f Gonzos Hike Mount Washington 2008

Hike the Whites 2008       Picasa Photo Album

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!   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.

The Drives

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 concerned.

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 mother-in-law
- Deleting a picture from your computer does NOT get rid of it off your hard drive

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 a way.

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)