Kearsarge North (NH) 12 August 2017

9:49 p.m. on August 12, 2017 (EDT)
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This weekend's hike was Kearsarge North, just outside N Conway NH. It's called Kearsarge North because there's another mountain named Kearsarge in NH, maybe 60 miles away in a town called Warner. That Kearsarge is approximately 2920' in elevation, while Kearsarge North is 3268'. 

The trail I took is 3.1 miles, and moderate until approximately 2 miles up. 

IMG_1699.jpgIt's not as rocky as some I've hiked, and considering I'm an old fat guy I didn't find it too terribly strenuous. Not easy by any stretch of the imagination, though! So maybe I'm getting better at this? I wanted to take more pics on the ascent but I was sweating so much that moisture got into my phone case and made the touchscreen more than a little touchy. So, into a nice dry pocket of my pack it went till I got to the summit. 

About 2 miles up it turns to ledge and starts getting steeper. There's a gap in the trees that offers a nice view.

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Near the summit a couple hiking with their dog caught up with me, and I hiked to the summit with them. He (I never got his name) was an AMC volunteer so we talked about different trails and he gave me a lot of ideas for other weekends. It's strange how when you're hiking with someone else and talking, even a more strenuous section seemed to be easier that way. I believe I'm an AMC member, if not I'll join and maybe I can get in touch with him that way. He has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of mountains and trails throughout Maine and New Hampshire. (He's standing in front of his white dog in the next pic, his wife is sitting to the left.)

There's an observation tower at the summit, in the wintertime hikers and snowshoers sleep in there. I'm definitely snowshoeing up this winter, whether or not I stay overnight will depend on whether or not I'm in good enough shape to carry a sleeping bag and pad.

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Theres a nice almost 360 degree view from the summit.

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I would have gotten more pics but apparently between the humidity and the exertion of climbing I gave myself heat exhaustion. So instead of taking beaucoup pics I sat in the shade, drank water I apparently should have drunk on the way up (I did drink about a liter on the climb), and let my boots and socks dry out. Note to self: if you're going to wear insulated mountaineering boots on a day like this, bring more than 1 extra pair of socks. They get soaked quickly. I wore my Injinji Coolmax liner toe socks, but I think my Smartwool lightweight liner socks would have handled the moisture better. I really like the Injinjis, though!

After about an hour resting and rehydrating on the summit I headed back down. I drank the last of my water about a mile down, but thankfully it was cool enough so I wasn't sweating much. Plus I had my usual 6-pack of water in the Jeep. 

A little farther down the trail, I was taking a break when a young lady named Laurel came along from the summit, we hiked to the trailhead together and talked about trails, the outdoors, our weight loss programs (she didn't look like she needed to lose any to me!), work, whatever, and it helped pass the time. As luck would have it she's married, but having a hiking partner was nice. 

I'm really enjoying these weekly hikes and wish I'd started them earlier!

7:20 a.m. on August 13, 2017 (EDT)
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Nice hike Phil! I've hiked in lightly insulated boots on a 65°F day for an RC test so I know what you mean about hot feet. Sounds like you've got those boots pretty well broken in though so maybe you can go easier on the feet for a while.

Seems like you have some good momentum building with your training and weekend hikes. You should be in great shape if we get some snow again this year. Thankfully it will be colder then, but you'll still need to deal with the sweat issues on the climbs, so don't get your hopes up about that. :)

Thanks for sharing the pics and story!

9:20 a.m. on August 13, 2017 (EDT)
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Yeah, I'm done with those boots till I actually need them for the temp & terrain. After about 5 miles of pounding on the ungiving rock and ground the balls of my feet were starting to hurt. I wish I'd sent my Fugitives out to be resoled earlier, those would be more suitable these days. Maybe I'll head to EMS or REI and try on some low hikers, too. 

I'm definitely seeing noticeable improvement almost every time I do a climb. I just have to remember that I'm 48, not 18 or 28, and that improvement will come in small but still noticeable increments. I also have a feeling that when my weight gets to a certain point the line representing my improvement will show a sharper tick upward. 

8:52 a.m. on August 14, 2017 (EDT)
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Nice Phil...One thing don't beat yourself up..You learn as you go at times..I am 50 now so I can understand about pace..I am slower than I was in my twenties.I still enjoy being out there and thats what counts...You doing great by the way...Keep having fun...

11:45 a.m. on August 14, 2017 (EDT)
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Great photos. I second Denis...you are getting out there and having fun. Everything else will follow. I feel you both as I hit 50 early next year...Vitamin I is the key for my trips along with a lighter pack that allows my bad back, knees and ankles to keep going.

1:08 p.m. on August 14, 2017 (EDT)
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I took the day off today and hiked Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton, ME today. It's my 3rd time up it, 1.8 miles and 1525' elevation gain. I made it to the summit without stopping. On July 27 I was proud to have made it to the summit of nearby Douglas Mountain without stopping, which is 1.25 miles and 518' elevation gain. I'm down 30 pounds now, my knee no longer hurts when I finish (probably due both to weight loss and strengthening of muscles & ligaments from use), and I'm a lot more confident & stable going from rock to rock on descents. It's nice to see progress!

