Submitted by Pat
Mountains: Mts. Osceola (4,340) and East Osceola (4,156)
Date: July 31, 2006
Time: 6 hours and 57 minutes
Elevation Gain: 2,289
Trails: Osceola Trail out and back
Holy Shit Factor: moderate
The day after our Killington hike Nancy and I head up to the Whites for another glorious opportunity to be on the trail. This will be our first back-to-back hiking experience, having hiked Killington the day before. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we feel as good after hike #2 as we do after hike #1. On the drive up to the Lincoln area, we check in with each other and decide to do the Osceolas instead of the Tripyramids or Kinsmans and Cannon -- we need a shorter, less intimidating hike after running up Killington the yesterday.
We hit the Osceola Trail at 8:44 a.m. under clear skies with the temperatures in the mid 60's. Perfect start. The parking lot has five other cars in it - one even has a VFTT sticker - our first sighting. [How can we get one of those stickers, anyway?] After a rocky uphill start, the trail becomes quite wonderfully civilized - footing is excellent and the rock is pitted so that our boots don't slip, even on the wet, mossy spots. It is great to be hiking together, reclaiming our own pace after the sprint of the day before, and enjoying the beauty of the day. We reach the summit of Mt. Osceola at 10:53 a.m., temperature 68.3 degrees. Just as we summit, we hear some hikers congratulating others on their 40th peak. This 4,000 footers club is quite a phenomena -- a challenge that brings like-minded people together in the spirit of hiking, opens up the natural beauty of the mountains throughout the state, pushes people past the familiar and encourages many to discover the joy of climbing. Wowsers!
We meet a family of hikers and the Dad takes pictures of us, taking extra time to ensure the picture is artistic and captures the splendor around us. We reciprocate the favor before heading off toward East Osceola. We like this family -- a mom, dad and daughter -- but that is not a surprise to us because we've learned climbing our first 15 peaks that hikers are great human beings. Like the guy on the summit of Whiteface said, "You don't find many assholes above 3,000 feet." That is confirmed for us on each and every hike.
I read about the section of the trail called the Chimney and am looking forward to climbing it. We hit a pretty steep section (a section that went STRAIGHT DOWN) as we head down off Osceola, then start back up. I keep waiting for the Chimney and am startled to suddenly come upon the cairn at the East Osceola summit (12:27 p.m.). We meet up with a nice older couple, good looking and in great shape. He is probably in his 70s or 80s and she is probably in her 60s or 70s. They seem so happy with each other and with their hiking experience. They tell us this is number 6 of the NH 4,000 footers, smiling with the joy of accomplishment. Again -- great people and what inspiration! We hope we are in shape, happy and still hiking when we are that age. And, being in our 50s -- it's not far off! We all take pictures of each other and head back to Osceola for lunch. On the walk back I realize that the description I had read about the Chimney is written by folks who climbed East Osceola first and then Osceola - that steep section we had gone down was the Chimney. Feeling a little foolish, I nonetheless enjoy climbing it (STRAIGHT UP!) and am very happy to reach the Osceola summit at 12:24 p.m.
Lots of folks on top - we find a warm rock ledge to sit on facing east and enjoy our lunch, boots and socks off, feeling the breeze, watching Juncos search for crumbs and looking at the amazing world at our feet. It's hard not to feel like the luckiest people in the world when we are up there. We are trying to figure out which mountains we are looking at and a man very kindly hands us his map of the Whites so we can orient ourselves. We are gazing at the Tripyramids. After lunch, the older couple we had met on top of East Osceola arrives and generously offers to take our picture on the summit of Osceola before we start the trek back to civilization.
A little after 1:42 p.m., we head down. I get out my poles since I can feel some fatigue settling into my knees after two days of hiking. The trip down is relatively uneventful, although I am given special status in the Peak Poopers Club for having to take a crap half way down the mountain. Two days in a row! Blech! The temperature begins climbing and high clouds come in from the west. We know the parking lot is near a small stream, so when we cross a rivulet of water -- we know we are close. Oh whoops -- maybe not so close, we realize, as we hit another stream. Maybe it is this stream that is close to the parking lot. Hope so, because we are ready. No parking lot -- just another stream. Perhaps it is this one that is close to the parking lot. Nope -- one more rivulet of water across the trail. Ah -- it is this one. You know what we're saying, right? You don't want the hike to end, but you're ready for it to end? We are definitely glad to see the parking lot when it finally comes into view. We tag another two peaks, bringing our total to 16 out of 67 4,000 footers in New England. We hit the parking lot at 3:41 p.m., thankful for our cold drinks awaiting us in the cooler, the 4,000 footer challenge and the opportunity to enjoy fabulous fellow hikers. Perhaps that is part of the magic of this hike -- not only do we delight in the natural beauty of the incredible panoramas and the gorgeous trail, but we also experience the beauty in those we pass by on the trail, who offer to take pictures, lend us a map so we can get our bearings, and wish us a safe hike. Thank you!
Next up - Katahdin
16 of NH 48
16 of 67 in NE
16 of the NE 100 Highest