Hiking season has officially begun! And we are excited to finally hit the trails.
We decided to start with an easy hike and get back into the swing of things. We did a repeat hike, Mt. Willard. We know the terrain and what to expect.
Instead of repeating myself, you can find more about Mt. Willard, here, and the trail details.
However, for those hiking the trails, the current conditions range from dry, wet, mud, snow and ice. You get them all on this hike. So, be careful. You could use micro-spikes, if you want, towards the summit. We didn’t have them. We walked on the side of the trail and avoided the ice.
If it stays warm, all the snow and ice should be gone in about two weeks. Of course, that means mud and tons of it. Also, the water crossing may be a little tricky.
Here are some images from our hike.
For the first hike of the season this is a great trail. It was rather busy, if you want more solitude, I suggest skipping this trail.
A short clip from Abby, her view during the submit approach…
There is one major question, I get asked all the time when hiking with M. In fact, I get asked it so much I have a standardized the answer to encumber answers to the next several questions that are highly likely to be asked. The most asked question is **drum roll**
How much does your pack weigh?
My answer – My pack weighs between 40 to 45 pounds. It depends on length of the hike, the season, the weather and the weight of M. M weighs between 30 to 32 pounds.
So, how did I come up with 40 to 45 pounds. Well, as stated M weighs between 30 to 32 pounds. Yes, I weigh her, bi-weekly during hiking season. My only purpose for this to make help make sure my pack states under 45 pounds (per the specs requirement for my pack). By knowing her weight and the weight of water I’m carrying makes it rather easy to pack everything else.
I carry two sources of water. One is a 2 liter Camelbak, which weighs approximately 4.4 pounds. The second is a 1.5 liter Camelbak, which weighs approximately 3.3 lbs that is for M. The great thing about water is that it will be used and my pack gets a wee-bit lighter as I go. But, if needed at huts the water will be partially or completely refilled. This means at maximum I carry about 7.7 lbs of water.
Let’s calculate that, so you don’t have to break out the calculator, break out the pen and paper or think too hard. I know its been a rough week. 🙂 The weight of M and the weight of water means I carry 37.7 to 39.7 lbs. That leaves me with a remaining weight of 5.3 to 7.3 lbs.
The inside my pack are the items below:
2 to 3 diapers and wipes
Plastic bag for dirty diapers
long sleeve shirt for M
Rain/wind jacket for M
Long hiking pants for M (used as backup)
Cold weather hat for M (used when its windy)
Extra Socks for M (used as backup or if needed as gloves for unexpected weather change)
Snacks for M and I (homemade trail-mix & bars which is normally carried in my cargo or front pocket)
Long sleeve shirt for me
Rain/wind jacket for me
Extra socks for me
Medkit for myself
Rain/Wind cover for pack
Orange Trail Marking Tape
That is the standard items that HAVE TO come along. The only items that may which to J’s pack is my long sleeve shirt, rain/wind jacket and extra socks. Again, during the colder season, which for M since she is not moving most of the time really starts towards the end of August/beginning of September. And that is subject to change when hiking the White Mountains. Why, simply because it snowed this year in June. As I always say, being prepared is what is most important and half the battle.
The accessory items (i.e. connected to my pack in a handy location) are as follows:
Chap stick (which is 99% of the time is in my front zip pocket)
Special Ops 6″ tactical knife with pouch (Thank you to J for the lessons in uses and how to use)
Mirror for M
Old Fashion compass
Map (which is 99% of the time is in my cargo pocket in a waterproof protector)
And that folks sums it up. Surprisingly, your clothes and items do not add that much extra weight, but it still counts towards the total weight.
No matter what my pack always always carries emergencies items for M and I. That’s for injuries, unexpected people or animal attack and separation from J. We never want anything to happen, but we rather be prepared for it then be “up sh*ts creek without a paddle”.
And if you are wondering, we have taken a well-used hiking trail in Virginia that we played a real game of “hide and get moving” from a Black Bear. We actually could feel the impact tremors from the Bear’s paw striking the ground and hear the bear growl which means “Exit, stage left or be lunch”. No matter where you go for hiking, remember you are on their land, their territory and its best to respect that, but be prepared.
What can I say about this hike? I think one word sums it up, beautiful!
Lonesome Lake is a wonderful location for families or anyone who wants to spend some quality time in the mountains. The views are incredible. Basically, it’s a small slice of heaven in the Franconia Notch State Park. You can find out more about Lonesome Lake, here.
The lake has an AMC Hut about 400 ft from the lake. For more information about the hut, you can find it — here. This is a popular hut during the summer time, so plan ahead.
We planned to stop by this hut for our normal break routine. ie.. water refill, bathroom, snack time, let M out and run around. During, our short visit, I heard the same question asked several times by different hikers. I have heard this question asked at other hut locations. So, I am going to take a moment and answer it. And for anyone that needs this question answered. I am sure the staff is sick of answering it. So, what’s the question, you wonder…..
“How do you guys get the food up here?”
The answer is simple the staff carries it up. There is no special helicopter delivery system, no ATV, no dirt bike and no green men from Mars who beam the food in. It’s that simple, the staff carries it up and cooks it for you. These are the same people, who answer your questions regarding your stay, trail details, clean up after you leave and brings down the trash they created and the trash that you forgot about or purposely left behind.
So, remember to thank them. Even when we are just passing through using the bathroom, siting at the table and refilling our water, we thank them. They are always preparing, planning and answering questions. Yes, they love their job, but a little appreciation goes along way.
And remember it’s not their job to carry down your trash. They carry up all the items to make sure stay at the hut is one of your best stays ever. They carry down the trash, so help them out by carrying down your own trash. We carry all our trash down, which includes M’s dirty diapers. Just do your part, even if it’s just a few tissues.
And please, do not ask this question again… 🙂
Okay, off he soapbox and onto our hike…
We parked at the Basin and walked the Pemi Trail to the Cascade Brook Trail. If you do not like water crossings this is NOT a hike for you. Your first major water crossing is tough. We ended up back tracking about 250 feet to find a location to cross. Your second major water crossing is at the junction of Basin – Cascade Trail and Cascade Brooke Trail. This bridge was washed out a few years ago and still has not been replaced. In high waters, there is no way to cross this with a child hiking or on your back.