10:46 p.m. on August 14, 2017 (EDT)
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It's when you get old that you discover if you won the genetic lottery, or not!  I am getting along in the years - 50 isn't even in my rear view mirror - and have witnessed folks who always took good care of themselves fall to the wayside, some due to just wear and tear of very physical lifestyles (I guess obesity can be included here, since one ends up hauling the equivalent of a heavy pack whenever they are on their feet), but many folks fall to degenerative ailments in part due to heredity.  I used to be very strong and extremely fit, but now crawl up trails I used to literally jog up with a 70 pound pack!  I found out I have an immune system disorder that eats away a little of my lungs each time I fall ill.  I have lost 30% of my lung capacity since my mid 20s.  Thus I had to give up high altitude (16K'+) back in the 1990s, but still manage to summit the 14ers.  Not so bad for someone whose kids get ARRP solicitations. 

Staying on top of a fitness regimen is CRITICAL to prolonging one's physical stamina.  If you fall off the wagon when you get older, you may very well never find the juice to get back up!  To that end I have different sports applicable to the seasons.  And if one's excuse is lack of time, then you need to stop coddling yourself!  When young I had to work multiple jobs to pay off a huge medical debt, the result of an accident that left me in a coma for six weeks.  By the time I had that slayed I was a family man, and then came 911, forcing me from yet another career, and ever since I have been the owner-operator of a restaurant.  And we all know what kind of hours that entails...  Meanwhile I was a cat 1 cyclist, backpacker and mountaineer.  Very busy.   But I do not intend to brag, nor seek sympathy or admiration.  I share this with all to drive home the point that our love for the outdoors is a high maintenance romance, one that requires we work like hell keeping ourselves fit, if we wish the love to last, especially as we get older.  So does anyone want to join me climbing some stairs?  That's one thousand vertical feet, per session.  Alternatively I will put in 25 - 50 miles on a bike ride that typically includes 1500' feet of climbs.  I do stairs or cycling 3 - 4 times a week.  Just make sure you get your blood pumping and muscles burning.  But I discourage running; every runner I know has been forced to hang up their shoes due to tendency of the sport to wear out knees and hips. 

Ed

11:04 a.m. on August 15, 2017 (EDT)
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Thanks for the reply, Ed, I'll address it later because it'll take longer than I have at work. 

I talked with my usual hiking/snowshoeing partner yesterday and he wanted to get a 4K in pretty soon. So, we decided on Mt Jefferson, the #3 White at 5712'. It has an awesome altitude, but elevation gain is only about 2700' over a 2.5 mile trail. Barely harder than Kearsarge North, so summitting shouldn't be a problem for me. So until we do it, my weekend hikes are all going to be in the 2500'+ elevation gain range. I'm going to weigh my pack with the gear I'll be bringing up Jefferson - mostly the same as I carry now, along with a lightweight down jacket, an extra liter or 2 of water, and extra layers if I sweat heavily or it gets chilly (definitely a possibility in the Whites in September) - and add 10lb for all my hikes till then. Then I'll be high-stepping for the real deal LOL. 

So, I'll probably do Kearsarge North again this weekend, simply because I have to do it Sunday and it's the closest one in that elevation range. Labor Day weekend I'm trying to get my brother & his kids to do Chocorua. 

4:32 p.m. on August 15, 2017 (EDT)
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Have you done the Baldface loop up on 113 Phil? Goes from roughly 500' up to 3600' for both peaks with a few hundred foot col between. Some wicked ledges on the south side and serious steep on both, but killer views up top. I did it with full pack as part of a loop over the top and into the Wild River Wilderness, but I hear it is a nice day hike :)

8:09 p.m. on August 15, 2017 (EDT)
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Ed,

I guess I'm pretty lucky as far as genetics go, my heart & lungs are strong, some degenerative cartilage loss & other damage in the knees but that's mostly due to previous injuries and carting around up to 100 extra pounds for so long. And the abuse a body takes from 12 years in the army. Lots of running there, it sure looked and sounded good with 100 feet all pounding the ground at the same time, but the pounding takes a toll. I used to LOVE to run, too! But I havent really had a runner's physique since high school. And who knows what will have happened in another 20 years? Whatever it is, I'll be doing my best to keep ahead of it, it's been so long since I've felt this good that I want to stay this way LOL.

