(Just Trish, not Alex -- Trish's slow slow grid work)
Caps Ridge Trail, Link Trail, Castle Trail to summit, Caps Ridge back down to car (loop hike).
Total miles: just under 7, exact count later.
There are no pictures for this trip report. There would have been, but the Link Trail ate my camera. I'll explain later.
We got into Campton very late last night, since Hugh had to work at MIT later than usual. Therefore, I did not get to bed until 1am, and I got up at 5am, so I was running on 4 hours of broken sleep.
Got to the trailhead by 6:30. Started off, having had no breakfast or coffee, and on very little sleep. The first 1.1 miles were easy and as I remember from the first time around. A few moderate pitches, mostly easy, good footing. However, it took me a while to get into it, having had little sleep and no coffee.
Came to the Link Trail, and I decided to take it and then summit using the Castle Trail.
The White Mountain book describes this trail as being heavily eroded, with difficult footing.
That would be a huge understatement!!! Though this trail did not ascend or descend much (it's a connector path between ascending/descending trails), it was overgrown and BADLY eroded. I mean VERY badly. Countless times I put my hiking poles on what looked like solid ground, only to have that bit of trail fall away beneath my feet and go sliding down the mountain. Trees were overturned everywhere, and I had to climb over many root systems. I'd step on boulders (with trail blazes on them) and they'd go toppling over and off the path. There were animal dens everywhere around and underneath the trail. I'm sure I walked on the ceiling of a hundred animal homes today. The path itself was narrow, and tree branches grew over the middle. I gave up avoiding spider webs and leaves after the first half mile and just accepted that I'd come off this trail covered with all kinds of stuff, from head to toe.
Then...after around 1.5 miles of this godforsaken path...my camera slipped off my backpack strap and fell to the ground. Then it slid into an animal den, under a tree root system. Arg!
I put my pack down, got out my headlamp, and shined it down into the dirt tunnel. I could see the camera, it was WAY down there. The hole was only big enough for my arm to reach through, not my shoulder. I tried a hiking pole. Nope, didn't reach. I overextended a hiking pole. Still a negative. I taped two hiking poles together, end to end, and then tried to fish it out. I could reach the camera, but I could not catch it to bring it up the shaft. The dirt walls were too loose, the camera just kept slipping back downward after I brought it up a bit. I took out my cord and tried creating a slipknot, but I couldn't get it around the camera. I lay on the ground with my arm sticking in the hole for almost an hour, trying everything I could think of to get the damn thing out. I could see it plainly, but in the end I just could not retrieve the thing.
Finally, I realized that I had been lucky thus far -- no animal had come through one of the other tunnels of that hole to bite me for being so intrusive...and I bade a very sad, fond farewell to my little camera. I put a very small strip of blaze orange tape on one of the upturned roots over the hole. The hole is maybe .1 miles from the intersection with the Castle Trail. If anyone happens to be going along that path in the foreseeable future and can fish the thing out, I'd be eternally grateful. However, I understand it's most likely gone for good. Pooh.
Now royally pissed off, frustrated, and covered in dirt from lying on the ground for so long, I continued along the Link Trail and found the Castle Trail intersection. I went up up up on the Castle Trail. This trail was lovely! I climbed over each of the Castles (large, tall outcrops of rocks that look like...well, castles). Views into ravine systems and valleys, the feeling of walking in the sky, etc. It was lovely. However, the whole time I was ticked that I couldn't take pictures.
After much hard work and a fair bit of rock scrambling, I came to the summit cone of Jefferson. Lots of rock-hopping, and I was at the top.
Met up with a fellow named Andrew. He's a member of a local hiking group near Boston. We'd made contact yesterday -- he was planning on doing Adams and then Jefferson, and he wanted to know if anyone wanted to join him. I had told him I'd perhaps see him on Jefferson. I was amazed he was there. I thought my hour of camera-fishing would have cost me our meeting. However, turns out he had just gotten there. He's a nice fellow, and I hope to see him on future hikes soon.
We ate together, then he started heading back toward Adams, and I headed down the Caps Ridge Trail. There had been a bit of fog and very slight drizzle that morning, but overall the views were good, and getting better by the hour.
While climbing down the middle Cap, I looked to my right and saw -- the most beautiful, vivid rainbow I have ever seen. The top of it was beneath the second Cap, and it extended from the side of Jefferson over toward Adams. It was so bright and clear, it seemed as though my girls had drawn it with their oil pastels. There was a second, much fainter rainbow above the main one. It was spectacular. I sat there and took it all in. I was simultaneously breathless at the beauty of it and supremely annoyed at not being able to take a picture.
Came down from the Caps and made short work of the easy bit of trail in the trees.
Got back to the car and found out Hugh had called 5 times. I was late in getting back from the hike and he was worried. I explained what had happened with the camera. As I spoke with him, I heard the girls in the background. Sage was upset, having thought I had died (!), and Alex was angry at me for having gone on a hike without her. This, of course, after she had said she did not want to hike this weekend. We had spoken about this extensively yesterday -- she knew it might rain, so she wanted to wait. She knew I was going to a mountain we had already done. But still, she ended up being angry that I went without her. Tonight she keeps asking me if we can go together tomorrow (we can't, we have plans as a family together). Times like this reinforce that she's doing all this hiking for the love of it, not for me. The two times I have hiked here without her (when she's said she didn't want to go), I've gotten royal 5-year-old attitude upon my return.
So, an interesting day. A good hike -- it kicked my bootie, I am so NOT in shape. Weather turned out fine, hooray! Now no more hikes for a couple of weeks. And I must get a new camera.