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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Welch-Dickey Trail

Three monkeys about to hit the trail

About a month ago, Drea & I took Syd on her first mountain hike.  A month later, and I had finally convinced the boys that this was something for them to try.

So, as part of our camping getaway to Waterville, I had decided to take them on the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail.  I had never hiked it, but it is “the single-most “suggested” family hike in the White Mountains.”  So, I made sure to introduce them properly.  They all brought their own backpacks, and they carried their own water, snacks, sandwiches, and sweatshirts.

It was a gorgeous morning, in the low 70’s, when arrived at the trail head around 10:30 am.  We started the loop as the trail name suggests and headed towards Welch Mountain first.  As soon as it started, the kids all had to do their first stream crossing.  They got very excited to hop the rocks across the stream.  The trail was well manicured, with many waterbars, and rocks/trees placed as stairs up the moderate slope.  It was certainly a far cry from the weathered conditions of the Sandwich Mountain Trail.

I was really uncertain as to how Brady was going to do on this hike.  He is only 5, and I was daring to take him on a 4.4 mile hike.  Now, he had done a 3.5 mile hike with me when we camped in Burlingame, at the beginning of the summer.  But, walking along a flat trail is completely different than taking him up a mountain, even if it is relatively small mountain.  His pace was certainly slow.  But, after all, he does have tiny legs!  But, he wasn’t complaining.  And, more importantly, he was having fun!

Hiking on granite... heading to the summit of Welch

I had misread the guide, and a sign posted as we came upon our first overlook.  It is a large rocky ledge, that has islands of low vegetation that they are trying to protect.  The sign urged you to stay on the rock & trails on the way to the Welch summit.  So, when we arrived, I mistakenly told the kids that it was the first summit. Oops.  They knew they were going to get to two summits.  This would come into play later.

At any rate, we took a break, had a snack and took a bunch of photos.  The view was really nice, with Sandwich Mountain directly in front of us, Waterville Valley up the road, and the NH hills stretching towards the south.  Beautiful spot.

We then started the next leg of the hike.  The first portion had been in the woods, rock covered and rooted.  The second portion was made up of long sections of  granite which would frequently cause you to walk on all fours.  It was fun, but certainly more challenging & steeper than the first section.  And, it was wearing on the kids.  They were getting tired.  And, by the time we reached the summit… they were dragging!

As I started looking around, I began to laugh.  I had made a mistake.  The previous outlook we had, was not a summit at all.  This was the summit of Welch Mountain.  Dickey’s summit was a short distance away.  It was so clear.  It was a few hundred yards downhill & then another few hundred yards back up to the summit of Dickey.  Oops!

But, Zack was incredulous.  He kept trying to tell me that I told them we were only going to the tops of two mountains.  In his mind, this was the second & he had no interest in going to a third.  It took quite a bit of convincing to let him know that I had made a mistake.

We stayed there for a while recovering, eating sandwiches, and enjoying the views.  For a mountain dwarfed by it’s neighbors, (Sandwich 3980′, Techumseh 4000+’) the summit of Welch Mountain (2605′) has a impressive 360˙ views.

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On the Summit of Welch. Dickey is looming immediately behind us (to the right). Moosilauke is hulking in the distance

Once I convinced the kids that it was time to move on to the next summit, I was met with a little trepidation as the first few steps off the summit of Welch are a bit steep.  It took the kids a few steps to realize that they weren’t going to fall off the rocks, and then they realized that going down the trail can be quite a bit of fun.  Z started to charge ahead, while Syd took her time, and I hung back with Brady.

There was a large Cairn marking the division between Welch & Dickey mountains, and the ascent started immediately after passing it.  It was a moderate ascent with a couple of challenging sections where you’d have to pull yourself up on rocks.  But, it was short.  Zack got a blast of energy just before the summit and began to charge ahead again, eager to get back to the descent.  As a result, we kind of blew over Dickey’s summit.  Syd & I had noticed a ridge line of cairns looking towards Mount Techumseh, but could not see a direct way to get there.  And, the kids weren’t really interested in extra bush-whacking, they only had thoughts of heading down.  So, I’ll have to keep that in mind for next time… I’m curious about that.

The top third of the descent from Dickey was on large sections of granite with cairns marking the way.  I was somewhat surprised at how exposed we were to the sun & for how long.  The kids legs were showing the signs of being tired as each of them took a turn with a fall here and there.  Thankfully, Syd was the only one to fall on the granite ledge, and she bounced off just fine.  The boys didn’t really start getting tripped up until we were back in the woods.  They each slipped on loose gravel or tripped over the occasional root.  But, no fall was serious.

I started bribing Brady with a victory ice cream cone once we completed the hike, if he would complete it without whining.  The bribe worked.  Before we knew it, we were back at the trail head.  And, I was one proud Dad that my boys completed their first mountain hike & that we all completed it together.

The most important thing is that they all had fun.  They enjoyed it & actually want to do it again in the future.  They all thought the views were cool.  I can’t wait to drag their butts back out there!

Their reward for a great hike!

