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Thread: Osceolas, Aug. 2, trip report

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    Default Osceolas, Aug. 2, trip report

    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.
    Last edited by TrishandAlex; 08-03-2008 at 11:20 AM.

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    Default Ax

    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

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    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.

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    I'm never without my counter assault. Would work equally as well on an ax slayer as it would on a bear. Just make sure it's within reach.
    ~Rich

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrishandAlex View Post
    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.
    ~Rich

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    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.

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    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?!?!
    "I've learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but that all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it."
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    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.
    Steve
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    Quote Originally Posted by WSR88D View Post
    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.

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