There are other paths you can take to get to Lonesome Lake, such as, Lonesome Lake Trail. Pretty straight forward trail name on the map.
Here are some pictures from getting ready to go and the Basin area…
The Pemi Trail follows the brook and connects with the Cascade Brook Trail. You will literally walk into this sign.
Yes, as of 2014 the bridge is still out. And do not get all upset about it. There are only so many volunteers to help rebuild and maintain trails and only so much funding.
Heavy rain, smelting snow and just good ol’ White Mountain weather can cause the water to run high. If you are unsure about crossing water then skip this trail and head up the Lonesome Lake Trail. If you are hiking during the early Spring and don’t want to carry a canoe for about 1.5 miles to Cascade Brook to cross then re-plan your route. All jokes aside, we travelled up and down the Cascade Brook to find the best place to cross. What is easy for a regular hiker with a 5 lb pack is not the same for one with a 42 lb pack with a moving child. It is a bit of a challenge.
Once you are on the Cascade-Brook Trail the climb is very easy. I use “very easy” since we have hiked the Jewel Trail, Webster-Jackson Trail, 19 Brook & 19 Mile Trail, Baldface and many others. The Cascade-Brook Trail is a great beginner trail up to Lonesome Lake minus the water crossing. The climb is gradual and the terrain is very basic. You will deal with some rocks but nothing too strenuous. Even though, it is a basic/easy trail, during or after a good rain, some of the terrain a bit more challenging. So, use a bit of caution.
During our hike up to the crossing… Miss M decided it was time for a nap.
Here is the junction of the Cascade Brook Trail and the Basin-Cascade Trail. Along with a few other trails.
This water crossing was a bit tricky, not as much, as the one we faced following the Pemi Trail before meeting up with the Cascade Brook Trail. We were about to cross when another hiker coming down the Cascade Brook Trail and gave us a hand. And no, that’s not the ’round of applause’ hand. He took the time to help me and M across the water. He stood in the middle and helped to guide me along to J. We could have done it alone, but this hiker took the time to show us generosity. Not many do, and we give him many thanks.
This crossing is not made for first timers or amateurs hiking with a toddler, one miss step or slip, you and yours will be mid-leg or laying in rapidly moving water and will hit every rock in the immediate area on your way down.
From this crossing, we ran into a group of hikers at another junction. This junction is for the Kinsman Trail or Kinsman Shelter and the Lonesome Lake Hut and Cascade Brook Trail. They were on their way to the Kinsman Pond, which you can access the from the Cascade Brook Trail, just turn left at this junction. We ended up taking some time to help their group decide what path was best for them based on time, water needs and their strength. We used our good old fashion AMC White Mountain Guide Map to give them a better visual of the trails, inclines and locations of huts.
I know shocking we are a high-tech family, but our go to item is a paper map that is secured in a waterproof plastic zip lock bag. In fact, we didn’t just use this map for this one instance, but we pulled it out at the junction point of Hi-Cannon Trail, Kinsman Trail Ridge and Cannon Mountain and Lonesome Lake Hut.
Once, you get to this junction for the Kinsman Trail & Shelter and Lonesome Lake Hut, you have 0.8 miles to Lonesome Lake then another about 500ft to the hut. The 0.8 miles is filled with bog bridge crossings and rocks. The rock trail is basic, but take note of the moss on the rocks. If you do not know what moss looks like it’s the green stuff on the rocks. The moss makes your footing troublesome. Just be wary of the moss. No need to slip and get an injury.
The whole hike up to Lonesome Lake is absolutely worth every view. I mean it, do a 360 and take in it the beauty. Since, we hiked Little Haystack to Mt. Lincoln to Mt. Lafayette to the Greenfield Hut and down the view of the that range was incredible. We took a moment and reminisced about our last summer hike of 2013 before carrying on up to the hut.
View across the lake
We spent some time at the hut. With helping the hikers at the junction and our normal scheduled hut time. We fell behind our time-table by an hour. An hour, is not much, but when facing some serious climbing the added time is very important BUT we cannot skip our rest time. Rest is so important during long hikes. We made the decision to head up to Cannon Mountain and two additional back up plans during our rest at the hut. All the while, M was snacking on your sandwich and talking to whoever or whatever would listen.
There are numerous trails up to Cannon Mountain. We took Hi-Cannon Trail. This is NOT a trail for those starting out nor a trail for the lone hiker with a toddler. This trail is tough and you will face many obstacles along the way including but not limited to stepping up on rocks, climbing over rock facings, climbing up rock facings, climbing rocks with views straight out and down and lastly a ladder. Yup, a ladder. To help you again, a l-a-d-d-e-r that is nailed to the rock facing. And the climbing is steep, some would say very steep and arduous.
The ladder part of the climb has two problematic areas. 1) You slip, you better recover really quickly. With a toddler on your back there is not room for error. So, take your time. 2) At the top of the climb, you do not have room to step up and off the ladder. You will need to step to left along a wood plank to step off the ladder then push yourself up to a standing position. You know, those ridiculous side squats or side lunges you either hate or ask yourself why someone is doing them. This would be where that training comes in pretty handy.
After this stressful point of the climb, you will deal with more rock facings and more climbing. It is rather basic to what you just faced, but it can still cause some trouble especially if you are fatigued. The best thing about making it up this far are the views.
Of course, I just pointed to the lookout areas and J took the photos. This means my daredevil husband was hanging off a ledge to capture a few images.
This is a panoramic photo that has been “stitched together” from multiple shots taken higher up from two different clearings.
After the ladder and the great views, you come to another junction, which is Kinsman Ridge Trail and Cannon Mt. Trail. This junction is the location where I suggest you rest and check your time. From here the summit of Cannon Mountain is a half mile. The views from the observation tower are amazing, but it is not worth putting yourself or hiking group in endanger due to weather or limited sunlight.
Your descent back to the hut will first be either Kinsman Trail Ridge or Hi-Cannon Trail are both challenging ascents and just as challenging if not more challenging descents because of fatigue. The Jimmy-Fishing trail is not as hard, but you will first have to make it to it.