—–Hike Stats—–

  • Date: 8/26/11
  • Elevation: 2734
  • Elev Gain: 1600
  • Mileage: 4.4
  • Trails: Welch-Dickey Loop Trail
  • Time: 5 hours
  • Companion(s): The Kidlets
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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Hiking

 

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Jesus Loves You

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Jesus loves me?

I’d believe it a hell of a lot more if it was pronounced “Hey-sus.” (I’ve always been a bit of a gay magnet.)

But, given the context, I’m guessing it is the “Gee-sus” version. And, you felt so strongly about that idea that you just HAD to carve it into the bricks of this establishment. How very Christian of you. Seems the best way to spred the word is to vandalize someone else’s property.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Random

 

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Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene blew through New England, yesterday. The kids & I holed up with Drea at her place. Although some areas were hit hard, Waltham didn’t feel the affects too badly. In fact, for much of the day, we had the windows cracked.

Around 4pm, it had mostly passed, & I decided to survey the damage go to the liquor store.  And, lo and behold, I found this to be the extent of the damage in the area.

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The extent of Hurricane Irene's Damage - Click photo for more detail



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That’s right.  A single leaf plastered to the side of the van.  I wonder if insurance will cover it.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Random

 

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Sandwich Mountain

This post is being done out of order. I have two weekend recaps to do, but they require much more emotional energy & time than this summit log.

Drea & I snuck away to go camping in Waterville Valley, NH for a couple of days. During that trip, we decided to hike Sandwich Mountain.

Sandwich Mountain holds a dear place in my heart. It was my first mountain hike, and the mountain I have, undoubtedly, climbed the most. My family vacationed in Waterville over many summers. For some reason, I kept going back to Sandwich for the same hike. As a result, I know the mountain fairly well & when it came to making a decision as to what to hike, it seemed almost natural to choose to do this with Drea.

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Drea hanging on for dear life

After paying the parking fee, we started the hike about 10:30 am. It was warm (high 70’s) & humid at the base. I had told Drea a few times, that most of this hike’s elevation gain is done in the first 1.2 miles on its approach to Noon Peak. But, saying it, and doing it are two totally different things.

Once past the electric station, the trail comes over a short rise to come down an embankment to Drakes Brook. After a bit of rock hopping, we were across Drakes Brook, and the trail began its steep ascent.  There really is no chance for a warm up.  This hike throws  you into it & it does not let up.  Both of us were getting beat down by the slope, but also by the humidity.  I know I said it was humid at the base, but that was a huge understatement.  Both of were dripping with sweat within a quarter mile.  Drea also hadn’t slept well the night before and she was definitely dragging on the last 1/4 mile (which might also be the steepest) of the approach to Noon.  Despite my warnings about the strenuous nature of the first 1.2 miles, she was definitely surprised at how intense it was.

However, we made it in just under an hour and took a well deserved rest on the rocky outcropping of Noon Peak.  We rested, soaked up some sun, rehydrated, and ate plums.  After 20-30 mins, we packed up and began heading up the trail again.  She was doubting that the rest of the hike would be “a walk in the park” as I was describing it.  Her exact words, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

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View from Noon Peak of Waterville Valley sitting at the foot of Mount Osceola

We continued on & headed up the gradual path towards Jennings Peak.  At the trail junction with the Drakes Brook Trail, we ran into an older woman and her two dogs that we had seen in the parking area.  We talked with her & the dogs for a few minutes and began the debate as to whether to continue on, or just head down.  To Drea’s credit, she wanted to persevere on to the summit.  I’m pretty sure the easier ascent, and the site of that older woman ahead of us, helped give us the energy boost we both needed to press on.

Shortly after, we passed the side trail to Jennings Peak and decided to skip that peak and just get to the summit.  We then over took the older woman, and then another couple that we had seen in the parking area.  Our pace had definitely increased.  When we reached the summit, there were another couple of guys enjoying the view.  When they found out we had ascended via the Sandwich Mtn Trail rather than the Drakes Brook Trail, they were blown away.  They asked, “Isn’t that really steep??”  Drea confided that she never thought she would have made it to the summit while she was on that portion of the trail.  I could only smile.  Proud that she did.  Proud that we did.  Happy to just be there.

After enjoying lunch, we began our descent.  Drakes Brook Trail meanders along much of the brook.  It was certainly nice to have the calming tones of the moving water with us.   And, there were definitely some spots that were almost daring us to wade into.  But, in the end, the allure of heading for a victory ice cream treat was too much and we continued on.   There was also something on this trail that we did not have at all on the way up… a breeze!  It felt so good!   After rock hopping across the brook one last time, we made our way back to the parking lot.  Another successful hike for us.  And, one more off my list of the New England 100 Highest.

Enjoying the views from Noon Peak

I have to say, that I am grateful that Noon Peak was my first ever mountain hike, and the mountain I repeatedly climbed growing up.  It is a strenuous climb.  It was what I knew to be mountain hiking.  So, any hike that has come after that, I’ve expected to expend the same level of intensity.  I think it was much better to earn my stripes there then on an “easy” mountain trail.  So, as much as my dad did not know that he was doing me a favor, I feel like I should say, “Thanks for bringing me there to hike, Dad.”

