Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Grandkids at Camp

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The best times of the summer is when our kids share their kids with us at Camp Johnson.
There were lots of good times. Colby's first swim in Long lake, Chase, soloing in a kayak on a really windy day. It was tough getting it back to shore; but you did it, buddy! How about throwing ringers in horseshoes? Evan rigging the new sailboat and taking his first solo sail, and staying upright in a real breeze, making us all proud.
Each of the boys took Papa on a special outing. Chase took me to NH. looking for waterfalls and a place to "skinny dip". We found both. Evan dragged me up Mt. Washington in the rain and back down on a cold, windy, beautiful day. Both boys found time to play with guys their age.
In early posts each child has his/her own page. Check them out.

A special thanks to Erica and Doug, and Nolan and Katie for sharing. We love you.

Colby at Camp Johnson

Colby's first visit to our Maine
camp was a great success. She arrived using one word. "Duck" (noun). By the time she left she was saying "Papa". That girl is a quick learner. Here is just a glimpse of a busy fun filled week.
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Sleeping beauty. Doing stairs by herself.

Dancing to the Beach Boys With Papa. Checking out her own menu. Safe with Daddy.

Lunch time.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Chase and Papa Looking for Waterfalls

Six year old Chase and his Papa put on matching shirts and headed out to New Hampshire to find waterfalls. Our first stop was the Glenn Ellis Falls trail head. The falls are found after walking through a tunnel that goes under Route 16 and then striding about 600 hundred yards to the Ellis River. There a trail takes you to the bottom of a powerful 64-foot waterfall.

Chase found it very compelling to try to out-yell the roar of the falls.
According to Native American legend, if you look hard into the mist created by the falls, you can see the shapes of two people hand in hand. These were lovers from different tribes who plunged to their deaths together over the falls when the woman, the daughter of the chief, was promised to someone else. We looked hard but could not see the images. Maybe next time.

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Our second stop was Wildcat Mountain Ski Area where we found the trail leading to Thompson Falls. Above the falls Thompson Brook has a series of cascades, riffles, and pools. To follow the trail to the top you have to cross the brook which makes for some fun scrambling. It did not take Chase long before the shoes came off and he was looking for a place to swim.
Having left the swim suit at camp he set out to find a private pool so he could go for a "skinny dip".
This was a great place for an all day adventure.
1.4miles round trip with an elevation gain of 200 feet. The trail guide said 1-2 hours but we made it last much longer. On the way home we enjoyed the Johnson hiking tradition of stopping at the first ice cream store. Thankfully, in the White Mountains you do not have to travel far to find them.
Thanks, Chase, for helping me have a great time. Your Papa.

The pool on the right was his own private pool.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mt. Washington Hike 2011

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Every year when my grandsons come to stay with us in Maine I try to find them a new challenge. Now they are being more of a challenge for me. This blog entry is about Evan's 2011 challenge.

Mt. Washington via Ammonoosuc Trail is a popular trail -at times seemingly straight up- to the AMC's Lake of the Clouds Hut (5010'). It is a 3.1 mile hike to the hut with an elevation gain of 2400 feet. Just an easy 3 hour hike. It is our plan (that is Evan's and his PaPa's) on day one to hike to the hut and spend the night. The second day to continue on to the summit of Mt. Washington (1.4 miles and a gain of 1278'). We will descend using the 5 mile Jewell Trail. This being the Presidential Range we pass near peaks named after presidents. In our pictures we will show you Mt. Clay and Mt. Monroe.

Planning this trip we consulted four White Mountain hiking books. The first chapter in all four of these books was about their famous or infamous weather. There were lots of reminders that most injuries and deaths in these mountains are due to bad weather, followed by bad judgement, and not being prepared for the worst. We prepared for wet, cold, fog and high winds and that is what we got. It rained all day the first day. Fog and high winds plus 97 other wet hikers greeted us at the hut. We made it in 3 hours. After a great meal and a good night's sleep we awoke to a crystal clear cold windy day. At breakfast time the report from the top of Mt. Washington was 45 mph winds and 45 degrees with a chill factor at 0 degrees.

What follows is Evan's 155 word version of the trip.

The Time Papa & I Hiked up Mt. Washington

Twas a cold and stormy day, we got all sort-of-snug in our ponchos, wind breaker, and fleece and we headed out into the damp forest. We hoisted our heavy packs up on our shoulders and strapped up for the long climb ahead of us. After an amazingly long stretch of damp woods we slowly crept out into the unforgiving, slick, and rocky landscape. Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn at a twisted sign and got lost in a tunnel of wet branches and moss! Uh-oh, now our boots, clothes, and skin are even more soaked!!! Finally, we found the trail and climbed the last stretch to the hut, Hooray! We had a great 4-course supper and a good night’s sleep before the final day of our hike. The next morning we summited Mount Washington and, after seeing the 100-mile view, we began the long journey down.

As you can see the last mile is mostly in the waterway. Not so bad in the dry season. Click on pictures to make them larger.

These pictures are on top and on the way down. The hut pictures are from a previous hike. ( see Sept. 09). The first day and early the second the camera refused to cooperate. Click on pictures to enlarge.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hedgehog Mountain Payoff

Our friend, Janet, a fellow Texan and Maine neighbor, and Clay and I plan a weekly hike somewhere in the White Mountains or nearby mountains in Maine. The hikes start early, climb to some payoff - a pool or a view, include a picnic lunch, and ALWAYS an ice cream reward on the way home. This week it was Hedgehog Mountain in the White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire. In the guidebook it is listed as 4.8 miles, moderate rating, climbing 1350 feet to its high point of 2535 feet. There were views almost in all directions, narrow ledges near the top to edge around, and one boulder that I had to scramble up and over on my hands and knees. It was a beautiful day and the best of the weather predicted for the week, so, though we were first on the trail many more scrambled up to the top after us while we enjoyed our lunch.

An unexpected payoff was found during our lunch. High in a bare spruce snag nearby we spied a pair of cedar waxwings.
Just like us they had migrated from Texas or perhaps a little further south to feast on the plentiful blueberries of the White Mountains. While we ate the pair kept up a steady stream of chirps and an occasional swooping foray from the snag down into the bushes and back. A little investigation showed us the reason for their anxious chirping.

Three fledglings, well behaved, sat still as stone in the bush, their body language saying "we are twigs, we are twigs, you don't see us, you don't see us." They didn't move at all for the thirty minutes or so we observed them. If you notice their tail feathers have yellow tips that indicates the types of fruit pigments they have been ingesting.

We didn't divulge their cover to the others coming up the trail. We headed home down the loop trail happy to have this unexpected payoff for long climb to the top of Hedgehog Mountain.