trail eventually came to a sign with super grown in fire road, and I remembered that this was a big network of trails.

Then I was at the summit.

tough in pink!

You have views of Faraway Mountain and some distant stuff, but you can't see the real views from here, so this is definitely not a great summit.

still love it though!

On the way back down, I took a break on this rock and hung out for quite awhile, texting and just sitting in silence for once (usually music is non stop in my ears).

I hit my one hitter right there, and since I'd been realizing how much I loved being high on top of mountains listening to music, I decided to do 2 when I normally only do 1. And it hit me waaay harder than I expected. I was way higher than I meant to be right away. Once I finally stood up, I realized how bad my short term memory was in my weird zone-out-and-just-keep-walking daze. I immediately understood how easy it must have been for all those people you'd hear about on the news who got high or did something stronger and got lost in the woods. I used to make fun of those people, but wow, I get it now. 

Anyway, I got my shit together and focused on the trail- I had views to get to.

Coming out to this view was one of the highlights of my summer. I was up there completely alone and had a great mix of music going with lots of beautiful epic songs. I hung out here and ate a McDonalds chicken snack wrap and a granola bar, just walking around taking pictures and rocking out. 

I realized that I have a severe problem with taking pictures when I'm high on top of a mountain. I took SO MANY pictures, so many of the same stuff with slightly different angles or slightly different lighting. And they were all HDRs too, so I had like 120 pictures to sort through. This hike alone is a large reason why I fell so behind on Instagram over the summer. I couldn't get through all of the pictures. I think now that I've finally cleaned up the event in my iPhoto library, it's down to like 35 pictures. But I had 60 something all in various forms of edits for months. I need to learn how to stop with the pictures. But I got some good ones.

I realized this puddle would look pretty cool with Winnipesaukee behind it. 

From the right angle, it almost looked like some magical lake in Norway.

I hung up there and watched the sun mostly set, listening to music and playing air guitar, wandering around for probably close to an hour. It was absolutely wonderful. I spent most of the walk down thinking of the logistics behind trying to have a band play at a place like this- how to get instruments and fans up, how to clear it with landowners, how to keep it quiet enough and safe enough that it would work, the documentary I'd of course have to film about it, using Hilton's helicopter camera for it, the speech I'd make before the whole thing about how hard it was to put together and it's worth it to hear beautiful music with this view on top of a mountain, etc. Of course it was Caspian in my theoretical plan. I really think that would be about the coolest thing ever. 

classic self portrait

The whole hike down was awesome. I felt fantastic, was so into the music, and all my views were perfect. Absolutely a highlight of my summer and probably my favorite hike of the year. 

The sky did some weird stuff.

I especially love this one:

As I left the exposed area and had switched from shuffle to just listening to Caspian albums, I got back into the woods that I had loved so much on the way up, and I got some awesome sunset rays shooting through the woods. It was literally like I had said "I wish this hike was even better" and the nature gods went "oh, ok- here."

I always see people posting pictures of crazy sunrays on Instagram and I somehow never get to see any. I saw some huge ones shooting though large sections of woods that night. My camera really sucked at capturing any of it, but I got a few good ones, especially this one I 'grammed: 

light sword

The hike got darker as it always does, and I picked up the pace to get back to my car. On the way back, I stopped at the horse area and had a weird creepy moment with this horse:

I stopped listening to music as I got closer to the horse area. I've always been freaked out by horses- I've never been a fan. But coming down from a mountain alone to an area where horses lived outside with nobody else around was really pretty cool. Since this hike, I've spent a few times walking through this area at night, just alone in the cold with horses I can barely see in the distance, and it's been a really surreal, creepy but oddly cool and kind of beautiful experience every time. I'm not sure why, there's just something about this area that's really cool at night. Just hanging with the horses. 

I saw a giant horse named Zeus that day too- he was in his own area and I tried to get pictures of him, but I tried to get them close, and the lighting was never right, plus, being close, you couldn't tell just how big he was. I also purposefully don't spend a lot of time with horses, so I figured he was pretty huge, but maybe not anything record breaking. Apparently, he was one of the biggest horses in the world- some sites say the biggest, some say the tallest, some say the second tallest. I'm not sure which is accurate, but he was huge and pretty well known. He died about a month ago (which, after reading his facebook page almost just made me cry), and there's talk of having a life-size statue of him on the Castle in the Clouds grounds. I really hope they do that, and I'm happy that I got to see him that night.

So anyway, yea. I really loved this hike. Even taking my state of mind, music, having the mountain to myself (other than one older couple I saw on the way up) and it being August and an absolutely perfect summer night out of the equation, this is still a pretty awesome hike. It's one of my favorite finds and I'd absolutely recommend it, especially for people who want awesome views without a ton of effort. I plan on hiking it again this year- possibly twice as I imagine it would be awesome in the fall, and I'm planning a massive Ossipee Range traverse. Stay tuned.

Oh- so here's one. 
I hike alone 95% of the time. And 75% of the time I'm hiking, I'm listening to music. I don't blast it, but it's loud enough. I've had a few scares where I thought I heard a growl and after pausing the music after coming to from my brief heart attack, it's either been a distant plane, thunder, a rock I stood on shifting weight, or, the scariest time, a pheasant flying at me through the woods. But other than almost walking directly into a porcupine, I've yet to have any real scares with any dangerous animals. 
I checked a site I often use to make sure I got the mileage and elevation gain right, and clicked one of the trip reports- http://www.franklinsites.com/hikephotos/NewHampshire/mtroberts-2013-0805.php

I laughed and thought "wow, that first picture could have been taken by me- it looks exactly the same. Then I scrolled down and saw a picture of a bear. The trip reporter had seen 3 bears on their way up the mountain, and had sent a cub up a tree with the mother very closely growling at him/her. I looked to see what day it was on, and it was August 5th. I knew that was close to when I had hiked, so I checked my iCal (where I keep track of hikes and everything else in the world), and saw that my hike was on Sunday, which was August 4th. That's pretty damn close. I had no idea bears would be in the Ossipee Range, right on the trail. Time to start turning that music down a little more.

currently listening to: We Vs. Death- "Postneoliberalparadise"