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View Full Version : Wind gods Rule the Ridgeline: Mount Abraham/Lincoln Peak Vermont 9/19-20/11



KD Talbot
09-22-2011, 04:32 PM
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Serene Scene was Soon to Change

Mount Abraham 4006' / Lincoln Peak 3975'

Long Trail/ Monroe Skyline

6.8 Miles 1850' Elevation gain

Kevin, Bob and Emma

Somehow I have to prove to Vermont that I love her Green Mountains as much as my beloved White Mountains here in my chosen state of New Hampshire. It seems she is jealous of my wanderings here in these hills so much so that when I go to visit her she calls the weather gods down to do all they can to make my visits, well, less than they could be. Things always start out innocently enough, "Hi, I'm here! I've come to enjoy your beautiful rolling hills and lovely trails." Well, you kind of caught me by surprise. You see, I'm having a beautiful day. I didn't know you'd be coming, but good to see you!" "I know, a beautiful day indeed. I spent 4 hours in the car wishing I was outside strolling along your beautiful countryside, taking in your wonderful views." "Well, why don't you start out along the Long Trail. Head north from Lincoln Gap. It's lovely up on Mount Abraham this afternoon!"

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Southern View from Mount Abraham

And indeed, she was right, it WAS lovely up on Mount Abraham! The air was just right, and despite my 40lb. pack I barely broke a sweat along the easy grades that offer such excellent footing. We packed along a sun-dappled trail. Emma would bound along filled with the inner-puppy she feels when the conditions are cool and mild. Bob and I talked of our years spent in vested servitude and wondered how we ever got through it all, and how it came to be that it was over and now we once again had our freedom. Freedom to set off on an endeavor such as this on a day most people spent grinding away in their own various hell-holes. Yes. Life was good, and we had worked long and hard to get here. So with pride in our accomplishments and thankfulness for our new found freedom, we hiked along upward towards the bald head of Mount Abraham.

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Summit Girl

As we approached the summit and began to get the views all around us I marveled at the rolling hills below us. There were patches of open fields where I knew tall corn stood in between the darker patches of forest. There were ponds and rivers to see, as well as buildings and villages with roads and bridges. To my west the sun shone on Lake Champlain which stretched from north to south as far as I could see like a golden metallic ribbon. Beyond Champlain I could see the Adirondacks rising above the landscape. I have never been. I know now I must go. Vermont was showing me her best! Far to my east I could see along the horizon my beloved White Mountains, from north to south the Mahoosucs, the Presidential Range, Franconia Ridge and the Kinsman Ridge. Like an anchor to the south was the mass of Moosilauke. She must have known I was looking at someone else. It began to cloud up in the west.

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Looking North

After setting up camp near Lincoln Peak we watched as the sun dipped towards the multiple peaks of the Adirondacks and begin to disappear behind the clouds. We had a quick supper. Emma devoured her food as she always does in the mountains. There was a gentle breeze and we continued to watch the sky in the west as long gray wisps of clouds spread out their fingers toward us. The weatherman, the last I checked, had said there was a possibility of a few showers in the morning, but that the rain should hold off until the afternoon. We could tell the temperature was dropping and as the sky darkened we soon turned in, Emma and I into the tent we called home on these trips, and Bob into his bivy several yards away.

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Another View South

Inside the tent the wind rippled the fly and it was pretty calm as I lay down my head. Then it started: the wind began to pick up. I thought about it. We were not exactly in a sheltered spot where I set up. Hopefully it won't get worse. It revved up some more. I thought about climbers on high summits sitting for hours, even days for the wind to die down. Ahhh, suck it up! It's not so bad! The wind cranked up another notch. I confessed to Vermont, "Yes. I had been looking at other peaks." The rain-fly was whipping so bad I couldn't hear myself think. I began to think: "Maybe I should think about moving the tent to a more sheltered spot."

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Sunset on Champlain

I waited. How bad could it get? Now it was impossible to sleep. Somehow Emma kept her head down and tried. The wind was making the tent collapse and expand in an unrelenting motion. I thought about moving again, but I was afraid if I got out of the tent it would blow away in the night and I'd be in real trouble. I sat up and turned my headlamp on. When I moved my legs off of the sleeping mat that whole end of the tent lifted up off the ground. Emma was right up in the air, still nestled on the mat. She jumped off. This was crazy! It was time to move! I waited for a lull, none came.

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View East to White Mountains on the Horizon

I reached out into the vestibule and pulled everything inside the tent. My backpack, my tripod, my hiking poles, my boots. Emma and I jumped out and I zipped the tent with one hand and tried to hold onto it for dear life with the other. Even with all my gear in it it was trying to go airborne. I grabbed it with both hands and dragged it down the steep slope beside where I set up. 50 yds down the slope I pushed it in against the trees out of the prevailing winds. Emma climbed back in with me. I had spilled water all over everything. We did our best to snuggle back in. The tent was out of the wind for the moment, but jealous Vermont told the wind gods where we were and soon the demons were pushing from all directions again.

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Wind gods Stretch Their Fingers Towards Monroe Skyline

Things were better than they were, but not much. During lulls I began to hear the patter of raindrops. I wondered how Bob was faring. I wondered if he would awake and think we had packed up and fled, or worse, blown off the mountain. Day light came. Bob found us. We packed up as quickly as we could and headed out. Enough was enough! By the time we reached Abraham the wind had subsided. The rain was gentle, but we were already soaked. We scrambled along the wet ledges back towards Lincoln Gap. I am seldom so glad to be done with a hike and back to my car. How will I explain to Vermont it was all a mistake? I wasn't really interested in those other peaks, it was hers I was interested in. I hope someday she lets me back in...

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Hasty Retreat

Full set of pics HERE: (http://ghostflowers.smugmug.com/White-Mountain-Hikes/Mount-AbrahamMount-Lincoln-919/19144746_LFwgnG#1491261938_7VbNmTm)

KDT

Snow Miser
09-23-2011, 07:57 AM
What a harrowing experience! Glad you three finally made out okay. And I'm sure Vermont isn't too upset with you looking at the other mountains far off in the distance. :)

DMOutdoors
09-23-2011, 04:58 PM
This trip report had me on the edge of my seat! I only have a day to hike this weekend, but I'm thinking about getting the VT 4Ks before the end of the year, so it was interesting to read your experience as I was planning. I'm glad you all were ok. The pictures sure don't depict your experience. I'm sure at some point I will encounter a freaky mother nature event on a hike. Sometimes the views with endless mountains are better than the ones with steep dramatic heights. I hope VT will be nice to me. Last night, I watched Les Stroud's trip through the Andes on his show Beyond Survival, and the indigenous ritual is to ask Mother Nature for permission to travel through, perhaps I will do that first! The pictures are incredible as always, and thanks for sharing.

mtruman
09-24-2011, 08:02 AM
Wow, what a night! I had an image in my mind of Emma being picked up and carried away on those winds like Toto from Kansas. The pictures are spectacular. The one of the "Wind Gods stretching their fingers..." certainly makes the right backdrop for the story. Hope they are a little kinder to you in the future and let you really enjoy the beautiful VT hills.