With that said, J and I revisited our plan and pulled out the good ol’ map. We revisited our back-up plans and looked at all the trails down and decided the best route was for us to take the Tram down. Yeah, I know hiking up and not hiking down may not qualify as a true hike for some. But we made the best decision for us given the time and the fact that we hike with a toddler.
So, we hiked the half mile up to Cannon Mountain.
Ironically, we saw this sign posted. Be safe out there. Going up is only half the battle you still have to make it back down.
We climbed up the tower enjoyed the view, captured the moment and thought about the hike up. All what we accomplished, as a team and as a family to get to enjoy the fantastic view in perfect weather.
We climbed back down the stairs. J and I discussed how much we both reallyreally wanted to hike down, but we kept to our back-up plan. We knew it was best and safety thing to do.
The Tram is located about 500 ft from the tower. It costs 26.00 for our family and you pay it at the bottom. The Tram ride is under 10 minutes. At the bottom, there is a gift shop and locations to sit and enjoy some food and drinks. The views from the Tram are wonderful. We met some really wonderful people on the Tram and another group of hikers that made the same decision we did after their climb up Cannon via the Kinsman Ridge Trail.
Now, don’t get your panties in a twist, we still had to walk four miles along the bike trail and Pemi Trail to get back to our vehicle. That my friends is the hardest part four miles full gear and nothing exciting to climb or to distract you. Honestly, it is like walking full gear in formation in boot camp the only thing missing was the drill sergeant.
We did stop along the trail to see the ‘Old Man of the Mountain’ Memorial.
The fall of Old Man of the Mountain….
In all honesty, the walk back to the car is a pleasant walk. But I can say I was extremely happy to make it to the car. My Garmin Fenix clocked our hike as 13 miles with a moving time of 7 hours and 30 minutes. We got back to the car at 530PM with an hour and half drive back to our home. If we hiked down the mountain we were looking at arriving at the car between 730 and 8PM with the travel ride home. We definitely made the right decision for our family. I would say from how Miss M looked like she was ready for a dinner, bath and her bed.
As mentioned, a few blogs ago, M and I received an ‘upgrade’ on our backpack/kid carrier. We were using the Deuter Kid Comfort II, which you can read about it in a post I wrote, here. That post goes into some important items to think about, I will re-address some of them during this post, because they are worth repeating a few times.
*Note; Toddler is interchangeable with Infant*
First off, my suggestion to anyone trying to find a toddler backpack for hiking is to go to your local hiking/outdoor retail store and try every single one on with your toddler in the seat. Some store examples are Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), REI, Gander Mnt, etc. I suggest calling ahead to make sure they have kid carriers at their location.
Also, make sure you have receive help from the store’s staff, they will know about the how to properly adjust the carrier for your toddler and fit the pack on you. What works for me, may not work for you. After trying several types on with M, again this year, we went with the Deuter Kid Comfort III. I have read some poor reviews over the pack. Most of the reviews, deal with not having the pack properly fitted for your child and/or you.
Lastly, I suggest thinking about what you will be hiking, how long and where. This will help you find the correct carrier and also help the store’s staff give you options.
I have absolutely no complaints with our Kid Comfort III (KC3). I have tried to find errors and things, I would want replaced or changed, but I can’t find have anything to complain about. For what we want, this pack is perfect. Every small issue, we had with the Kid Comfort II (KC2) has been improved. I am picky, very picky about things I purchase. With this pack, I have no buyer’s remorse…. none at all and that is definitely saying something.
Here is the link to Deuter’s site to show the pack — link. You can get all the information from them, but I am going to take you through the changes and why we love this carrier.
I am borrowing Deuter’s image of the Kid Comfort III. My pack is loaded out for hiking and I don’t want to get you confused on what is part of the pack and what is not. And yes, you get the teddy bear shown, red bow and all.
Okay, let’s get down to business. Here are the changes from the Kid Comfort II to the Kid Comfort III
1) The adjustment for fitting your back, sizing your torso.
Here is the old, from the KC2. The 4 loop adjustment…. A.K.A — A big PIA, if you have to change the pack between people and one is shorter or taller.
With the new, Kid Comfort III the adjustment is now found under the back padding and is a simple pull to shorten or loosen to lengthen. In addition, there is an easy sizing chart on the pack itself. When looking at the back of the pack, it is located behind the right side strap where your shoulder area would be if the pack was on your back. You can also find the location for your water bladder by finding the H2O marker on the pack and you will see the sizing chart. The sizing is done by L, M,S and on the arm strap is a line to help you line up to the correct fitting. Depending on your load, elevation gain or loss, and as your child grows you may need to adjust it. So, don’t get stuck on a setting.
Here is the back padding on the KC3
Right below the “VariFit” is the location of the strap. You flip out the padding and find the orange strap that you will loosen or tighten. The padding is connected to the pack with velcro.
Here is the sizing marker. As you can see the shoulder strap has the marker (white line on the left) and the sizing chart is on the right.
Another view of the sizing. As you can see, it is located near your water bladder.
Next up, the kick stand. The Kid Comfort II (KC2) is more square and does not have as wide of a base as the Kid Comfort III (KC3). This is important just for stabilizing the pack on the ground. With our Kid Comfort II, we always had to help stabilize the pack for M to get in. Now, with the Kid Comfort III, M can easily get in and out without trouble.
The images below show you the distance between the KC2 and KC3. The KC3 is about 2 inches wider.
Some other differences…
*Note: These are not in any order*
The front pocket of the KC3, which is located underneath your child’s seat is larger than the KC2. This is helpful in many ways, but mostly for weather changes preparedness and/or longer hikes. Do note this does depend on how well you pack.
KC2 had only one pocket on your waist bucket. With the new KC3, there is one on each side and you get a mirror in one pocket. We still use our own. Simply because I can connect the mirror to my carabiner clips for easy access or quick ‘put-away’. It is a nice function to have. You can pack snacks, iPhone, mirror and other items you want on hand into these two waist pockets.
The Sun Shade on the KC2 was detachable. This I hated!! We ended up either packing with J’s gear or placing it on the carrier even when we were not using it. Below is the picture to help you understand the old way. In the KC3, it is part of the carrier, it is located in a zip pocket right behind the child. Unzip the location and pull it out then when you are done with it tuck it way. No swing strings, no child trying to pull it.
