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View Full Version : Osceolas, Aug. 2, trip report



TrishandAlex
08-03-2008, 09:35 AM
Tons of pictures now on our blog (link in our signature below).

Mt. Osceola Trail, out and back, 8.4 miles.

The weather report was iffy today. Thunderstorms for the afternoon and possibly rain in the morning. I explained to Alex that we would have to save Mt. Field (which she wanted to do next) for a sunny day, since I didn't want to be on top of Tom, Field and Willey during a thunderstorm. I explained that we could get up and back from the Osceolas before the afternoon thunderstorms and therefore we should do those today and save Field for the next (sunny) hike.

Despite my explanations and the apparent understanding and agreement from Alex, when we got to the trailhead she loudly exclaimed, "That sign does NOT say Mt. Field, it says Mt. Osceola Trail!!"

I went through the explanation again, and reminded her that she had agreed to all of this. Nevertheless, she was a bit sulky for the first part of the hike.

We have poles now, and the novelty of using them helped dispel the this-is-not-Mt. Field blues. I LOVE using hiking poles. I don't know why on earth it took me this long to buy them.

Mt. Osceola Trail is a very easy, lovely stroll through the woods interspersed with very moderate pitches. It was an easy trail.

Alex's attitude changed dramatically for the better as we hiked. She eventually became her usual cheery self. She likes all the mushrooms we see on the trails. Bright, big, fluffy looking mushrooms. She took this picture of three grouped together.

We also saw this creature on the trail (frog).

Upward we went, at a very comfortable pitch. The trail became moderately steep toward the top, but only for a tiny distance.

We reached the top and...the views were lovely. There were rain clouds over the other peaks. The wind was carrying the clouds right over the tips of the peaks and toward us. We stood there and watched as they seemed to fly right toward where we were standing, and then immediately up and over us. We watched the clouds change and move and fly, and Alex remarked that it all seemed like magic.

We stayed there a while, Alex elated with the view and feeling fine. There were clouds about that looked fairly dark, but not thick or wide. Much of the sky was clear, so I decided it would be safe to continue toward East Osceola. Also, I knew the trail to East Osceola was in the trees (as is the summit of East Osceola), so we wouldn't be very exposed. I pointed toward the peak and showed Alex where we were going. She felt strong and happy, so we continued on our way.

The trail from Osceola to East Osceola was a work-out!!! A few flat bits and then STEEP down down down.

Just before we reached the famed "chimney," we met a young man (early 20s?) coming up. He spoke in a large, friendly voice. He carried a pack and had a green tarp draped over himself (it was gently raining). He wore no shirt and was obviously in shape. I asked if he was staying at the campground on the other side of East Osceola. He said no, he was just camping here and there.

More on this fellow later.

We reached the chimney and did the rock "butt slide" to its left. At the bottom of the col I told Alex we were halfway there.

A few seconds of flat trail, and then up. Very steep here. We were both tired at this point, so this was difficult. We climbed up, up, steeply steeply up. Finally, we got to the wooded summit. Alex remarked that this was an ornery mountain because there was no view. Some other hikers were right behind us, and they offered to take our picture.

We rested a bit, and then began the very difficult trek back toward Mt. Osceola. Going very steeply up and down tested the reaches of our endurance.

We took it slowly. We reached the bottom of the col and then tackled the chimney. We went up the main bit, Alex first with me spotting her. I had just gotten her up and over, and was pulling myself over the top, when I heard the large, friendly voice of the man we had met before.

I looked up, and there he was. This time, he had a shirt on, but no pack. And -- I am not kidding here -- in his hand he held a large axe. The kind you cut down trees with. Or, the kind crazy people in slasher movies use on their victims. And there's Alex, standing right next to him, and here's me, not completely over the top of the chimney, still pulling myself up.

I hauled myself over the top fairly quickly, stood up, and said in a casual voice, "Hey, where's your pack?"

