Well, that was quite a trip! Nothing like hanging around a dozen or so
Gonzos for a week of driving, eating, drinking and hiking. The 'croo of
Sun god, Dipper, Pack It In, Fireball, Helga, Duke, Google,
Scrounger, Mae West and Mime descended upon The Farm in New
Hampshire and really made pigs of ourselves with the food, beer and
chatter. Don't know who these oddly-named people are? Read on. Don't care who they
are? F^&*k Wu.
Even with Bruce Duffy (AKA Sun god) sucking up 80% of the air time, there was a lot covered
in our nightly round-the-table discussions. We may have even come up with an answer to
some of the dilemmas facing mankind. That's without discussing RELIGION!!!!
I'm in love with my new body!
I'm in love with my new body!
Goodness! Someone shut that man up. The phrase echoes off the canyon
walls on our hikes and bounces around my dreams while I'm sleeping. Mr.
Duffy insists that he doesn't dream. That's as may be, but if I have to
endure that phrase one more time....Actually, it's a lot of fun hearing
Bruce spouting in the middle of a hike. Means we're under book time. You
just know that he is very PROUD of himself, even if he says he is only
PLEASED with himself.
It takes almost 14 hours to get to Robert's Pinestead Farm in Franconia.
No way around it. Makes for a long day. We've started taking our food
breaks at restaurants. Better food, more leisurely pace. Personally, I
like fast food on a one-day drive. Less bother all around and you know
what you're getting.
Unfortunately, Wayne's (AKA Pack It In) car had a small transmission problem on this
trip. Greg (AKA Fireball) and Wayne had to skip one of the hikes to get the beast
repaired. They got that hike back later in the week, when everyone but
James (AKA Google) and Ross (AKA Scrounger) was perhaps too beat up to continue.
The drive back is broken into 2 legs. Off to Bangor after the Thursday
morning hike. Big steak and beer dinner at the Ground Round, then a
much lighter trip back to Halifax the next day.
The Zealand Falls Hike
What a sturdy, little 'croo we are! It's raining, we're facing a 5 hour
hike and there is no talk of cutting this one off. We're all fresh. The
feet don't hurt, the legs are fine. Off we go.
Probably an hour into this hike and we hear our first I'm in love with my new body!
from Duffy. We're taking a water break and everyone is still in good
shape. Quite a change from the old, take a step, drag Duffy a step hikes
of the past. Amazing what losing 20 lbs can do for your ability to haul
the rest of your body up and over these mountains. Of course, he was
still no-ways near Nancy (AKA Helga) as her base pace put her just
behind James for all the hikes. Methinks a new trailname is
in the offing.
The hike to the peak goes quickly, as does the downhill to the Hut. A
nice chat with our first of many thru-hikers, some hot soup, a
trip out to the Falls and we're off for the very mild finish to a nice
day of hiking.
It must be mentioned that Sun god almost fell down the Falls. I guess
that he still wasn't used to the fact that now he is a light as a Blue-Jay, the wind can actually push him around. The funny thing about this
minor accident was that as buddy was trying to grab enough Duffy to keep him from
going down the Falls, Bruce was yelling at buddy to grab his camera. I
was with Duffy when he lost his first digital camera, so I know that the
embarrassment of losing the next one would be great. Still, Duffy's
'soft hands' may not have been much help on the slide the rocks.
Back to the Farm to play 'how many fingers' till sunset. GordonY (AKA Doctor Dick) won
the first day, where the guesses are 15-30 minutes apart, as compared to
the 15-30 seconds apart once we know one sunset time. A nice lady from
Ontario got into the game, and was 2nd. Same as last as far as $$ is
The Ammonoosuc Hike
I love this hike. It is my favorite in the Whites. It has a little bit of everything.
You're by water all the time, criss-crossing a few times. Add in a few
waterfalls and pools, some spectacular views, rock-clambering, sometimes
snow, pretty much always fog, some cairns at the end and the lovely
Lakes of the Clouds hut at the top, where the soup is always kick-ass
and the place hopping. It's not my favorite hut (too busy), but it has 2
little lakes right next door that will always qualify as entry to the
original Splinter Group - The Gonzo Swim team.
While slurping up a bottomless bowl of soup, we asked about the Gonzo licence plate, and sure
enough, they had it at the hut! Aren't we infamous! The 'croo thought that us being there
was cool, but we didn't
get the same rock-star status that we enjoyed at Lonesome Lake a few
years back. That' croo wanted pictures with us and we left them a t-
shirt. Times passes, I guess.
While it was so nice to beat book time on the way up, this hike is
actually a really long one and the Jewel Trail going down is a bugger on
a wet day. This hike marked the first time
that GordonY (AKA Doctor Bill You Later) had been to the top, so we all
beat our way up there in the increasing wind. Nice to have severe
weather at the top. Keeps the tourists in the restaurant.