The KC3 comes with foot stirrups for your child, the KC2 did not. This is wonderful! Your child will have their feet secured and stable. This makes them feel more comfortable. No more swing feet, no more getting kicked. I have received many comments on this one key thing on the Kid Comfort III. It’s purely a blessing!
The KC3 allows you to adjust the child resistant straps at the shoulder. As your child grows you can move up the straps. In addition, you can lower the seat of your child for growth or comfort. There are two locations to do this. First, is on the side of the seat and the other is in the front of the child’s seat. The adjustments are very simple, normal loop system.
The upgraded chin-pad, you can see it here at this, link. This pad can be is easily removed for washing. There are two snap buttons in the front and two loops to connect it to the pack in the back. We love this upgrade. It has helped keep our daughter’s head more stable when she sleeps.
The below image shows you the sun shade, foot stirrups, chin pad. Please, note, the sun shade is not in place, this was during our lunch break and M fell asleep. We did not want to wake her.
One major point, I give to the Deuter Kid Comfort is the side buckle, which allows for side entry. It is a small, but important item that all Deuter Kid Comforts offer. Our daughter loves hiking with us, this side buckle allows her to climb in when we are ready to go and out when its time to walk around. Yes, there are times we have to ‘put her in’, but that is only about 5% of the time, the rest she goes willing. Other carries, do not have this option. This buckle is not easily opened by a toddler. It locks in similar to a seatbelt clip.
Miss M has been known to climb in the pack when I am cleaning it or packing for a hike.
As we did with the Kid Comfort II, we connected a camel back waist pack to the back, so M has her own water source. This does add the weight to the pack, so be wary when doing this. This is the only issue I have will ALL child carriers used for hiking. There is no location for your child to have their own water source. Yes, most packs have a 2 Liter area for a bladder. But this means you and your child will need to spilt it. Two liters of water can go quick on a hot, humid, or harder trail.
In addition, we place Nuun in our water for electrolyte replenishment. Since, M isn’t doing much work, she doesn’t need them. Nuun is another recommended item for hydration. Unlike, Powerade, Gatorade, and other sugar filled hydration fluids, Nuun uses no sugar, no carbs it’s a great hydration source. Oh, as a suggestion, don’t use the Strawberry lemonade, it’s the only type so far we do not like. And my husband loves Strawberry lemonade.
If you have any questions or areas you would like clarification on. Please, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Another weekend…. another hike with my two favorite people. We spent our 4th of July at the Mt. Washington Resort. It is full of history, fun, great service and food. The weekend was worth every penny. Our visit there will be in another post.
Again, we had a late start for our hike. We are two-for-two on late starts, I am hoping it will not be a trend for this year. At least, this time it was for a good reason. J needed new hiking boots and EMS (Eastern Mountain Store, located in North Conway, NH) had them ready for us on Sunday at 830AM. We did an in-store pick up via EMS’ website. Thank you, EMS for keeping it simple and efficient. The other nice surprise was a new kid carrier by Deuter — the Kid Comfort III. It’s everything we need and all the upgrades from the Kid Comfort II, we were wanting. I will do another write up soon all. I have read too many poor reviews of the pack because people do not know how to use it and set the straps correctly.
On to the task at hand…. Mt. Jackson, located in White Mountains range of NH. Here are some facts about the mountain.
There are a few places to park, but the best place depends on your plan for the day. The up and back route to the summit (Jackson or Webster) or the Webster – Jackson loop trail, you will be coming back to the same location you started. This means you can park close to the trailhead or across the street at the Crawford’s Depot/Visitor Info parking lot. The other location is up at the Highland Center, which is a great if you are coming down the Crawford’s Path. Actually, if you don’t mind the short walk from the trailhead (about a quarter mile) I would suggest to park at the Highland Center. The Highland Center has bathrooms, food and drink, lodging, trail notifications, hiker log book, etc. Its a nice hiking center in Crawford’s Notch.
We have had breakfast, lunch and dinner there and surprisingly, it was very good food. They offer discounts for AMC members and those lodging at the center. My free advice is to plan your route and your back-up route then pick your parking location. Just beware when crossing Rt. 302, I know you are not a child, but Rt. 302 curves through that area and drivers don’t have a good line of sight for people crossing the road.
When hiking Mount Jackson or Mount Webster you will start in the same location on the path called Webster-Jackson Trail. I know, pretty creative name. 🙂 Make sure you are not taking the Saco Lake trail, which starts by crossing the bridge. Jackson-Webster Trailhead is the trail after the Saco Lake. That is if you are coming from the Depot/Visitor Info or Highland Center. When coming from Silver Cascades and the Flume Cascades it will be the first trailhead you see.
The Webster-Jackson Trail will probably be wet rock, mud and puddles. We hiked the trail two days after rain. It’s all passable, so no need to pack a boat and paddle. It does dry out when you get to the spilt of the trail. At the trail spilt, left leads to Mt. Jackson and right leads to Mt. Webster. Before the trail splits, there are some good inclines all rock and a nice cliff to view your progress up the mountain.
The cliff is called Bugle Cliff, the walk is about 0.1 miles (if that) away from the trail. The cliff overlooks Rt. 302, you can see the Highland Center along with the Mt. Washington Resort and Bretton Woods. It’s an awesome location for fall hiking pictures, you will capture the fall foliage, perfectly. Here are some images from the cliff…
The cliff is about a half to three quarters mile from the split.
Here is an image to help you get an idea of the climb to the trail spilt.
At the spilt, we took the Jackson trail, which is about 1.1 miles from the summit. You will face climbing that is not for novices. It’s a good climb with rocks and log steps, but the final 750 ft is true climbing and the incline is at its toughest. You will be climbing up rock facings. There are locations to place your feet and hands and at times there will be no helping points. At those points, your own strength and balance will be needed. Just know what you can handle and what you are capable doing, if you have to turn back, do so.
This is the incline report from our hiking Garmin GPS.
On the Jackson Trail, we crossed over the Silver Cascades. Depending on the season, this crossing can be tricky or not passable. After a good rain, the cascade will be running higher than normal. There are several locations to cross, so pick your location and cross. Hopefully, you do so without getting a boot or two wet. 🙂
As you continue upward, you will start to face, rock and log steps with a few switchbacks. Ironically, the song “Stairway to Heaven” was on repeat in my head during this part of the climb. It’s rather fitting, so just keep stepping up. You will know you have reached the last switchback when you come across your first warm-up climb onto a rock facing.