He cheerfully answered that he had left it down the trail, and that he was exploring the area around us. "You know, off the beaten path!" And with that he wandered through some scrub where there was absolutely no trail whatsoever.

After he left, I calmly but firmly urged Alex to get a move-on. She asked why, and I told her that the man made me a little nervous and that I wanted to get some distance between us and him.

There were many other hikers today, groups that were constantly passing us and chatting with us, so I wasn't THAT nervous. But still...

Shortly afterward, a couple passed us and I asked if they had seen the man with the axe. They answered yes, and that he had been at the Osceola summit shortly before, chatting with everyone who was there. The man mentioned that he seemed like a nice guy out exploring. The voice inside myself agreed with him, but nevertheless, the last thing I want to see at the top of an exposed rock climb is a guy with a large axe standing next to my kid.

We finally made it back to Osceola and took another summit picture.

Here we rested for a long while, and Alex took some pictures.

After chatting with a few fellow hikers, we began our descent.

We were both very tired now, so the descent felt long and hard. In reality, the grade is easy and mellow, but that trip to East Osceola did both of us in. We dragged ourselves back down, looking and feeling like zombies much of the way. After what felt like 2 days, we finally made it back to the trailhead.

Driving back down Tripoli Road, we saw two female hikers with their thumbs out. I pulled over for them -- they had gone up the Tecumseh trail from Waterville Valley and then accidentally taken the other way down, ending up on Tripoli Road, very far from their car. I gave them a ride to their vehicle and Alex happily chatted them both up the entire ride. They were very nice ladies, and they told me their names but in my fatigued stupor I promptly forgot them.

We dropped them off, and Alex and I had dinner at a restaurant before heading home. The delicious dinner revived both of us. I must bring other types of food on our hikes from now on.

Next week....the possible adventures of carrying Sage up a peak.

KD Talbot
08-03-2008, 01:47 PM
Great trip report! I don't want to sound alarmist, buy, yes, you do have to watch yourself out there. There are kooks, just like anywhere else, and a woman alone with her daughter is an easy target.

I'm sure you know about the girl killed on the AT late last year. The guys in jail, but that doesn't bring back the people he killed. Protecting yourself on the trail has been discussed ad nauseam in other forums. No matter what means of self defense you may use, somebody intent on doing you harm can and will succeed. You made the right move putting distance between yourself and him. If you sense something isn't right, trust your instincts.

Carry a whistle and some dog spray. Keep them where you can reach them, not in your pack. Please consider hiking with some friends or join some groups. Safety in numbers is not just a saying. Never telegraph in forums on the internet your intentions of where you will be hiking or camping.

On the other hand, don't let this put you off of hiking. Millions do this all the time with no repercussions, the percentage of tragedies is infinitesimal. Go out and have fun and don't let this worry you unnecessarily.

KDT

TrishandAlex
08-03-2008, 02:21 PM
Thanks, KD. I never say ahead of time where we're going. The closest I've come to that is figuring out where to hike next week with Sage in tow. We probably won't even go, as hiking with a complaining 3 year old ain't my bag. I'd rather enjoy her company doing something SHE likes to do, instead of dragging her along on her sister's adventures.

I don't even answer pm's in forums. I only want to converse with folks where everyone can read the conversation.

How does one protect oneself against a guy with an ax, I wonder..? I do carry several measures of self-defense. I carry them for bears and moose, but they would work on humans too. However, coming over the top of that chimney, stuck as I was at the moment, I was not able to reach anything in that one second.

Hopefully that will be the first and last unnerving human encounter we experience.

Rich
08-03-2008, 09:16 PM
I'm never without my counter assault (http://www.rei.com/product/623173). Would work equally as well on an ax slayer as it would on a bear. Just make sure it's within reach.

TrishandAlex
08-03-2008, 09:45 PM
Thanks, Rich.

