Friday, June 28, 2013

Trip Report: Father's Day on Mt. Kearsarge

My dad was with us and it was a beautiful Sunday—what better to do than go for a hike? We considered a return to local favorite Oak Hill, which B had enjoyed in the fall, but I proposed trying Mount Kearsarge, and after learning that there was a fire tower at the top of that peak too, Brynna acquiesced.

Mount Kearsarge is about 40 minutes from us, up I-89, and can be reached by auto road and then a very short trail (which, even with a four year old, seemed like cheating) or from the Warner side via a steep-ish, just over mile-long trail. It is one of the New Hampshire mountains known as "52 With A View" and is thus very popular, so we knew we'd have plenty of company.

Here we are at the trailhead:

Brynna was very determined from the start. We had told her that it would be steep, but she kept saying that even if her legs were tired or she fell down, she would just keep on going. It took us a little more than an hour to get to the top, and we stopped about halfway up for a sit-down drink and a snack, and drank and nibbled on the go a few other times. The steep sections actually didn't bother B too much as they tended to be ledgy, and she proved to be quite the little scrambler!

Here she is getting a supporting hand from Alex, with Jasper keeping an eye on her as usual:

Planning her path:

Heading up, up, up with Jasper waiting his turn:

On the ledges toward the top:

We had a lovely rest at the breezy summit, which has panoramic views. Brynna was so busy exploring that we forgot to take any photos right at the top. She climbed the fire tower twice! We all ate lots of Alex's super-gorp (which instead of just Good Old Raisins and Peanuts, usually includes Cheerios, dried cranberries, peanuts, and chocolate chips), and Jasper enjoyed a handful of doggie treats.

We decided to head down via a slightly longer and more gradual trail, thinking it would be easier on the grown-ups' knees and on B's smaller legs. She initially protested, having enjoyed the scrambling on the way up, but was pleased to encounter plenty of ledges on the top part of our exit route as well.

Here's an oddly-shaped tree trunk:

Leading the way off the summit:

And onward:

Brynna did wonderfully until we had about half a mile to go. The trail became less interesting (i.e. the big rocks went away) and she was quite tired. I think that on future hikes I will bring some special treats for this last portion of the walk out, like chocolate kisses or other little candies.

Here she is taking a break with M:

Overall, a big success. B carried her little backpack throughout (with a small water bottle and a small bag of gorp). She seemed comfortable in her LL Bean hiking shoes, a pair of Patagonia trail pants (though she and I both discovered that we need to procure belts for our hiking pants), and a T-shirt. I carried her warm stuff and additional water. She expended some extra energy by climbing over big rocks in the trail instead of walking around, but that's half the fun for her! She showed a lot of pluck and we are so very proud of her for climbing her first real mountain. I recently read a book about hiking the 52 With A View list, and though some of those trails are definitely too long or difficult for B for a few years yet, it had some great suggestions of short-ish, scrambly hikes with excellent view pay-offs, so I think we'll target some of those next.

Jasper, of course, had a great time as well. We often put his doggie backpack on for hikes so that he can carry his own water and treats, but it was a short enough hike that I did that for him on this particular day. He's been doing some occasional limping over the last month or two (we're wondering about arthritis — he's seven or eight now!) but handled this hike without any trouble and didn't seem sore the next day.

All in all, an excellent day, and Brynna's strong legs bode well for a fun summer of hiking!

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