With three perfect days down in our four day weekend we could have just packed up, taken a nice drive, had lunch and headed home and been perfectly satisfied. We had started the weekend out with the idea of adding a few new checkmarks to our 4k list but we had been lead down other paths (and not been unhappy about it in the least). With three great days of hiking though we really had the bug and just going home on another beautiful fall day without one last hike would just be a sin. And if that hike happened to be a peak that wasn't yet on the list, well so much the better. We needed to be home on the early side and anticipating the holiday traffic (or under-anticipating as it turned out) we had to find something fairly quick. Mt Hale fit the bill perfectly on all counts.
Heading up Crawford Notch for the third straight morning we encountered none of the locals that we had on the previous days. We were greeted by only sunny blue skies which was just fine! We got to the Hale Brook trailhead at a bit past 8:30 and headed out. Unfortunately by the time we got there the skies had clouded over and the blue sky that we'd pictured seeing through the birches was not to be. The trail was nice all the way up and the clouds did nothing to dampen our spirits. We passed a couple of obviously early starters who were most of the way back down by the time we started, but for the most part we had the place to ourselves on the way up.
On the summit we headed to the top of the cairn to see if we could get any glimpse of views but no such luck. It was quite breezy and cold on the summit (although after Moosilauke on Saturday this felt relatively balmy). Checking #22 off the list we haeded back down to make a bee-line for lunch and to beat the traffic home. Part way down we passed a couple of hikers on the way up. I was wearing my 2010 Seek the Peak shirt and one of them commented "Seek the Peak - nice!" as we breezed by. I almost stopped to ask if they'd done STP but we were in heads down mode and I just mumbled "thanks" and we kept moving. Turns out that it was MelNino from the OBS forum who was doing some weekend peak bagging. I'm now really that I didn't stop and say hi. We really shouldn't ever be in that much of a hurry in the woods. Sorry Mel.
We we back down at noon and headed over to Highland Center for a bowl of soup and chili before heading home. As it turned out we didn't beat the traffic after all and our usual 3-1/2 hour drive home turned into over 5 - but even that couldn't do anything to spoil and absolutely fantastic fall weekend in our mountain home away from home!!!
Hale Brook Trail
A break in the clouds brings out the real autumn beauty
Can't even find a view up here - but who cares!
All the pics (but no more views) here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mtruman42/MtHale101110#