I haven’t been this achy and sore in a long time.
Yesterday I joined a group of ten hikers from various New England hiking forums to do a trip in the White Mountains. The plan was simple: spot cars at the Beaver Brook parking lot on Route 3, hike up North and South Twin Mountains, then across to Galehead Mountain, and back down to Beaver Brook. 14 miles, give or take, starting at 8 AM (which meant I left my house at 4:30), and getting back to the cars around 4 or 5.
Things started out pretty well. It was brutally cold out, and there were several feet of fresh, untracked snow on the ground. Since we had a group of eleven people, though, we had a pretty easy time breaking trail and moving along. For a while.
Once the steep climbing began up to North Twin, the going became much harder. Three people bailed out due to various pains and exhaustion, so we were down to eight. That group split in half, as four of us moved a little further ahead of the other four, so it turned into two smaller groups, both steadily becoming exhausted by the conditions.
Oh, but it was beautiful. With so much fresh snow from the previous weeks of nice, snowy weather, we were walking in a winter wonderland right from the start. As we got up to higher elevations the trees became cartoonish blobs of white, the temperatures dropped, and clouds began to move in. We marched on to South Twin, and then began the steep descent to Galehead Hut.
At Galehead, we had only half a mile each way up to Galehead Mountain, but most of my part of the group was feeling horribly overworked. We sat down at the hut for a few minutes, debating on whether or not to hit that last peak, but finally decided it wasn’t worth it. It was already 4:30, so we were far behind schedule. I was on the verge of nausea, unable to eat or drink enough to keep myself powered. It was a simple matter of too much heavy exertion. One of our group figured that with the conditions we had to be burning over 500 calories per hour, which amounted to approximately 6000 calories for the day. I’ve been far too lethargic this winter, so my muscles were definitely not ready for such a strenuous day hike, but even the others, who had been hiking constantly through the winter, were feeling pretty beat.
Moreover, once at the hut the clouds opened up with a heavy snowfall.
We decided to skip Galehead and head down, missing only a mile of the planned hike for the day. We could have missed more and been better off for it. We ended up getting to the cars at 7 PM, three inches of new, wet snow already stuck to the cars. The roads were in awful shape, so the drive home took much longer than it should have. I finally made it back home at 11 PM, knees and legs ready to fall apart from the hours of intense hiking. I’ll definitely have to get my ass in shape before I try this again.