And yes, it is just a warm-up, the rock facing right after is your biggest challenge. Both are doable. At the second rock facing climb, I ended up moving a rock, so I could step up on the rock then onto the rock facing and use a nearby tree to pull myself up. Remember, I am carrying a 41lbs pack and it moves. With the guidance of J, I ended up turning so my back so I was using my legs to push up and onto part of the rock facing.
After, those two climbs, its all rock facing to the top. The summit is just around the corner. Either walk right on up or do some hand-over-hand climbing. I did the latter, since M gets a kick out of it. Plus, it was windy, about 35 to 45 mph. In the winy condition, I find it easier to be closer to the rock.
The view waiting for you at the summit is amazing….
After our lunch break and re-coup time. We decided it was best to take the trail to Mizpah Hut then down Crawford’s Path. Our first plan was to hike the loop, but with the high winds we decided the best and safest route for us was to take the path to Mizpah Hut.
The descent from Mount Jackson using the Mizpah hut is the easiest of all three trails (Webster Cliff Trail, Mount Jackson Trail and Mizpah Hut). A few minor rock facing descents and into the forest you head. The trip to Mizpah Hut is rather simple and not too exciting. After your climb up Mount Jackson, it is a walk in the woods. (No pun intended) You will pass over some bog bridges and rolling hills nothing hard on the legs. It’s a nice break after your climb and before you get to Crawford’s Path. The hike to the Hut is a little over a mile. Mizpah Hut does offer lodging, bathrooms, drinking water and food at mealtimes. There is a location for tent camping, too. The hut takes reservations for lodging then its a first come, first serve. If you are using the Mizpah Hut plan accordingly.
After our little break at the hut, we continued on the Mizpah Cutoff for 0.7 miles until we connected with Crawford’s Path. Again, this trail is rather easy and it can be a bit wet.
Once you hit, Crawford’s Path it is 1.9 miles to Rt. 302. Crawford’s Path is pretty rocky. The climb down can be a bit rough depending on how tired you legs are. When you reach Gibbs Fall, you still have 0.2 miles to the end of the trail. Crawford’s Path ends/starts across the street from the parking lot of the Highland Center.
This was a longer loop, 7.83 miles, than what was planned, but its a very nice climb and walk down. The Mizpah Hut is a location for hikers to regroup and meet up on the trail. Below is the loop, we took. You can see the distance between where we started at the Webster -Jackson Trail and where we ended, Crawford’s Path, is not that far apart. We parked at the Highland Center, since we knew we were going to use their facility.
The summer is in full-swing in our household. I am sure each of you have your own way to kick off summer. Our family it starts with the first family hike of the season. This year we started with Mount Moosilauke.
Mount Moosilauke is found on the western most part of the White Mountains in Brenton, New Hampshire. There are multiple paths up to her bald summit that gives you a wonderful 360 view of the land below and other mountain ranges. That is as long as it is a clear day, if not enjoy the workout and plan to come back on a clear day.
We travelled up the Gorge Brook Trail to the summit. It is the steeper trail and a more direct route from the Ravine Lodge. If you want a nice walk up and down take the Snapper Trail and Carriage Road. The summit is worth the climb, but those two paths are not too hard on the legs. The Beaver Brook Trail per topology maps and word-of-mouth is steeper and more problematic because of cascades. We have not taken that path, but will be later this summer.
The loop (see below) is about 8 miles or for those that need to be exact is it 7.9 miles.
The Gorge Brook Trail and Snapper Trail to Carriage Road start in the same location and follow the same trail for a bit then the Gorge Brook Trail breaks to the right while the Snapper trail continues straight forward.
You will have some brook crossings with log bridges over most of them are before you turn right to travel up the Gorge Brook Trail. The only concern is that some of the hand rails are loose, so don’t lean on them too hard.
Shortly, after making the turn onto Gorge Brook Trail, a gentleman coming down the mountain was so excited to see that we were carrying our daughter up the mountain. He had to take a picture of us to show his wife. He did not think she would believe him when he told her that he passed a family carrying a toddler up the mountain. He snapped a picture, wished a safe and great hike and we were on our way. It’s amazes me how unique the hiking/climbing/mountaineering family is always friendly, helpful and well wishing.
We enjoyed the Gorge Brook trail until we were slightly below the “Last Sure Water” (see trail map above), which is at elevation 3,300 feet the path is ‘out’ for certain hikers. I think it is about half a football field south of the sign. It looks like the path was lost to a land slide or tree going down or some combo of both. My husband made it across the path using a rock jutting out from the side. I think anyone that is not carrying a toddler or heavy weight shouldn’t have any issue with the cross.
Here is the sign for “Last Sure Water” and the near by Memorial of Ross McKenney Frost
I made it passed the land slide area by climbing up and around. My safety means the safety for our daughter, so that was an easy decision. My husband did double back to check the area near the land slide to make sure the trees were in place in case I lost my footing. Unless, there is an extremely hard rain before hand traveling up the path 10 to 20 paces and crossing over a downed tree will do.
There was a couple behind us that caught up to us at the landslide point. They looked like they were in their mid to later twenty. My husband let them know it was passable, but to use caution. The female asked, why I was up off the path. My husband just simply said, ‘Well she carrying our daughter up the mountain.’ The woman gave the look of wonder and passed the landslide like my husband and the male went up and around like me. Until, the Dartmouth Outing Club fixes the path do what you think is best and safety for you.
Shortly, after the “Last Sure Water” marker you will face the harder part of the trail that most say is strenuous or extremely strenuous. I would suggest a quick rest before carrying on. There is plenty of room at this spot for whatever you need. What lies ahead is a bit more work than what you just completed. There are not many good spots like this one until you make it to a clearing area near the summit. The incline increases greatly with a rocky path for about a mile or so. During this time, my suggestion is to keep moving, stay focused and take your breaks when you need them. You are only 1,500 and change to the summit and it is so worth it. You will do a small handful of switchbacks to help with the incline but most of it is rock.