Should I report this guy? If so, to whom? He didn't act in a threatening way -- he was just a bit strange, but in a loud-voiced, BIG smile kind of way. And, of course, he had a large axe and went totally off trail. Am I being paranoid? After all, if he wanted to hurt either one of us, he could have. There were many on the trail Sat., but no one around during those few minutes. He didn't hurt us, so maybe I'm being overly worried and mama-paranoid?

Being a mother, this episode is now haunting me in retrospect.

Rich
08-03-2008, 09:56 PM
Thanks, Rich.

Should I report this guy? If so, to whom? He didn't act in a threatening way -- he was just a bit strange, but in a loud-voiced, BIG smile kind of way. And, of course, he had a large axe and went totally off trail. Am I being paranoid? After all, if he wanted to hurt either one of us, he could have. There were many on the trail Sat., but no one around during those few minutes. He didn't hurt us, so maybe I'm being overly worried and mama-paranoid?

Being a mother, this episode is now haunting me in retrospect.



Can't really report him now. But, if you're ever in a similar position then immediately report what you saw to the forest service. They most likely won't head out and hunt him down but, at least there's a report of a suspicious person.

Is there any chance the guy on Osceola was a trail maintainer? I've come across several unruly looking guys who don't say more than a mumble carrying axes and chainsaws who are volunteer maintainers. Just a thought.

TrishandAlex
08-03-2008, 10:01 PM
I don't think he was maintaining the trail. We first met him heading toward East Osceola. He had a pack on and a tarp over himself. Then we saw him coming back toward Osceola, right after we got up the chimney. Then he had no pack and just the axe in his hand. He said he was just camping here and there, and then he said he was exploring and checking out places "off the beaten path."

He was probably just some nice guy. My mama paranoia's kicking in, probably. Things worry me much more than they otherwise would when I'm hiking with Alex.

JimS
08-04-2008, 09:21 AM
I agree that you should trust your instincts when encountering someone in the backcountry that seems a little off. You did the right thing, and your philosophy about posting in the forums sounds good as well.

Aside from the percieved threat, I'd be concerned about what anyone is doing with an axe near the top of a four thousand footer. I can't think of anything good that would come out of that UNLESS he was indeed a trail maintainer?!?!

Steve M
08-04-2008, 09:38 AM
There is also the possibility that he is completely harmless and doesn't have it in him to hurt anyone yet thought it might be funny to walk around with an axe to see if he could get a reaction from someone. I knew a kid like that growing up. He lived on my street and one day he went around to all the neighbors with kittens in a basket in one hand and a pail of water in the other and told them if they didn't adopt one or more of the kittens he was going to drown them in the pail of water. Back then people didn't take it too seriously but try that now and he would be in the psychiatric ward at the hospital.

TrishandAlex
08-04-2008, 10:40 AM
There is also the possibility that he is completely harmless and doesn't have it in him to hurt anyone yet thought it might be funny to walk around with an axe to see if he could get a reaction from someone. I knew a kid like that growing up. He lived on my street and one day he went around to all the neighbors with kittens in a basket in one hand and a pail of water in the other and told them if they didn't adopt one or more of the kittens he was going to drown them in the pail of water. Back then people didn't take it too seriously but try that now and he would be in the psychiatric ward at the hospital.

I would argue that anyone who thinks it funny to stand next to a child with an ax while her mother is still pulling herself up and over a rock scramble deserves to be put in the looney bin. If that was a joke, or just a way to get a "funny" reaction, then that guy is a first class a**hole. Anyone who pulls that kind of a prank deserve to be fully maced in the eyes.

donnellyvj
08-04-2008, 01:03 PM
yeah, not my kind of humor! I say find an extra hiking partner.

TrishandAlex
08-04-2008, 05:16 PM
The thing is, I don't want an extra hiking partner. I like doing this with my daughter. I refuse to be frightened out of doing something we both enjoy. I'd rather be as personally prepared as possible.

