Category Archives: Not Politics

The Presidentials

Mt. Washington In the middle of August, I went on a small vacation. Even when I’m on vacation, I can’t get very far from the Presidents – in this case, the mountains of the Presidential Range located in the White Mountains National Forest in the battleground state of New Hampshire. The image to the right is the tallest mountain in the Northeastern United States – Mount Washington. Located in Coos County, the mountain has an elevation of 1,917m and is home to the highest surface wind ever recorded (372km/hr on April 12, 1934). The weather observatory is visible on the summit. The photo is taken from a trail on the flank of nearby Mount Jefferson. Although the outpost looks like a nice, short hike, its actually deceptively far from this location.

Climbing The hike up Mount Jefferson started in Jefferson Notch and took the Caps Ridge Trail. As seen in the photo to the left, the hiking was quite steep at times, passing multiple false-summits. The trail starts at 917m in elevation and continues 4km towards the east climbing 823m to the top of the mountain (el. 1741m). The trailhead is located in the Boreal Forest zone (mostly firs and birches) and traverses into the Alpine zone (lichens and small plants). By the time one reaches the summit, there is nothing but rocks and lichen and a great view (when the clouds break). clouds At one point in our journey, while still in the Boreal Forest, there was a nice rock outcrop from which the view was vast. The photo on the right shows the clouds rolling over the ridge just ahead of us. Fortunately, as we ascended, the clouds continued to lift. At the top, conditions were cool (~5 degrees celcius). Gloves and hats required in August! Overall, the hike took about 8 hours round-trip. We took our time, had lunch at the summit, and enjoyed the views. In addition, some parts of the path were actually quite difficult. Very enjoyable, and a good workout!


A Diversion from Politics

Only two days before the Iowa Caucus, instead of keeping my eyes glued to CNN or the computer screen, I found myself hiking in the wilderness of Southern California! A magnificent place – just to the south of Palm Springs is Mount San Jacinto Wilderness State Park. An airial tramway (with quite a large gondola) whisks passengers up about a 2 mile cable to the mountain station, some 8,500 feet above sea level. Here is a beautiful high forest with large pines – and about 2 inches of snow with a temperature of 39F (and to think I go hiking in the snow in California after leaving the icebox in Boston!).

I didn’t stay in the “cold” long, and soon I was back in the desert below for a quick lunch in Palm Springs. Next was a visit to Joshua Tree National Park. The park is another national treasure, a beautiful desert landscape filled with, yep, Joshua Trees – essentially a rather large Yucca plant. The landscape was filled with huge rounded boulders of granite, flat plains, and mountains. One small hike was through the “hidden valley”, a lowland area surrounded on all sides by rocky uplift (with spires) – it was blasted into in the early part of the 20th century in order to allow cattle to access some vegetation to feed on. Overall, a very enjoyable outing.