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Mt. Tecumseh 7/7/09

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  • Mt. Tecumseh 7/7/09

    Day 1: Tuesday, July 7, 2009
    Drive and hike Mt. Tecumseh (4003’)

    · Early Saratoga departure (6:00 AM)
    Drive to New Hampshire – breakfast in Woodstock, Vt.
    Drive to Mt. Tecumseh trail head parking @ ski area
    · Hike Mt. Tecumseh
    · Return to Gilcrest Cottages (freshen-up)
    · Dinner @ local restaurant
    · Return to Gilcrest Cottages, re-supply and pack for the next hike day

    Day 1 Hike Totals: (kcal: 3,170)
    5.0 miles, 2200’ ascent, 3:30 – 4:30 hrs. BT+
    Actual Hike Time – 3:37 hrs.

    Tecumseh Comments:

    I left Saratoga Springs, NY at 6:00 AM on Tuesday morning, had breakfast in Woodstock, Vermont and arrived at the Waterville Valley ski area around 11:45 AM under overcast, threatening skies. I readied my rain gear and pack cover and started walking about 12:15 PM. After five hours of sitting in a car, I was eager to stretch my legs.

    I was on the trail approximately 20 minutes when three guys passed me on their way down. I remembered an SUV in the parking lot with Connecticut license plates and I knew that Bruce and Jim were from Connecticut. I said hello to them as they passed me not knowing who they were because I had never met them and continued up the trail.

    After a few minutes I decided to call Clay on his cell phone to see if the three guys on the trail were the guys in our group. I left a message on Clay’s voicemail inquiring if I had just seen them on the Tecumseh trail and (if so) I would catch up with them later. I learned later that evening that it was them on the Tecumseh trail, but they claimed not to remember seeing me because they were “distracted”. I wonder what could have distracted them on such a dark, cold day?

    The first part of the trail was in good shape with some occasional mud. With the forest canopy and bleak weather, it was dark and gloomy in the woods. I heard the rain start and from time to time felt a drop, but I decided not to put on my rain jacket because I didn’t want to get overheated on the ascent. Besides, I was sheltered from the inclement weather by the natural umbrella of the forest.

    The trail became moderate just before descending to cross Tecumseh Brook. On the other side of the brook, there was impressive trail work with great stone stairs that had been painstakingly set in place by a hard-working trail crew.

    At the “view” signpost, rain was still falling and the opening through the trees revealed a solid wall of white fog and mist.

    At that point the rocky, old, logging-road started to ascend moderately and continued long enough to prompt a few “catch your breath stops” before the light of the sky up ahead drifted lower. I gladly sensed the top of the ridge was near.

    The ridge was a soft and welcomed respite compared to the rock hopping just completed, but it was over all too soon as the summit spur junction appeared and I was on the summit in short order. Unfortunately, there was nothing to see this day except fog, but the elevation temperature and cool wind chilled me quickly enough to initiate the descent without any summit fanfare. The return to parking was uneventful albeit more slippery than the ascent.

    So I completed the hike alone and besides seeing Clay, Bruce and Jim, I saw only three other people (from South Carolina) all bundled up in clear plastic ponchos. They looked like they were in Zip Lock Baggies. I first saw them just before the summit spur on their way down, then by the “view” sign (on my way down) and finally as I was ready to leave the parking area. I was thankful that I had seen them return safely before I left the parking lot.

    I drove to Gilcrest, checked in and met Clay, Bruce and Jim. We went to dinner at The Sunset Grill in Campton that evening, got acquainted and discussed plans and strategies for the next day and remainder of the week.

    Since they had already hiked the Osceolas on Monday, I would have to do them alone. I decided to save that “relatively easy” hike for my departure day (Saturday) after the more challenging hikes were completed. (Whiteface/Passaconaway and the Tripyramids).

    The forecast for Wednesday did not look very promising and I encouraged the group to take a day and wait for better weather toward the end of the week. Clay however, wanted a rest day on Friday as he was planning a Presidential Traverse for Saturday. Bruce had some knee issues and decided to rest on Wednesday. Jim was OK with either hiking or an R&R day. Despite my concerns about the poor forecast and the AMC warning regarding the cliff section of Whiteface being “dangerous” when wet, Clay remained steadfast with his decision to hike Whiteface and Passaconaway and Jim agreed to go with him. I consented to drive over to the trailhead (so I would be familiar with the location), assess the weather and make a decision to go or not at that time.