The young woman from Georgia who was killed by a psycho -- his last victims were two people together, a man and a woman. Two male AT thru-hikers, traveling together, were shot a few months ago. There are unfortunately examples of foul play on both sexes, and not just solo hikers.

I'm not stating this to be ornery to you or to anyone else, please understand that. We don't want hiking partners. We just plan to be as prepared as possible. Again, not trying to start a debate here. I just feel that women and girls have as much right to be on the trails as anyone else, and the feminist in me refuses to be frightened out of a fantastic experience by the few kooks out there.

donnellyvj
08-04-2008, 05:42 PM
I didn't mean I a guy. I just enjoy hiking with my friend as you do with Alex. This is what I was trying to get at. We usually head out with a group of three or four. Makes dinner time alot more fun. I guess you could say I'm a social hiker. hehe

Brad
08-04-2008, 05:59 PM
I didn't mean I a guy. I just enjoy hiking with my friend as you do with Alex. This is what I was trying to get at. We usually head out with a group of three or four. Makes dinner time alot more fun. I guess you could say I'm a social hiker. hehe
Think Snow
I think we need to gang up on you. The "Think Snow" part of your signature is disturbing. :cool: Can you imagine if all this rain in northern NE were snow? Might be like last winter all over again.

TrishandAlex
08-04-2008, 06:03 PM
I didn't mean I a guy. I just enjoy hiking with my friend as you do with Alex. This is what I was trying to get at. We usually head out with a group of three or four. Makes dinner time alot more fun. I guess you could say I'm a social hiker. hehe

Hey, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to jump down your throat. I hope I didn't come across as antagonistic.

Problem is, even if we wanted to go with a group, it's difficult to find hiking buddies who don't mind going at almost twice the book time. Because of Alex's age (and short legs), we almost always take twice as long as anyone else. Though we did make it up Osceola in 4 hours (3.2 miles). For us, that was a record.

Steve M
08-04-2008, 07:08 PM
I would argue that anyone who thinks it funny to stand next to a child with an ax while her mother is still pulling herself up and over a rock scramble deserves to be put in the looney bin. If that was a joke, or just a way to get a "funny" reaction, then that guy is a first class a**hole. Anyone who pulls that kind of a prank deserve to be fully maced in the eyes.

I'm with you...There is no place for stupidity yet some people think it's funny. It just shows how immature they are.

donnellyvj
08-04-2008, 07:15 PM
No prob. I wish ya luck with whatever you do. It's not like you can take a shotgun out with you. People would end up writing about you in a forum. It's just to bad that we even have to worry about stuff like this. Back to your earlier post. When you are hiking on the weekends its tends to be more busy on trails anyway.

donnellyvj
08-04-2008, 07:26 PM
I think we need to gang up on you. The "Think Snow" part of your signature is disturbing. :cool: Can you imagine if all this rain in northern NE were snow? Might be like last winter all over again.


I wonder how much snow it would be. I have no clue what the rain fall totals have been. "Think Sunshine". Is that better. hehe

KD Talbot
08-04-2008, 08:06 PM
"I just feel that women and girls have as much right to be on the trails as anyone else, and the feminist in me refuses to be frightened out of a fantastic experience by the few kooks out there." T&A

You are absolutely right, the chances are probably better that you be struck by lightning. I know many independent women who hike alone. If one is prepared to be self sufficient and knowledgeable about the trails and destination, then by all means go for it.

There is a difference in your situation though, and that is your daughter. How would she be able to respond if something were to happen to you? Not from some kook, but say, a broken ankle? Would you be able to spend the night in the woods waiting for help? Would her life, or both of yours be in danger? As long as you are prepared to do this it greatly reduces the risk, and as long as you are willing to accept the responsibility for your daughter who may not be able to make the proper decisions herself, I see no harm in doing this together. In fact, I think it is a wonderful thing that will develop into great bonds between the two of you, but, you have to think of the negative possibilities and have a plan which both you and she can understand.