One of the incline rock pathway…
Our quick break moment captured:
If you have not summited up the Gorge Brook Trail don’t be fooled by the bald area that is not the summit. This is a great area to break if you need to, but keep in mind that the summit is just through the alpine shrubs and up a little bit.
Follow the cairns to the alpine shrub and just keep walking until the next clearing … look up a bit and you will see the summit. Yes, you are that close.
Here are views from close to the summit.
It maybe about a quarter-mile from breaking the alpine shrub to the summit. There are numerous places to rest, have lunch and recoup before the climb down. Many people do camp at the top of this mountain. Enjoy your accomplishment, the views and take it all in. Most people travel down the Gorge Brook Tail. We passed 4 groups and 3 singles going down the Gorge from summit after taking the Snapper/Carriage trail up. One group did the Gorge Brook trail up and down.
We like the work hard upfront, rest and then take an easy path down. Keep in mind, I am traveling down and up with now 45-55 lbs on my back and it moves around. Controlling down on a steep decline on tired legs takes a lot both mentally and physically. I know I can do it, but I am not one to do so when there is a safer way.
Here are some images from the summit, which was pretty busy with hikers enjoying their lunches and rest. The night campers had left, we saw a few coming down while we were going up.
We were informed that the summit sign was stolen and the college would be replacing it. Until then you will see the simple paper stuck to the wood. The flag was being carried back down the mountain that day.
Here are some views from the summit.
We were glad to reach the summit and feel the nice breeze come across the mountain top. I was even happier to finally get a break and allow our daughter to get out and walk around. Our break and lunch was about 30 or so minutes. Many stayed longer, but we wanted to be starting back down before nap time. This time the descent was not a nap time filled quiet descent. Instead it was full of two year old talk and noise making. Oh, well… you can’t win the all.
The descent down the carriage path to the south peak is what I would call perfect for tired legs and a first hike of the season. In fact, the descent was one of the easiest I have done since I started hiking several years ago. It is a little longer, but you know the rule you descend faster then you climb. The path down is again a bit rocky, but nothing like the Gorge Path. It’s filled with small rocks and a few step downs from rock to rock, but overall simple.
You will need to keep an eye for the sign to turn left onto the Snapper Trail and back to the Ravine Lodge. The Snapper Trail is pretty much a ‘dirt’ path with roots and some rocks. Again, simple. Before you know it, you will be back to the junction of Gorge Brook Trail crossing the final two log bridges and climbing back up to the trailhead or stopping off at the lodge.
Our hike time was 6 hours from the car up the mountain back to the car that includes our breaks and time on the summit. It’s a beautiful hike, well-kept trails and worth the sweat of climbing up.
Only thing now is to plan our next hike this weekend.
This is probably one of the most important pieces of equipment you will purchase for hiking with toddler.
We purchased two types, the Ergo Baby and the Deuter, Kid Comfort II. We used the Ergo Baby for when our little one was 13 months and under. It was the winter, when she was one year old. The comfort of being close was good for her, but we NEVER passed 4 miles in a day. Longer hikes, you need something stronger with more storage and frankly for us hiking with an infant, should be done with caution. Again, that’s my family and my own views.
We will start with the Deuter, Kid Carrier II…. AKA Toddler Carrier (in our view)
My advice is for you and your hiking partner to try on as many carriers as possible and do your research on each. I suggest going to a specialized retail store for outdoor activities. We found our carrier at Eastern Mountain Store (EMS), in fact, we do ALL of our outdoor purchases through them. (I am not an employee or receive any sort of endorsement from them). We have found their service and knowledge is well above any of their competitors. We found this out during our first trip into their store. Our first purchase was our Deuter Kid Comfort II. At the EMS store we went to they have a wonderful and knowledgable sales employee that actually went to a “class” where she was able to bring her child test out the carriers and learn about each of them. This knowledge was extremely helpful when purchasing our carrier.
As a side note, coming from the retail world, I was excited to hear that from her. It’s an another reason we stick with EMS. It benefits so many, not just the gross profit line, but for consumer’s buck, too. I have always recommend them for any employee interested in a specialized area or just wanting to learn. Overall, it was about passing along knowledge to the consumer to help them make the best purchase for their needs — not what our retail store wanted. Back on track….
It is really a good idea to have your hiking partner and your toddler with you when trying on packs. Most places have a dummy doll that will simulate your toddler, but there nothing like doing it for real. Seeing how your toddler sits in the pack and moves in the pack is helpful. A dummy just doesn’t seem to make those moves. Yes, they will react in some manner. Most likely on the scared side. It’s outside their norm, so bare with it. Do it after nap time or well before nap time. It’s definitely a stressful time for them and our little one as been in a carrier since she was brought home. Two Dogs, a husband that travels and no nanny nor family in the area makes child carrying a must unless you don’t like getting things done. But that’s another story….
We went with the Deuter, Kid Comfort II…. here is why…(the below image is the carrier)
1) The seat where your child will sit is the largest of all carrier. What does this mean for your child? It simple, their legs will not lose circulation as quickly as they would with other carriers. No matter what carrier you choose, you will need to schedule breaks for your child to come out of the carrier and walk around. When doing so, keep in mind, they need a little time to get their legs situated to stand/walk. In the beginning, the process maybe a little out of sync, but you will learn to read your child needs as you take more and more breaks. Just think of your most recent long lecture, boring meeting that would never end, you probably got to adjust yourselves, especially your legs. In a carrier, your toddler doesn’t, so give them a little time. 🙂
2) The carrier has a very large storage pocket under the child. Please, view the picture above to see lower storage.
I guess it depends on what and how you pack. It’s a big pocket, though. Here is what we can pack inside this pocket; 4 to 6 diapers, a pack of all natural Huggies wipes, 2 adult long sleeve tops, 2 adult pair of socks, 1 pair of child socks, 1 long sleeve shirt, 1 winter/wind pants and 1 jacket to fit a 22 month old, the Deuter KC Rain Cover, first aid kit for both a child and an adult and a hand towel. I would say that pocket can handle a bit. If you pack smartly you can pack for at least 3 to 6 day trip.