Some bright bulb the night before had suggested that we think
about taking the Cog Railway on the way down. Brilliant! It was a pricey
trip, though as a one-time treat it was perfect. A few people on the choo-choo
were quite impressed with having REAL hikers on board. Sort of a catch-
22, eh? REAL hikers hike UP and DOWN the mountain. Been there, done that
a few times, have the t-shirts.
The train 'croo was interesting to say the least...
It Doesn't Have To Be Fun...To Be Fun...
My first time up Mt Washington, I took my car up on a clear, sunny day.
It felt completely wrong.
I have been trying to redeem that initial mistake ever since with an
assortment of hikes and even a run up. Because of the clear conditions,
I got my first look at Lakes of the Clouds and have been enthralled ever
since. Looking down at water from a high height is always what attracts
me to hiking. Swimming in that same water completes the thrill.
I like swimming in really cold water for a few reasons. The adrenaline rush
after the initial shock is a lot of fun. Makes you feel warm and fuzzy,
even tho you're not. As well, few people find this kind of sport
attractive. It's nice to stand out from the common crowd. And of course,
since my trailname is Dipper...I have expectations to live up to. It
also helps to cement my memory of a trip.
Chris Hollebone and I swimming
in that mud-hole called Star Lake (Madison Hut) on the first
Presidential Hike in '96 is the memory that brings back all the others.
My trailname back then was Tuborg, so of course, I was drinking a beer
on top of Madison that I had lugged up. I was looking for a new
trailname. Coming from a long illustrious line of alcoholics, my Mom was
not pleased to hear that name associated with my hiking stories.
Doctor, Doctor, Give me a clue...
We had some medical problems on this trip, so good thing we had a
doctor-in-residence. Put another way, we had a doctor on this trip, so
good thing we had some medical problems. GordonY (AKA Doctor Doctor)
booked a lot of billable hours. As a layman, I thought he over-prescribed
Greg (who seemed to be having trouble with the steady diet of ginormous
salads that accompanied each meal fit for a small village)
and under-prescribed Nancy (AKA Gazelle), but that's why we pay him
the big bucks.
As much fun as we were having on the hikes, just sitting around the Farm
provided a LOT of entertainment. Have you ever seen Bruce Duffy (AKA
Volcano) mad? And I mean mad. The man had fire coming out of his eyes and
smoke coming out of his ears. It was difficult to get a true version of
the story (even though we heard it a few times...) as even the re-
telling seemed to set him off. The basic idea was that a woman showed up
at the Farm who was organizing the sleeping places for a small tour
group (not unlike what Duffy does), and she was having a hard time with
the speed and quality of the information she was receiving (not unlike
what Duffy does). She actually had the audacity to spin around on Mr.
Duffy and leave him in the middle of a sentence! (not unlike what Duffy
does). I never met the woman, but by all accounts, she was a female Mr.
Duffy. Saints preserve us. I thought the man was a one-off.
One of the many complaints we have on our trips is that everyone wants to
quote some facts to back up their personal pet theories.
If we only could access Google during these prolonged arguments...
Well, as it turns out, we can. James (AKA Google) is an amazing fount of
knowledge. Personally, I think we should call him Rain Man instead, but
Google is so much more au courant, wouldn't you say?
New Gonzo Splinter Group - The 10% Club
We have a new Gonzo Splinter Group. Apparently, if you place 10 people in a room,
the odds are that 1 of them is in this 10% Club. This hard-ass theory was tested
with the 10 people lodged in the Farm, but the results were iffy. We argued this topic
until we were all limp and sweaty, but with no hard answer to this most
prickly of problems. We decided to put the issue back in the closet
for now, but we're sure it will pop out at some time in the near future.
There was also a lot of discussion as to whether a person belonged to
the Club from birth or if they just opted to join as they pleased, like
some sort of illicit pleasure. Why someone would actually want to join
this Club seemed beyond most people, as Club members don't seem to get a
lot of support and require quite a bit of hand-holding. Bizarre.
What Can a Man Do?
On Tuesday, Robert (AKA Mae West) and Sue (AKA Mime) joined us for a big
meal and lots of dessert. Slowly but surely, the discussion topics ended up with
some sort of sexual taint. Now this
is a common occurrence with a bunch of guys, but once you add women to
the mix, the topics tend to shy away from this most base of sentiments.
Somebody was concerned about graphic pictures inadvertently remaining on
their hard drives. To say that this discussion was a lot of fun would
be a serious understatement. We may have to come up with new trailnames
for Bob (Grilled Cheese) and Sue (The Inquisitor). There are 2 things to
keep in mind when dealing with computers:
- Never send an email that can't be read by your wife, daughter and
- Deleting a picture from your computer does NOT get rid of it off your
The Simple Joy of Walking
There was built-in day off on this trip, and as luck would have it, the
day was not fit for hiking anyway. Greg and Wayne tried to get in
a hike to make up for missing the Ammonoosuc hike, but it was not to be.
