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.
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.”
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.
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.”
- 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.