With Spring finally upon us here in New England, Brooke and I took the boys to Douglas State Forest to enjoy one of our favorite local hikes, the 2.2 mile Coffeehouse Loop Trail. Hunter did a great job of hiking over a mile all by himself (not even 4 years old), and then he hopped a ride with dear old Dad for the remainder. Max loved his first big hike, so our fingers are crossed he loves it as much as his big brother.
We had some unseasonably warm weather this past Sunday, so Brooke and I dragged the boys out to Purgatory again. We finished up the short 1-mile loop and then let Hunter run amok in the playground. With many more weeks of winter looming, it felt great to sneak this one in.
Brooke, Hunter and I spent the Monday of Columbus weekend hiking through our favorite local spot, Purgatory Chasm State Park. It was a clear 55-degree day, and because we probably won't have too many of those before the snow flies we figured we might as well get out and enjoy the weather.
Brooke and Hunter took me on a hiking adventure for Father's Day a few weekends ago to Douglas State Forest, hiking the 3-mile Coffee House Loop Trail - the same loop we did in the winter of 2010. Below is the slideshow from arguably the best thing I could have done on Father's Day.
Brooke and I decided to take Hunter, along with his cousins Jack and Amelia, to Purgatory Chasm on a warm (50*) February afternoon. It felt spring-like and we had a great time getting out in nature and shaking the late-winter doldrums. We know this balmy spell won't last forever, but it sure is fun while it's here!
My neighbor Bill told me earlier this spring that him and some of his buddies from work were going to Glacier National Park in Montana this July for four full days of backpacking, and I was, to say the least, quite a bit jealous. Glacier is on my and every other backpacker's "life list" of national parks to hike, so I knew I would have to live vicariously through Bill's stories and pictures until Brooke, Hunter & I could get ourselves to Montana. With Bill's trip inching closer on the calendar, he figured a nice, long trial run would be good for him and all of his new (and borrowed from me) gear. We decided via group e-mail that a quick jaunt up to Jaffrey, NH would be perfect. Mount Monadnock, southern NH's 3,165 foot peak (and also the second most hiked peak in the world behind Japan's Mt. Fuji), is only an hour away from where we live, and sports a nice 9-mile round trip hike to the summit. Bill, Mark and I met Bob & Brian, two of Bill's pals, at the trailhead around 9am on Saturday. It was an exact 4.5 mile trip up and 4.5 mile trip back down to the cars, so despite the light weight of my day pack I was debating internally whether or not I could handle 9 miles in my abysmal physical condition. Bill and Bob, prepping for Glacier, had on their 55 and 70 liter packs, respectively, to fully appreciate how 10 mile days with 35lbs. will feel in the coming days. The five of us ambled our way 4.5 miles to the top of the mountain with liberal water breaks, and enjoyed the scenery of southern New Hampshire along the way. With this mountain being incredibly popular, we were forced to share the summit with 60-80 other hikers and "hikers." Once back to the cars, we enjoyed some refreshing beverages before hitting the road and driving our 70 miles back to the Blackstone Valley. Bill's gear didn't weigh him down too bad, and his outlook for Montana is more than positive, so his trip is sure to be a winner. And thankfully, because I bought most of my gear from REI and EMS, I can sleep knowing their bulletproof return policies offer more assurance than Bill's backcountry skills!
So I needed another break from studying for the bar exam, so Brooke, myself, Mark, Shauna, and Patrick headed back into Douglas State Forest to do some hiking. We made breakfast on the trail and wrapped up a total of around 3 miles of winter hiking.
So this past Sunday, Brooke, myself, and Mark racked up a few miles in Douglas State Forest when I needed a break from studying for the bar exam. It was a great day to get out, do some winter hiking, and cook lunch on the trail.
In April of 2009, myself and Pat, who is a seasoned veteran of Hunter's Hikes, and Dan, making his first appearance here, spent a "guy's weekend" in Freeport, Maine mere weeks before the birth of Dan's first child, a boy. We headed up on a Friday afternoon, making sure to drink copious amounts of coffee, eat even more fast food than coffee, and hit both Kittery Trading Post and L.L. Bean's flagship store, which just happened to be pissing distance from our hotel in Freeport. Our first night in Maine consisted of a huge steak dinner, several locally-brewed beers, and some late night shopping at L.L. Bean. Dan was kind of enough to reward Pat and I for putting up with him by gifting us with quite generous gift cards, so Pat and I were like kids in a candy store. We awoke bright and early Saturday morning and were welcomed with cool temperatures and a thick blanket of fog. We went easy at the hotel's breakfast buffet and then hopped in Pat's Jeep for the quick drive over to the state park. Bradbury Mountain State Park has quite a few miles of hiking trails and is situated around, obviously, Bradbury Mountain. The three of us hiked directly to the peak, where the fog was obstructing our views of Casco Bay. Hoping the sun would eventually emerge and eviscerate the pea soup that surrounded us, we opted for one of the longer trails in the park, that skirted down the western slope of the Mountain, and then wrapped itself around the base for several miles, eventually returning us to the top. We took our time on this trail, finding ourselves acting like immature 13-year-old boys, throwing our knives into dead trees and snowballs at one another, not the immature almost-30-year-olds we really are. Once back at the summit a few hours later, we finally had the view we had hoped for. We could finally see Casco Bay looming off in the distance, many miles to our east. We sat around, whittled some spears we used to stab each other in the calf with, and then hiked back down to the car, ravenously hungry and in search of food. We grabbed some pizza at a local Freeport pizzeria, and then headed back to the hotel to shower up and get ready for more L.L. Bean patronage and dinner. We poked around town, which was eerily quiet with it being April (off-season), making sure to hit every expensive brand-name store we could find. Unfortunately for me, due to rather sad circumstances, my trip was cut short, and I had to make the long drive back to Massachusetts before dinner, but Pat and Dan stuck around in Freeport for another night and made sure to spend as much time in L.L. Bean as security would allow. All in all it was a great trip and a great way to celebrate Dan's impending fatherhood. I think the biggest thing that made us smile that weekend was knowing that in ten years, the three of us would return, but with our kids in tow.
Brooke and I took our puppy Fletch hiking through Wachusett Mountain State Park, and eventually made our way to the summit. We had packed a lunch for us and some water and dog food for Fletch, and enjoyed a beautiful, warm spring day in a beautiful setting.