Donald and I went camping in the New Hampshire White Mountains this past weekend. I took Friday off, and we drove up early Friday afternoon to avoid most of the weekend getting-out-of-town traffic.
We stayed at the Waterville Campground, just around the corner from the Waterville Valley ski resort. It was pretty quiet there, though that may have been partly because it was a slightly rainy weekend. Or maybe because it’s a small campground without a lot of luxuries. Like showers, or flush toilets.
We had a very late lunch on Friday on the drive up (at the Common Man restaurant in Ashland; we both agreed that of the two free cheese dips, we like the cream cheese dip better than the cottage cheese dip, and that their homemade root beer isn’t as good as the homemade root beer at the Woodstock Inn). So we sort of skipped dinner, and just ate occasional snacks through the evening. I wanted to toast marshmallows, but we were having trouble getting a fire going, with damp wood, and rain starting to fall. Eventually we cheated by dousing the wood with some of the white gas fuel for my camp stove. Oops! Too much fuel. Don’t try this at home, kids! No harm done, though, and the gas kickstart did get the damp wood burning long enough for me to toast 3 or 4 marshmallows. Donald passed on the marshmallows; he said that he enjoys toasting them (with a better fire), but doesn’t enjoy having to eat them afterwards. It’s kind of funny that I’m way more of a food snob than Donald, but I love marshmallows!
We went to bed early, since it was dark and there wasn’t much else to do. On Saturday morning, we were up bright and early for a hike. Well, we were both up for our own definitions of bright and early. I got up at 7, ate some fruit, granola bars and nuts (and a marshmallow or two!), and read my new books on edible wild mushrooms and edible wild plants until Donald finally got up around 9.
Once we were both ready, we drove another hour north to hike Mount Garfield. Donald had forgotten his hiking boots at home, unfortunately, but a good part of the hike up Mount Garfield is easy going; though there’s some steep scrambling right at the end.
Here are some pictures from the top of the mountain:
I kept trying to get a picture of Donald, so I would get his attention, and he would look at me just until I had focused the camera and then look away before I snapped the picture. This is about the fourth or fifth time I’d made him look at the camera, which is why he looks so irritated.
I’m incapable of not making a stupid face when a camera is pointed at me.
I didn’t want to sit right at the top of the mountain, because some darkly threatening clouds were moving in, and I didn’t want to be at the highest point for hundreds of yards in any direction. Donald thought I was being excessively paranoid, but he hasn’t been caught on top of Mount Monadnock in a sudden, vicious thunderstorm. Not fun! So we sat for a while on one of the ledges a short distance below the actual summit.
I also got a nice picture of Donald without his shirt, back at the car, but he said that if I put it on my blog, he had a nice picture of me in my bikini, showing a considerable amount of cleavage, that he’d be happy to post on his own blog. So I thought better of it!
The hike was 9 1/2 or 10 miles, round-trip. The hiking book said it would take 5 1/2 hours, and while I used to be able to beat the book time pretty consistently, I’m not in my 20s anymore. Our total time was around 7 hours, but that included a half hour break at the summit, and several short breaks during the hike, especially on the way up. Also, Donald can hike faster than I can uphill, but I’m faster downhill, so if we hike together we’re probably slower than if we hiked separately. But that wouldn’t be very romantic, now, would it?
It didn’t rain on us on the way down the mountain, but it did rain pretty hard while we were eating dinner at a restaurant between the trailhead and our campsite (the aforementioned Woodstock Inn, of the excellent root beer, and even more excellent–in my opinion–actual beer). We both felt it was too much effort to actually plan ahead for meals, so we just ate out (and bought stuff at a local grocery store for snacks). The Woodstock Inn has good food, but their portions are enormous. Rachael Ray size! I ordered the potato skins and a salad, and I really should have ordered a half order of potato skins, because it was just enormous. They were really good, though. A lot of places think potato skins are 5 neat shells of roasted potato half with a bit of cheese and a few bacon sprinkles; these were actual skins with a lot of potato flesh still attached, deep-fried, then thrown into a dish and smothered with melted cheese and bacon crumbles. Oh, and they actually gave us a reasonable amount of sour cream, too. Donald was all sensible and ordered the swordfish. But he passed on his vegetable accompaniment to eat some of my potato skins (potato is a vegetable, right?).
It wasn’t raining too terribly hard on our walk back to the car (the Woodstock Inn is very popular, so we couldn’t find parking right next to the restaurant). It didn’t start raining hard again until around 1 am, by which time we were both safely ensconced in the tent.
Other interesting things from the weekend: I tried this DEET-free insect repellent that I got at a local store; it contains cedar, mint and citronella oils in a base of corn oil. It was supposed to be really good against black flies. I think it worked okay, but I’m not entirely sold. I don’t think it lasts as long as DEET-containing repellents, and it’s kind of messy to be slathering corn oil on yourself constantly. It doesn’t taste as bad as DEET, though, so it doesn’t interfere as much with eating, and it’s not as disgusting if you’re sweating a lot and some drips into your mouth. I’m not convinced it would do the job in really heavy mosquitoes, though.
Slugs seemed to really like our sandals. We would leave them outside the tent at night, and in the morning they would be covered with slugs. It was kind of gross. But not as bad as the large spiders in the outhouse.
We left late Sunday morning, and got back to Boston early in afternoon. It was a good trip! Next time we go camping, we might try backpacking. I guess we’ll have to be better organized; no hiking out of the wilderness to the Woodstock Inn for dinner, I suspect!