These of course are just worst case scenarios, but the reality of hiking is that it is somewhat risky. Shock can set in quickly when one is cold and tired. Hypothermia can kill even in the warmer months. A wrong turn, a slip from tired legs, can all turn tragic. As long as one is aware and prepares oneself for the possibilities then there are IMO few better pass-times, and nothing better that one could do with a child.

KDT

PS: Sorry Brad, of the heated driveway, :), I'm with donellyvj on this one! Think snow! Damn blackflies drove me nuts in Tucks last Saturday. Give me winter hiking any day, not to mention skiing!

TrishandAlex
08-04-2008, 09:14 PM
"There is a difference in your situation though, and that is your daughter. How would she be able to respond if something were to happen to you? Not from some kook, but say, a broken ankle? Would you be able to spend the night in the woods waiting for help? Would her life, or both of yours be in danger? As long as you are prepared to do this it greatly reduces the risk, and as long as you are willing to accept the responsibility for your daughter who may not be able to make the proper decisions herself, I see no harm in doing this together. In fact, I think it is a wonderful thing that will develop into great bonds between the two of you, but, you have to think of the negative possibilities and have a plan which both you and she can understand.



I agree with the importance of being extremely prepared when hiking with a child. I carry enough gear and food to take care of the both of us for two emergency nights out. I carry proper clothing for rain, snow, and sunshine, in addition to emergency blankets, bivy sacks, a water purifier, tools, compass, etc. etc. My pack weighs a friggin' ton, if you ever see me on a trail you'll see what I mean. I envy all those other hikers who pass us by who have on a little ole' backpack.

Alex knows how to follow cairns and trail marks, and she knows how to read the map. She has her own pack with some emergency stuff in there, in addition to all the just-in-case stuff I have in my own pack. She also knows what to do and what not to do in the extremely improbable event of a bear or moose attack (at least, she knows what the so-called experts say to do, who knows if it would actually work). She knows how to use our water purifier, she knows the importance of wearing the right kind of clothes.

Believe me, I have the utmost respect for the Whites. I am very close to someone who became lost many years ago out there and barely survived. If anything, I am overly cautious about stuff.

KD Talbot
08-04-2008, 09:36 PM
You could probably cut back to one bivy if you could both fit in it. :) 2 nights is probably unlikely on the more popular trails you seem to be hiking. I'm sure you could lighten your load somewhat, the main objective is, after all, to enjoy the hike! Might speed you guys up a little bit, too! :)

KDT

Brad
08-04-2008, 09:39 PM
When in college I did the last summer before graduation working at a girls' camp in Maine as co-Trip Leader. Yes, I had experience but they also knew it would be better to have a male along. So, I was the token male.

Actually was a great summer and we did some fantastic trips - I am even now still telling stories about that summer. Wonderful memories. And we were safe on the trails and on the rivers.

KD Talbot
08-04-2008, 09:45 PM
"they also knew it would be better to have a male along"

Not what today's trail hiking woman wants to hear, Brad. Might get you maced! :)

KDT

Brad
08-04-2008, 09:51 PM
There are times I hike alone and there are times I would not do it. It all depends on where, what day of the week and the weather forecast. We all make our own choices. When a summer camp is responsible for other people's children they may make different decisions than we do. I do like the suggestion of hiking with a whistle - no matter who you are.

