With Hale Came Balance

Submitted by Nancy

Mountain: Mt. Hale (4,054)
Date: August 26, 2006
Time: 2 hours and 53 minutes (What? No 1 in front of that 2?)
Miles: 5.3
Elevation Gain: 2,164
Steps: 15,370
Trails: Hale Brook Trail out and back
Holy Shit Factor: negative

Picture Gallery

Short Video Clip
High Five for #22

Hale brings balance to our hiking. The 4,054- foot White Mountain brought a reprieve from our last two slogging, hike-till-you're draggin', oh-my-God-are-we-almost-there hikes - Cannon and the Kinsmans, and Katahdin via Knife Edge. Need I say more? Two 12-hour death marches that left my knees halfway down the trail, my big toes numb, and the Holy Shit Factor off the charts. Not that we didn't have fun or laugh on these hikes - quite the contrary. It seems the more strenuous the hike, the more laughter fills the trail.

Okay - but since I'm talking about balance here, first you need a brief reminder of the past two hikes. On the Cannon/ Kinsman hike I lost my full Nalgene bottle only a quarter of the way into the hike, rolling off a cliff, never to be seen again, and later ran out of water. Also on Cannon/Kinsmans, Pat and I entertained the thought we might not make it out alive, the realization that we had gone the wrong way and wasted a precious hour of fading sunlight, and the fact that it was getting dark and we had only a tiny flashlight to get us the last mile and a half back to the car, Oh Holy Shit! On Katahdin, the clouds rolled in so thick we couldn't see where we were going, the wind threatened to blow us off Knife Edge, we had to climb straight up and straight down two "Chimneys" (trail, my ass!), we needed EVERY layer of clothing we had, and it was pouring rain! Holy SHIT changed to Holy FUCK!

Hale, by comparison, was a breeze and gave us a much-needed break, an opportunity to rebuild confidence and a chance to claim another 4,000 footer with ease. No black-and-blues, no blood, not even much mud and no Holy Shit! Now - I don't want to give you the wrong idea, like the guy we met on the trail. We passed him as he was on his way up and we were going down. He whined, "I thought this was supposed to be easy! That's what the guide book said!" Hale is a 4,000 footer with a 2,300-foot elevation gain over 2.2 miles. So "easy" is all relative! But Hale is a simple up and down. It doesn't have the up-down-up-down-up-down-up-down-up-down our other hikes had. You know what I mean?

It was a partly cloudy day when we set out on the Hale Brook Trail at 10:06 a.m. with our two very special guests, our favorite K-9s, Luna and Dejah. Luna is a beautiful Australian Shepherd with one blue eye and one brown and blue eye, and Dejah is a sweet, strong, energetic yellow lab. They are the best of friends, just like Pat and me, and they were very excited to be on the trail, as were we. This was our first 4,000 footer with the dogs, so we were hoping fellow hikers on the trail would be dog-lovers and our dogs would be hiker-lovers.

The trail was wooded and ran alongside a brook for the first half-mile. The trail reminded me of the Bucklin trail on Killington and the Tecumseh Trail on Tecumseh -- wooded, with a pretty steep incline the entire way. The trail had a few switchbacks thrown in around the mid-point of the trail- otherwise it was straight ahead and up. We arrived at the summit at 11:50 a.m. The summit is an open bare circle, but trees all around the summit periphery obscure the view. If you stand on the summit cairn, you can kinda see the tops of the surrounding mountains, otherwise - no views. The temp was 59.6.

We ate lunch, begging the dogs to lie down instead of begging for food (no such luck), took pictures of us and the dogs and started down the mountain at 12:34 p.m. Our hike down was uneventful except for the awesome feeling of sharing the experience with a great friend, and our two best buddies, Dejah and Luna. They were very well behaved - who knows we might bring them again! We arrived back at the parking lot at 1:59 p.m.

Balance. The killer hikes and the easy hikes - you need both.

20 of NH 48
22 of 67 in NE
23 of the NE 100 Highest