3) There is a location for a 2L water bladder. We use a camel back model. Deuter does not seem to have a bladder designed for this carrier or at least not that we could have locally. It’s great because you can use it, but so can you child. However, we purchased a 1.5L waist camel back that we attached to the back of the Deuter that is just for our child. Again, we plan for the worse case so the more water the better. We found in the summer, the 2L bladder was empty by the end of a 8 to 10 mile hike. This does not leave room for error. So, we created a way to make it work for us. The design of the Deuter allowed us to make this adaptation without compromising the structural safety of the carrier. It helps that my hiking partner is an engineer.
4) With the purchase of the Deuter Kid Comfort II you receive a sunshade and a rain cover. Along with a cute little teddy bear for your toddler. The latter was a nice gesture, but the first is what’s important. Unfortunately, the rain cover given is not the same as the KC Rain cover. The difference is that the KC Rain Cover is a full length cover while the given cover just covers the upper body of your child.
Here is the Deuter KC Rain Cover AKA Full Cover.
This cover we have used as a wind shield, too. During, one of your hikes in the Franconia Notch, NH (up to Little Haystack, to Mt. Lincoln to Mt. Lafayette and down) we found this very help, bc it was windy walking along the ridge. Here is one picture from the hike…
Little one is napping during a break, which happened to be on the summit of Little Haystack. She slept through us placing on the cover. Here is us on Mt. Lafayette…
The picture below is the sunshade, which you will be given with the purchase of the Kid Comfort II. You will need this attachment whether you use the KC Rain Cover or the given rain cover with purchase. The sun shade is great for those hikes above the tree line during the summer, but do not forget to apply sun screen. Also, for some light rain.
Below is the rain cover given with purchase. As you can see, the toddler’s upper body is covered, but their legs are exposed.
5) From the pictures above, you can see the amount of extra pockets to carry additional items. You can place all your items you will need readily available. Here is what we have handy snacks, bug repellent, surveying tape, our little ones hat and sunglass and sun screen. Our child has learned to reach the side pockets for her snacks when she is hungry. In addition, there are numerous areas to place d-links. We use our d-links for our emergency whistle, items for our little one to play with, a compass, my hat, a GPS tracker and other smaller items that are helpful to carry within arms reach.
6) There is a small pocket on your waist belt AKA hip fin pocket. I place chap stick, a cell phone, an extra set of keys and a mirror. The latter I have found to be extremely helpful. The mirror allows me to check on my child whenever I need, too. Also, it gives my child a chance to see me whenever she wants without having to dismount her. We have had numerous conversation with looking into the mirror. This idea is similar to one you may use your car. Here is a picture from our Bald Face hike with me and our little one talking using the mirror.
7) There is a place for your child to rest their head. This fleece piece can be removed for washing. It’s a quick pull and into the washer machine it goes. To place it back on, just line up the velcro pieces. It can’t get any easier than that!
8) Its padded! I mean very well padded. I was surprised by the difference when testing out carriers. Deuter took the time to pad it and make it breathable. The EMS employee even got to see the material of the padding, which is one of her reasons for going with this pack, too. This is helpful, because it’s the barrier between you, your child, your water and weight. The weight is more on the weight belt, but there nothing like padding on your hiking pack.
While we are talking about the weight, on the shoulder straps, there is an adjustment, called stabilizer straps, make sure these straps are pulled tightly. We found that is most comfortable for us. It makes the pack closer to your back, but the weight will still be on your waist belt. If its loose, I have found that I feel as though my pack is pulling me backwards. Definitely, not the direction we want to go!
No matter what breathable material and system your pack has to create a movement of air, you will sweat. The padding and system made for air flow doesn’t mean you will not get wet from sweat, but without it…. I am not sure I even want to think about what it would be like.
9) It has the 5-point harness strap. The same idea used in your toddler’s car seat is applied here. Connect them all, make them snug on your child. This doesn’t mean he/she will not shift in the pack, but they will be safely in the pack and staying in the pack.
10) The pack can handle up to 48lbs, which 40lbs of a child. This is great because it gives you the chance to hike quite a bit. In other words, you are getting your money’s worth.
Lastly, please, remember if you go with the Deuter. ALWAYS, ALWAYS have the shoulder restraint going through FOUR loops. See, the image below, the red arrow shows you the loops, I am speaking about. This is also where you can adjust the height of the pack. It’s great, because you do not have to dismount your child to make adjustments. I guess that would be reason number 11. This is great for when you switch, who is carrying your toddler. But, no excuses FOUR loops. It’s the safest for the amount of weight of your pack that includes your child.
Up next, I will review our Ergo Baby carrier, why we went with it for shorter hikes when your little one was younger and other ways we used the carrier. To clarify now, we use only the Deuter Kid Comfort II for all our hikes. Our toddler loves the pack and knows what it means. She gets excited to go in it…… that makes the cost priceless.
There are numerous items to consider when hiking with an infant or toddler. The ranking of an importance is based on each unique family. My family and your family are different, but there are general needs that I hope this article will help to get your family better prepared for your hike. This article is not meant to scare or derail a family from hiking with their child or children. There are many things to consider before heading out the door to climb a mountain and each item should be weighed and considered in detail.
Depending on where you hike, your pack load will be different. My family has hiked in New Hampshire along the White Mountains and Kangamangus, in Virginia in the Shenandoah region, on various plane crashes off untraditional marked paths, and the Black Mountains of NC. I am sure the west coast of the US and other areas, such as, in the Colorado Mountains, the conditions are different. Each area has its own obstacles. I am writing this article based on the worst weather and terrain changes that we have faced throughout our hiking. As a parent and for our family, we plan for the worse case scenario. I hope it will never come to pass, but we rather be prepared for it than not. Without further adieu… let’s get down to business.
First item to consider, if you are a single parent, who will be your hiking partner. Hiking alone with an infant or toddler carries the same classic precautions as SCUBA diving alone. In other words, it is not advisable to do so. There are too many variables that can take place and doing it alone the probably of error is higher. Without a partner, you and/or your child’s survival is at stake. For example, in the White Mountains, the weather can change in an instant, it can and has snowed in August. Also, hiking above the alpine zone, which various by location can make weather conditions worse and terrain more difficult to navigate.
