View Full Version : Kearsarge North (Pequawket) 3/19-20/11

KD Talbot
03-21-2011, 08:59 PM
Presidential Range at Sunset

Kearsarge North (Pequawket) 3268'

Kearsarge North Trail

6.2 Miles 2600' Elevation gain

Kevin and Jim

I have a lot of excuses and no real reasons for taking the winter off from hiking. They go something like: Grief, depression, illness, injury, lack of motivation, you get the idea. Mom's passing last fall was hard, saying good-bye to a young friend cut down in the prime of life was hard as well, both dredged up unresolved emotions of losing my son, now almost five years gone by. Autumn was dying. Winter was death. Spring is a rebirth and the hope of new beginnings. Luckily I have friends. This one knew I was in a bad place and with a little push helped me get back on the trail.

Out Our Picture Windows

With the promise of sunset/moonrise and moonset/sunrise we set off on the last day of winter for me to try my first winter backpacking trip. After much consideration we decided that it would be best to be in place for these events rather than being camped down below somewhere with an alpine start and the possibility of missing our opportunities. We decided to hold our vigil on the summit of Pequawket where we welcomed the rise of the media-hyped Super Moon, the glorious setting of the sun, and the reversal of this process the next morning, as the rising of the sun ushered in the first day of spring.

Super Moon

To save some weight in our packs we decided to stop at the Moat Mountain Brewery to eat before hiking up. In retrospect, I'd rather the food was in my pack than stuck in my craw as I struggled to get 40 some odd pounds of gear to the summit to assure my overnight comfort. Lesson learned. I managed to hold it down and was rewarded for my effort by minimal set-up upon arrival at the summit. Thus we were able to set immediately about the task of photographically recording the aforementioned events.

Looking West at Dawn

Slowly, the sun began to sink in the west. With it went the temperature which faded to zero, much as the light of day had done. As this transpired an equally miraculous event began in the east as the full moon lifted his head above the horizon to begin his reign of the night sky. We watched as fading twilight became brilliant moonlight. Tiny lights twinkled in the valleys surrounding us like sunlight glistening on dark waters. I thought of folks sitting warm by their fires, oblivious to the celestial happenings we were now fully entranced by.

Sunrise on the Vernal Equinox

It soon became necessary to hunker down for the night before the cold got so far into our bones that we were unable to feel warm again. I had a twenty degree bag, my thermals, wool socks, etc., but lucky for me my partner lent me his over-bag which added twenty degrees. These, coupled with a thick inflatable bag meant I had a relatively comfortable night considering the temps hung around zero and there was a steady twenty mph wind for most of the night. Despite having a minus twenty bag, my young compadre felt as though his thinner pad didn't provide enough insulation between him and the cold floor and he was less comfortable than he would have liked, but not to the point of making any adjustments. We both would have liked to have been a little warmer than we were, but we'll be better prepared next time.

Presidential Range at Dawn

The one item I forgot, a bottle to pee in, meant some cold trips out of the sleeping bag, but also gave me a chance to check the progress of the moon as he raced across the sky. It was so bright I could have done just about any normal daytime activity under it's powerful light. Despite this, several stars and constellations tried to match the luminosity. Regulus to our south shone bright and beautiful. Orion the Hunter stood tall and proud above Mount Chocorua. To our north the pale outline of snow-covered Mount Washington stood out against the dark backdrop. All was quiet except the wind.

Super Moon Lays Down His Head. He Had a Busy Night!

After a long night of huddling in our respective sleeping bags we noticed the cold, bright light which had illuminated our surroundings had become somewhat warmer and less brilliant as the eastern horizon began to glow a deep blood red. As the moon began to sink towards the horizon in the west and the eastern sky began to fade from red to orange to yellow I scurried about to stay warm as I tried unsuccessfully to make morning tea with a jet-boil. The fuel was frozen and although I managed to get it lit, it didn't burn long enough to warm water, let alone boil it. Another lesson learned. White gas next time.

Nice View To Wake Up To

So, giving up on getting anything hot to drink to warm my bones, I set about the task of recording the almost simultaneous occurrence of the sun peeking over the horizon and the man in the moon laying down his head after a long, busy night. From our vantage, to our east lay relatively flat terrain as the sun and moon rose to race across the sky, but to our west the sun and the moon both laid down to rest in the heart of the White Mountains. Sometimes in life we need to step back and stop focusing on our pitiful little problems and realize the blessing of each new sunrise, each moonset, the wonders of our planet and the solar system, indeed the universe, and how we are a small, but significant part of it all, and sometimes we need a little push from a friend to help us see that again.

Last Look as We Begin Our Descent

Full set of pics HERE: (http://ghostflowers.smugmug.com/White-Mountain-Hikes/Kearsarge-North-Pequawket-319/16286781_nWNX4#1223816956_mTgPw)


03-21-2011, 10:09 PM
Beautiful conclusion and beautiful photographs. Thanks for bringing us along on your trip! Your writing evokes mental images as strong as the photographs.

03-22-2011, 06:31 AM
Simply beautiful Kevin! I know how tough this time has been for you and I'm glad that you got the nudge to celebrate the beginning of spring in such an inspiring way. The pictures are incredible, the story touching. Nuff said. We look forward to spending some time on the trail with you guys soon.

Snow Miser
03-22-2011, 06:59 AM
Beautiful photos and writing Kevin! Thanks for sharing with us. :)

Anna LeBlanc
03-22-2011, 08:19 AM
Thank you for the photos Kevin and your very moving commentary.I wish you and your family a much happier year this year.


03-22-2011, 11:45 AM
Beyond awesome photos, Kevin!

The one item I forgot, a bottle to pee in, meant some cold trips out of the sleeping bag, but also gave me a chance to check the progress of the moon as he raced across the sky.
And you see . . . sometimes things happen for a reason! If you'd remembered the bottle, then you might have missed opportunities for capturing some of the beautiful scenes that you experienced!

KD Talbot
03-22-2011, 01:06 PM
Thanks, all! I know all of you have felt similar feelings and emotions. Thanks for letting me share them here!

03-22-2011, 05:43 PM


I wanted to do something extraordinary for my 100th post, but I cannot think of a better place for it to be than to welcome you back to the environment you love.

It is great to have you once again sharing your photos and stories.

These images blow me away!

Looking forward to seeing you on the trails this summer.

KD Talbot
03-23-2011, 10:00 PM
I am honored that you used your 100th to compliment my photos! Looking forward to seeing you and Hunter at STP, if not sooner!


03-26-2011, 09:23 PM
Fantastic photos, Kevin! Great account of the trip too. I can't even pick a favorite picture...they're all wonderful!

Thanks for sharing,

03-27-2011, 08:26 AM
I just want to repeat what all the others have said, just amazing pictures and comments. Thank you for sharing with us...

Jimmy Legs and Little d
03-28-2011, 02:31 PM
No matter what lifes throws at you, the mountains will always be waiting for your return.
Beautiful, Kevin.