2018 Seek the Peak & Hike for Mike / by Douglas Koski

We were gifted with the most beautiful of days for this year's Seek the Peak hike!  I don't anticipate that we'll ever see the skies as clear at the summit with perfect temperatures again.  The winds were there just enough to keep the air moving as we hiked.  For the first time, sunscreen really wasn't optional.  Though, I never did apply any.

Sinéad and I hardly had the chance to properly train for the hike this year.  I took up jogging and squats (looking to regain the legs for a 5K) while Sinéad took to various machines at the gym.  Nothing preps for a big hike quite like other hikes, though.  Knowing the trail and knowing her body, Sinéad opted for the difficult decision to be a driver this year.  

We decided upon the Ammonoosuc trail as that offered the Jewell for the round trippers' return.  We had hiked this trail before, and it was not one I remembered fondly.  I remembered the trail starting with about a mile of flatter terrain, just to then go very vertical after a beautiful little waterfall and pond.  My memory did not fail me...

We arrived at the trail head and started our progress before the sunlight could fully light the path.  

The Hike for Mike team ready to hit the trail!

The sun was slowly making its way over the ridge and starting to offer some dramatic lighting for the openings in the trail.  

The start of the trail is rather pretty as it follows next to a river bed.  There are bridges and washed-out ridges to break up the continuity of the rocks, roots and sometimes sand paths.

The flatter nature of that first mile quickly paced by as the memory of the stairs continuously crept back into my mind.  All too soon we had found the lovely pool of water with it's little waterfall.  The trail was about to become very vertical.  Sounded like a good time to stop and get in a couple photos!

There wasn't much for photographing once we started the vertical portion.  It was more important to keep your eyes on your next step.  Eddie and I did see a little side trail that sounded to lead towards potential waterfalls.  We decided to take a quick look because 1. waterfalls, and 2. we were happy to hike something not resembling stairs for a bit of a break.

Though it was a cool side-detour, I should have known better than to trust the camera's autofocusing system to see what I wanted it to do.  If there's a next time, I'll have to remember to go back to full manual once I get to a spot like this!  That spot was a wonderful dual waterfall location that was just enough off the path to be ignored by most all hikers.

The trail continued it's path wrapping around the stream.  There were plenty of smaller streams looking to connect to the main as we made our climb.  It offered some distraction from the grind until we could start getting closer to the tree level.

It was hard earned, but we were eventually rewarded with breaks in the trees!



and upwards.....  So much upwards....

Spring-boarding Eddie into his modeling career.

We were starting to get to a point where the trees were breaking up to allow for much greater views.

Lakes of the Clouds Hut

We had made it to the Lakes of the Clouds hut and the weather was still beautiful!  At this point I was hiking with only Theresa and Eddie as those at the front had made much better time and we had pulled away from those behind us.  We took a long rest and much needed snack before continuing our journey.  But first, we needed to sneak in some photos!

We caught the Cog's first run of the day.

Even though the summit was well within sight, the Cairns will lead the way.

My group waited for quite a while and eventually the group behind us caught up with us.  We chatted for a bit, took a couple photos and then it was time to get back on the trail.  I really should have used some of that time to apply sunscreen...  A regret to be felt later.


It wasn't far from the hut that we found ourselves at the namesakes for the Lakes of the Clouds hut.  Last time Theresa and I were at this point, we almost found ourselves in one of the lakes before we could see it...  This day, the view of the lake we almost walked into was much better!  There was also a 2nd lake we never knew was there on the previous hike!


Hidden Lake

This is the lake we never knew existed while hiking in the clouds.  (Right of the trail)


2nd Lake

This is the lake we almost walked into with how thick the clouds were.  (Left of the trail)

We continued along the trail occasionally stopping to take a look back at the lakes and the hut.  The trail did make for some great departing views.  Something I had anticipated but not the extent we experienced.

The Return Trail leading up Mount Monroe.


Road Construction

Can't seem to escape road construction even here!!

Theresa was excited that we got a break from the stair section!

Before we were truly ready but long after we wanted for it, we reached the final ascent to the summit.  One final rock pile to climb before we reached our destination.  The trail is deceptively longer than anticipated as it wraps around the side before cutting back and finally leading to the top.  


It's Still All There...

But so much easier in good weather!

We found our cheering squad once we made it to the top, and then found a place to sit and rest while the rest of the team made their way up.  We joined people in congratulating others for reaching the top, and had a great time rooting people up the final portion of their hikes.  Soon we had everyone united at the top and we made our way to the official summit sign to get some nice weather pictures.  As I was part of the pictures I was not able to get all the groups.  Someone was nice enough to grab a photo of Sinéad and I with my camera, though.

Look, Ma!  No snow coats!!!

I was also able to get in a photo of Uncle John's friend Jim and his wife, Denise.

We spent some time taking in the summit and getting out of the sun.  It was a beautiful day and well worth the hike!  Hoping for the same great weather next year!

A look over the Auto Road and some of what we hiked last year.

Eddie and Theresa enjoying the Observatory tour with a selfie.