The next question to answer is who will be carrying the child and any additional items in that pack? This is not a gender topic. This is a question of what works best for your child. In our family, I, the mother, carry our child. My child needs to be close to me and we can communicate without seeing each other, but our child needs to see her father. You can always change who carries them, but for us mom does the carrying up and down the mountain. It’s what serves our child’s needs the best. And as her mother, I am physically fit to carry her, which brings me to the next item to consider.
Fitness. How in-shape are you and your hiking partner? You do not have to be a pro athlete, endurance fanatic or a gym rat, but you can’t decide to hike up a side of mountain with your child on your back after spending years on the couch or at your desk staring at the computer screen. I say you can’t, but there are those that have and I am sure there will be more. I am 100% sure the few days after the hike they are in some pain. Hiking with an infant or toddler is strenuous activity, its nothing like running a few times around the block or walking around the neighborhood. There are many trails where you will be walking over roots, crossing over a stream/river/brook, stepping up on rocks, walking on rock facings and at times rock scrambling. It is tough work and if anything happens you need to be prepared to care for the situation. Being in shape helps make the whole hiking experience more enjoyable.
Being in shape is part of the battle. You will need to be familiar with your trail understanding the Hiking Terrain Terminology and color codes in very helpful. This will assist you in making informed decision about what paths to take and the ones to avoid. Those contour lines are not to make the map look pretty. The closer they are together the steeper it is. Always bring a printed map of your hike along with you in a plastic zip lock bag or another map protector, in case it rains and to help protect it against your sweat. Yup, you will sweat.
Always pack two First Aid kit. One for the adults and one for your child. Hiking with your child means carrying band aids, gauges, medical tape, etc. that fits them. In addition to the kits, pack Tylenol, Motrin, or Advil with dosing instructions for your child’s age and weight. When you are tired and hungry, dosing instructions may be hard to remember. Don’t forget to pack any prescription medication, always pack an extra day or two. Winter hiking usually means a longer rescue period than that of the summer. Pack a blanket incase one is injured. Pack a compass, as in, the old fashion type, know how to make one, and if possible a GPS made for hiking. But do not strictly rely on your GPS device. One item I highly recommend, is RoadID, the information carried on it makes any rescue much easier. For its cost, membership and number of lives it has saved — Definitely, worth it. Several of these items, I will address further in a later.
Since, we are talking about planning. Let’s discuss the topic of planning what to pack for your child. This depends on the age of your toddler. For example, an infant cannot regulate their own body temperature which means you need to pack various types of clothing for them. Keep in mind, the higher you climb the cooler the weather becomes and the longer the trip. If your hike takes you into the Alpine Zone you will most likely be above the tree line where dwarf trees and other smaller plans live, so you and your child will be exposed to the wind, rain/snow and the sun. This means plan to pack sunscreen and probably a long sleeve shirt and pants to guard against a sunburn and wind burn. I suggest packing clothing that can dry quickly if wet and clothes that will help keep your child warm. Again, be cautious and prepared for the worst weather in the hiking region.
In addition to clothing and the basics, water and food, you will need to pack diapers and wipes. Yes, that means changing a diaper on a rock, bed of leaves, dirt area, etc. So, what do you really need? Let me answer, your question by opposing a few other questions. Honestly, how good of a diaper changer are you? Does your child get an upset tummy easy when stressed? How long is your hike and how many diapers does your child go through in 8-12 hours? By answering those questions, you can pack to what fits your family the best. I have at least a day and a half worth of diapers depending the length, terrain and season of the hike. As for wipes, we carry with us a “travel case” full of them or one of those portable ones you find at local grocery or drug store. Wipes are so versatile so its great to have extra. Since, we change our little one anywhere we find an open area we do not carry a mat sometimes we use a packed towel or jacket depending on the open area. Lastly, there are no trash cans on a hiking trail and I do not recommend littering. So, placing the diaper in something you can carry down the mountain is helpful. We use a Glad kitchen bag scented with Febreze for trash we create.
I know what you are thinking, where are you going to pack all this and carry our child. There are numerous kid carriers with room to store items and some have water bladders. I suggest getting into a store that specializes in child carrying and outdoor activities or at a place that meets one of those requirements. This is a topic that requires its own article, which is what I will write about next. Choose your carrier wisely, know what type of hiker you are or one that you plan to become. No matter what, make sure you test out as many as you can, put your child into each one and place each one on the carrier(s). Make sure to walk around the store to test it out, bend down a few times, step up and step down if you can.
No matter the brand of carrier you go with, you will need to make a few extra stops along the way. All carriers at a certain point will cause some sort of circulation restriction for you child. It’s always good to stop and let them out to stretch and walk around. Plus, it will give you a break and time to recoup. This means adding some extra time on your hike. You will be happy you planned for it. Also, make sure you add some extra time if you plan to summit, so everyone can enjoy what you all have accomplished. Take some pictures!
Lastly, a few items to consider for the end of the hike and the day after. Pack your car with a change of clothes for everyone. There is nothing like a fresh clean clothes after a hike that includes comfy shoes. Plus, a diaper or two. Keep a cooler with water and snacks for the end of the hike. Depending on your drive back home, pack a thermos with coffee or tea. Before you leave for your hike, I recommend stocking the frig with healthy foods. Your body will need to recover and heal itself, keeping healthy foods loaded with vitamins, proteins, fats, etc. will help during your recovery time.Your recovery time is directly related to your fitness level. Again, this is based on the length and terrain of your hike. But without doubt, comfy shoes are a must.
These are a few items of a long list that should be considered when hiking with your infant/toddler. Each and every family is different and so is every hike, but we all love of child/children, we want the best for them and want to be around when they are older. Hiking comes with its own risks. There are various rescues made throughout the year, so take the time to plan your hike. Plan for worst case scenario in every area. You may hike 100 times before the worst comes true…. at least you will be prepared.
In closing, Conrad Anker, said it best about George Mallory’s climb to summit Everest in 1924, but it is something we all as hikers and climbers should take to heart…..”being a good climber is knowing when you’re at too much of a risk and it’s time to turn back.” No hike nor climb is worth a life. There is always tomorrow. I say that with a handful of hikes in which we turned back due to weather, injury, an upset child, fatigue or difficulty. We were disappointed, but were able to redo the hike.