Hitting the gym for cardio is always an option, but I think I'm doing pretty well with 2+ hour hikes at least 3 times a week. More importantly, I like - LOVE - hiking, I love pushing myself, and I don't get that enjoyment from the gym. One thing I've noticed is that I recover a lot more quickly when I hit a level stretch after a climb, 15-20 seconds and I'm back on pace. When the snow comes I'll be out snowshoeing nearly every single day that my work schedule allows for. My biggest obstacle is diet - I quit drinking soda about 5 months ago, am cutting most added sugar out of my diet, and have mostly given up grains & fast food. I've been cutting my meat portions in half and doubling the amount of veggies on my plate. But sometimes it's too easy to just throw a frozen pizza into the oven LOL. 

9:11 p.m. on August 15, 2017 (EDT)
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I haven't done Baldface, though it is on my list. That AllTrails app makes it too easy, I could probably hike a different trail every weekend for the next 6 months and not repeat any LOL. Maybe I'll do it next weekend. I'm hoping the Mountain Trainers I ordered show up soon so I can start wearing them on the more rocky trails. Till then I'll be using the Keens. 

10:20 p.m. on August 16, 2017 (EDT)
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I hiked Pleasant Mountain again after work today, with about 10 more pounds added to my pack for a total of about 25lb. It was definitely noticeable, but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, slowing my pace when necessary but keeping it where I was just barely able to control my breathing. 
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I made it to the summit without stopping for any breaks, so that means I have to start adding to the hike. There are 2 or 3 other trails to the summit, I'll probably summit via one and then go maybe a mile down another and back up, then back down my original trail. 

1:05 a.m. on August 17, 2017 (EDT)
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Hi Phil,

thanks for a great post, I really enjoyed it and the pic's were more than adequate.

Getting out there is what it is all about and enjoyment along with achievement is my driving force. I carry a little excess body weight but at 79 that is to be expected. The one thing that I have learned over the years is not to carry any excess weight on my back. My day pack with full survival gear, cooking and spare clothing now weighs a mere 2 1/2 lbs. Boots are for winter only and my trail shoes weigh just over a pound (boots 4 1/2 lb) each so guess who feels like Fairy Lightfoot on the trail! I am eagerly awaiting instant water as that is the one thing that still weighs heavy though good map reading can often show potential water along the way to reduce the amount carried. Regular hikes and walks are a must to maintain fitness and to build stamina and I try to do 5 miles 3 times per week and at weekend a hill/mountain walk of between 6 and 10 miles. I am not as quick as I once was and stopping to appreciate the view or flowers etc is just as enjoyable as a rapid dash to the summit to bag a peak. So my friend get out there and make the most of what God gave us while it lasts to be appreciated by those who travel hopefully.

3:54 p.m. on August 18, 2017 (EDT)
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Thanks for the report, Phil. It was well done and it encourages another old fat guy (me) to get out there, too! I look forward to more of your reports and photos.

10:16 p.m. on August 19, 2017 (EDT)
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I was tired of being old & fat and decided to do something about the fat part, at least. The fact that it's fun is the icing on the cake.

5:17 p.m. on August 20, 2017 (EDT)
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Did Kearsarge again today, had to stop twice on the way up to address hot spots. I guess I should have worn my Keens instead of hoping liners & heavy wool socks would fill my 1/2-size-too-big Fugitives. But they don't seem to have blistered (I haven't taken the boots off yet) and I knocked about 45 minutes off my time from last week. Those foot care breaks totally ruined my pace!

No heat injury this time, but no pretty lady for company on the descent, either. :( And no blisters, I guess stopping when I did, painting my heels with benzoin tincture, and applying a piece of strength tape was the right idea. 
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11:11 a.m. on August 21, 2017 (EDT)
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Thanks for the trip report, Phil! I'm glad you're enjoying your hikes.

4:31 p.m. on August 21, 2017 (EDT)
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They're a lot of fun, I'm going places I haven't been before, and talking with cool & interesting people. Hell, I might have run into a Trailspacer and not even known it LOL. 

11:53 p.m. on August 21, 2017 (EDT)
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Phil:

Kuddos to you!  Taking on mountain hiking is a mighty effort when hauling a 40 pound pack.  I cannot imagine trying to haul a pack and all the man-weight you contend with.  I have seen others slim up doing your plan, but it does take a lot of time.  The good news is you will feel stronger with every pound shed.  If it feels like a big improvement now imagine the super human strength you will experience when you break 200 and no longer carry all that extra weight!

Ed

5:52 a.m. on August 22, 2017 (EDT)
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Well my pack only weighs about 25lb on my "training" hikes and 15 on weekend hikes, if I wanted to do 40lb I'd have to break out the old army MOLLE ruck because that's a little too much for my Osprey Manta 36. Hmmmm....maybe I'll do just that for my hike on Thursday, I'll just have to figure out a way to secure my hydration bladder in it. 

As far as the time it'll take, I'm not under the misapprehension like so many people seem to be that there's a quick way to do it. Or that it's something you do till you reach your goal, then stop. I'm looking forward to being able to do more difficult ones, culminating with Mt Washington in the near future. And who knows, maybe some day I'll be in shape to do a 14er or 3. If not, I'm still having fun!

October 17, 2017
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