TrishandAlex
08-04-2008, 10:57 PM
You could probably cut back to one bivy if you could both fit in it. :) 2 nights is probably unlikely on the more popular trails you seem to be hiking. I'm sure you could lighten your load somewhat, the main objective is, after all, to enjoy the hike! Might speed you guys up a little bit, too! :)

KDT

True. Well, I need the work-out anyway. Plus, I could always pin a would-be attacker with my pack. Crush his legs with it or something.

rockin rex
08-05-2008, 08:37 AM
First let me respond to hiking alone and with a child. Any parent who hikes alone with a child has to realize that it is their full responsibility for that childs well being no matter what. I think from what I read here Trish is fully prepared to be out there with Alex. I hike alone with my kids all the time and I always go over what to do if something were to happen to me. I have even taught my fifteen year old (when he was 9) how to drive a car so in case of an emergency he could drive for help. At 15 he drives better than me though he can't "legally" be on the road. Now for personal safety when hiking. There are books written on this subject. Bottom line is you have to follow your insinct. If you feel the person is bad, than the person is bad no matter what others might say. I have thru hiked the A.T., Long Trail and many other miles and have met MANY unusal people. I have hiked 25 miles in a day and come to a shelter only wanting to stop for the night but have not felt comfortable with who was there and headed on. Problem here is when that unusal soul gets between you and your child. For me then it is all bets off. Only the parent at that moment knows what is best. When I hike with my kids I am always watching who I cross paths with just as Trish did. When she saw the guy for the 2nd time her radar went off. I can't say what would be best but I would have probably looked for the nearest hiker and explained what was happening. Maybe even hike out with them if it was really bad. Again there is no right answer here. It comes down to that exact moment to what is best. Well I think I have written enough. These are just issues I deal with ALL the time.

TrishandAlex
08-05-2008, 09:03 AM
First let me respond to hiking alone and with a child. Any parent who hikes alone with a child has to realize that it is their full responsibility for that childs well being no matter what. I think from what I read here Trish is fully prepared to be out there with Alex. I hike alone with my kids all the time and I always go over what to do if something were to happen to me. I have even taught my fifteen year old (when he was 9) how to drive a car so in case of an emergency he could drive for help. At 15 he drives better than me though he can't "legally" be on the road. Now for personal safety when hiking. There are books written on this subject. Bottom line is you have to follow your insinct. If you feel the person is bad, than the person is bad no matter what others might say. I have thru hiked the A.T., Long Trail and many other miles and have met MANY unusal people. I have hiked 25 miles in a day and come to a shelter only wanting to stop for the night but have not felt comfortable with who was there and headed on. Problem here is when that unusal soul gets between you and your child. For me then it is all bets off. Only the parent at that moment knows what is best. When I hike with my kids I am always watching who I cross paths with just as Trish did. When she saw the guy for the 2nd time her radar went off. I can't say what would be best but I would have probably looked for the nearest hiker and explained what was happening. Maybe even hike out with them if it was really bad. Again there is no right answer here. It comes down to that exact moment to what is best. Well I think I have written enough. These are just issues I deal with ALL the time.

Thanks for your vote of confidence, Rex. And I'm impressed with your hikes! One of my life goals is to hike the AT.

Luckily these peakbagging trails seem to be full of hikers all the time. Had we been alone on the trail, I would have been extremely worried at that encounter. However, there was a group of 8 coming back from East Osceola about half a mile or so behind us, as well as that couple who passed us a few minutes after our encounter (who had also seen ax man, and had spoken with him previously at the Osceola summit). We had also been passed by two couples who I knew were going to hang out ahead of us at the main peak. In short, I knew there were folks ahead and behind us, and that comforted me a bit.

HOWEVER, in retrospect, the safest thing I could -- and should -- have done would have been to hike back to the main summit with that couple who passed us shortly after meeting axe man. I felt comfortable in the moment not to, but now, looking back, that would have been the smartest thing to do and I'm kicking myself over it. I knew there were many people behind us, but still, that would have been the best thing to do.

I'm glad you hike with your son. I feel giving kids this experience (minus the Paul Bunyon encounters) is one of the best things we parents can do for them.

Bill O
08-05-2008, 09:21 AM
Maybe the guy was into lumberjack competitions and hiked with his axe for training. I mean gymnasts are known to go on runs with their pommel horses, and bowlers often carry their ball around for training.