Nancy's car went to Conway for the day and was full. The only person
out-of-step was yours truly (Dipper). I seem to have acquired a fondness for
walking the past few years. I did a lot of it in Ireland, B.C. and Cuba,
and have been walking to and from work quite a bit the past year.
I decided to walk to Littleton and back, about a 24 mile round-trip. My
daily high prior to this was 42 kms (also known as a marathon) and this
would at least match that. To put it lightly, it poured on the walk to
Franconia. Thunder and lightning, the whole nine-yards. I got soaked.
How soaked? When the bottom of your scrotum gets wet, you know the rest
of your body is wet. It's sort of like the last refuge. Of course, once
the gonads are wet, there is no sense in stopping, is there. Freeing, in
The walk to Littleton was a breeze. There is a lot of joy in just simply
walking. No real planning to do, no fancy gear to take along (altho I think I
will scrounge up a little umbrella). Walking doesn't take a lot of brainpower,
which frees up your mind and lets it drift.
I really like walking into and out of small towns, especially places
like Littleton (railway, centered on a river, cohesive downtown, funky,
old buildings). The walk in was so easy, I thought I'd stretch the walk
and circle around to Lisbon and back thru Sugar Hill.
Damn those little out-of-scale diner maps of a local area. The route I
picked ended up being about 35 miles as compared to the original 24.
Even with hitchhiking, I ended up putting in about 28 miles. Hard to enjoy the scenery
multiple body parts are screaming at you to stop.
Needless to say, the beer that evening was enjoyed immensely
The Webster Cliff Hike
Hike leader Wayne had suggested last year that we make a point of
finding new hikes to do (especially since our stamina and legs seemed to
be dwindling). Last year's Arethusa Falls, Frankenstein Cliffs and
Oceola hikes were as memorable as any we've done. This year we were
going to add Zealand, Webster and Cardigan to the list, with Cardigan
being new to everyone. I was pleased because it meant getting to 3 of
the AMC huts (leaving me just Galehead and Carter Notch).
I love the positive energy you get at the huts (as well as
the soup). No tourists at the Mitzpah Hut. You have to slag your body in
a few hours just to stay there, same for Madison and a few others like
Greenleaf and Lonesome Lake.
It was a crisp, breezy day, our first sunny day of the trip. After the
day off, we fairly flew up the inclines on this hike. Book time? Bah! The
initial view of the valley as you top the cliffs is easily worth the work
it took to get there. The cars on the highway seem like ants. Did we
really climb that far up? Since the average of this 'croo is almost 60,
I thought it was doubly impressive. Spring chickens we ain't (a real
word, Ross. You can look it up.
Used in a sentence: My microblog ain't no wiki cause I download iTunes to my iPhone from there)
The inland trip over to Mt. Jackson was delightful. Gorgeous weather,
sun streaming in thru the trees. We met quite a few thru-hikers (Vigil-Anti, Why, Snap, her friend and Savannah). Such a lovely day. At Mt.
Jackson, part of the group peeled off. Nancy, BruceM, James and Ross
journeyed over to Mitzpah for some soup and sun. It really is a beautiful
hut. Nice A-Frame with lots of windows and only 36 people. I want to stay there sometime.
OK. A quick 2 hour downhill hike out to the car on the highway and we're
done. Not so fast, boys and girl. At about 1/2 hour in, Nancy took a
weird step off a small rock and torqued her knee really bad. She
couldn't put any pressure on it for the first 10 minutes. Yikes! I have
helped transport a non-walking person out of the woods once, but that
was flat ground and we had rope and a tarp. This is a rocky downhill
with lots of drops and angles. Yikes!
Good news is that once we taped up her knee, Nancy could at least hobble
if she kept her knee very straight. Ross in front holding her, a walking
stick for side support, Murphy in back and James off to try and intercept
the good Doctor. It was interesting watch Nancy's knee teach her, and the
rest of us, what route to take around obstacles. Keep away from long
drop and rocks of any size that would force her left foot to lift. The
spatial/intuitive side of your brain will tell you to go left or right long
before your verbal/detail-oriented side has had a chance to figure things out.
Very cool. Thanks to Nancy's toughness and stamina, we got out with no real
problems. As of last reckoning, it looks like no serious damage to the
knee, which is really good news. More running to be done yet!
The Mt Thom Hike
If we get a picture from this hike (and maybe a little writeup?)
As much fun as this trip was, the reality is that we are all getting a
tad older (Duffy the latest exception). We didn't hike every day and we
took the choo-choo down Mt. Washington. Of course, we're now back under
book-time (again, thanks to Mr. Duffy...I think).
There are so many enjoyable parts to a trip like this. The long drive, staying at
the Farm, sharing all our meals and beer, the new hikes, the aging
bodies. I'm sure that I enjoyed this trip as much as all the others,
maybe more as time becomes just a little more precious.
Bruce (aka DIPPER)