—–Hike Stats—–

  • Date: 8/20/11
  • Elevation: 3980
  • Elev Gain: 2620
  • Mileage: 8.5
  • Trails: Up: Sandwich Mountain Trail — Down: Sandwich -> Drakes Brook Trail
  • Time: 5 hours
  • Companion(s): Drea
  • NE100 #68

* *Note:  We were technology deficient this weekend.  Neither of us had charged are camera batteries.  Drea’s iPhone died over night.  And, mine died as soon as we got to the summit.  As a result, we only had these few iPhone pics of our hike.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2011 in Hiking

 

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Airborne Toxic Event @ The Met

I had bought tix to see the Airborne Toxic Event as soon as they had gone on sale. And… then, I forgot about it. Thankfully, I remembered a day or so before the show. So, I told Drea that I was dragging her to the show. To say she was excited, would have been a huge exaggeration. In her mind, she was only going to recognize one or two songs. But, she was a trooper & came along with me.

We walked in as the opening band was finishing up. Grabbed a couple of beers and found a comfortable spot… or what we thought would be a comfortable spot. As ATE hit the stage, I quickly realized that I was standing next to the most awkward giant white boy ever. At some point he had been wearing Adidas sandals. But, now instead of on his feet, they were heel first in his rear pockets. Because that half inch of height savings would really make a difference on his 6’10” frame. The large dirty rubber/foam pieces hanging out of his pockets, brushing up against unsuspecting passerby’s & catching purses. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his idea of dancing was pretty much exaggerated hip thrusts. Even though I was standing about 3 feet behind him, his fucking sandals were still somehow able to brush up against me. If that wasn’t bad enough, he would lock his fingers behind his head, and position his elbows skyward, which only served to make his frame about 8′ tall now. As you can imagine, I really fucking hated this guy. We stayed there for about 4-5 songs before the urge to shank this giant became almost too much to resist.

So, we moved. And, found a spot more in the center of the stage, not blocked by any human giants. But, this afforded me a view of a different type of fan. We stood amongst three other couples. All dancing and singing at the top of their lungs… actually, only the men were singing at the top of their lungs. The women, were dancing and having a good time. And then, it happened. As ATE performed one of their hits (could have been “Changes,” but I don’t specifically remember right now), the three men began to embrace, jump up and down, and sing the song to each other, in some sign of homo-erotic frat boy solidarity. This behavior is inexplicable to me. It’s also one of the many reasons, I never joined a fraternity.

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Really crappy iPhone pic

Meanwhile on the stage, ATE was crushing it. I have enjoyed their CD’s for quite some time. But, live… they are fucking great. They sounded polished. You could easily see them in some stadium like setting with a full blown light/effects show going on behind them. Instead, we were watching them in a venue that fits about 350 people. They plowed through a nice long set that included all of their hits & pretty much any song that any fan would know, leaving me to wonder what in the world they would play for their encore. Drea admitted she was surprised at how many songs she knew. She had just not realized who sang them.

Their encore started with 3/5 of the band playing a percussion beat, then kicking into a tune that rocked, but that I don’t think I recognized. They then covered The Clash’s “I Fought the Law,” Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” & a Johnny Cash tune (blanking on which one). Each song was set to their own pace, the Cash & Springsteen songs were sped up into rocking tunes, and the place went wild.

We had a great time, and I was glad Drea agreed/wanted to come along. She admitted to me, even before our first non-date, that live music wasn’t necessarily her thing. Yet, she has come along to a number of shows for bands that she did not really know (Spoon, Bim, & ATE stand out), because she knows how much I love it. I can’t really express how much that means to me.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2011 in Music

 

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Bim Skala Bim @ Johnny D’s Uptown Cafe

I am so far behind in my blog posts. I am going to attempt to catch up over the next week or so (while squeezing in a camping trip with the kidlets that will, of course, have me away from the computer some more).

20110823-021640.jpgAnyway, on July 29th, I had plans to meet up with Brian & Carrie in Cambridge to catch Bim Skala Bim. (Drea was under the weather and decided to bail on the show.)

Bim is an old favorite of ours. A great Boston ska band that is mostly on hiatus. The lead singer, Dan Vitale, now lives in Costa Rica or something – makes it a bit hard for a band to play together. However, for the last two years or so, they have been doing some mini-reunion tours. I had been lucky enough to catch one of their original reunions opening for the Bosstones during one of their Hometown Throwdown dates at House of Blues in 2009. Six months later, they were playing a mini tour, and I caught them at Jerky’s in Providence. Now, a year later, I’m coming back for more!

What I hadn’t realized was that this was the 25th anniversary of the release of their debut album. As a result, they brought out as many of the original band members as possible. They cranked through a set of their more popular tunes. Took a break. And, then came back on for another set that rocked each song from that debut album.

It was a great show. Good dancing (probably some bad dancing too). Great friends. Fun night. Can’t ask for much more.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2011 in Music

 

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How the “H-E-double hockey sticks” did I get here?

**you know you’re fucked up when you combine a happy memory & a horrible life moment into one post.**

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2011 in Random

 

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