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Nature is so freaking relaxing

mount tom

These things always look so easily do-able on the trail map. A short, sharp climb from the car and then a gentle meander along the ridge-top to Mount Tom.

Hahaha. Idiot.

It was an evil mile and a half of basalt towers, crumbly shale and thousand-foot plunges. This section of the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail runs right along the Western edge of this huge pile of rock to Mount Tom. I’m mildly acrophobic (my hiking buddy is slightly more so, lucky for me or I might have been dared into something stupid).

There were parts of the trail we both blinked at in stunned disbelief, while clinging each to a tree twenty feet away. One memorable section was a rock three feet long and eighteen inches wide on which half of the white paint blaze had crumbled away and fallen into the abyss. I did some bits on my hands and knees, and some bits on my butt and a lot of it nowhere near the official trail markers.

None of my pictures show the full horror, as I was generally yards inland, clinging to something and making low moaning noises, so I stole a more representative picture from somebody else (and I didn’t even have the grace to note who I stole it from). I mean, c’mon…this is a trail?

So we got all the way down to the toe and suddenly realized it had taken us three and a half hours to get where we were, there was an hour and a half before dusk and the closing of the gates, and there was no way on God’s crumbly basalt earth we had the stamina to turn around and go back the way we came. In the dark. With a pocket flashlight.

I voted we go West, to the foot of the hill. There was a paved forest road at the bottom that would make an easy walk back to the car in plenty of time. I mean, sure, it was 1,200 feet down, but I felt certain we could find a tree-line spot where we could safely butt-surf to the bottom.

But no. We went down the gentler slope East and landed on the main road several miles from the car, half an hour before gate-closing. We didn’t exactly hitch-hike, but we found a man walking in the woods with several children and made with the doe-eyes until he gave us a ride to the car.

And that was the stupidest day hike I have ever done. The end.


Comment from apotheosis
Time: November 3, 2008, 1:02 pm

All I can say about that “representative picture” is that I think TC better appreciate the lengths SS went to express his/her love.

Comment from porknbean
Time: November 3, 2008, 1:17 pm

Did you ever see that ‘death trail’ video from somewheres in S. America? Does anyone know what I’m talking about…the name of the place?
I saw that and had to turn it off. I got nauseous and had to be ‘unclinged’ from the back of my chair.

Comment from Moron Pundit
Time: November 3, 2008, 1:22 pm

Perhaps the stupidest but also certainly one of the most memorable.

It reminds me of a time I was up a rather impressive box canyon in Utah about an hour’s climb away from base camp when a thunder storm started to roll in. Not the best scenario.

An hour later, my brother and I finally emerged from our emergency cave.

Comment from Pupster
Time: November 3, 2008, 1:24 pm

Day hike from hell. I can dig it.

I usually try to read up on teh intertubes on my prospective hike, but I find most documentation to be severely lacking in detail, or the details do not match the current trail conditions. Even the little maps at the trail head are full of crap for the most part.

Actually, I like looking at maps and reading about hiking better than actually, you know, hiking.

Comment from apotheosis
Time: November 3, 2008, 1:35 pm

Did you ever see that ‘death trail’ video from somewheres in S. America? Does anyone know what I’m talking about…the name of the place?

This one?

Definitely bad. But not as pants-crappingly awful as that “Most Dangerous Tourist Hiking Trail (China)” on the same page.

I’m not afraid of heights, if they’re natural. Meaning if it’s a trail or something that was already there, that’s one thing…but if I’m up on (or in) heights in something man-made that can break down, I am not a happy camper.

So that trail of planks sitting on pegs driven into a sheer cliff face with nothing but a length of rusty chain to hold onto would pretty much be right out of the question.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 3, 2008, 1:43 pm

Ohhh. Ohhhhhhhh. The planks and the chains. That’ll turn up in my dreams.

Comment from Farmer Joe
Time: November 3, 2008, 2:02 pm

Yeah, I’ve done that. Up in Franconia Notch. Sprained my ankle on the way down, and it got GOOD and stiff over night. I walked with a cane for two weeks and limped for several months.

Comment from porknbean
Time: November 3, 2008, 2:25 pm

YES! The Bolivia one. I think it was over at Ace’s some time ago, someone posted the hiking trail video. Someone had a camera on them as they hiked it. Planks, chains, rotted boards over deep caverns….I’ll have to check if I saved that. WTF would anyone do that for fun?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 3, 2008, 2:40 pm

Did you see this at Ace’s? I can’t quite work out how they got such good caricatures using thumbs and green screen, but it’s very well done.

God help me, it still makes me want to vote McCain.

Comment from James
Time: November 3, 2008, 2:52 pm

El Camino Del Rey

Comment from porknbean
Time: November 3, 2008, 3:07 pm

Thank you James! That is the one. Brrrrrr…brrr…br.

Watch that one weasel. You will piss your pants where you sit.
I do have nightmares where I’m in my car and the highway turns into rails high in the sky and I have to keep my wheels on the rails so as not to fall into the abyss. Up and down and over I go..then I wake up with a pounding heart and sweaty pits.

Comment from porknbean
Time: November 3, 2008, 3:13 pm

Watching that video is how I’ve been feeling about the election. On the precipice of doooooommmmm….

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 3, 2008, 3:37 pm

Can’t watch it until I get home. YouTube. Work. Never the twain shall meet.

I think I just had a little episode, sitting here at my desk thinking about everything I have to do in the next month. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure my head just spun around 360º. Huh.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: November 3, 2008, 3:53 pm

You know we’d help if we could, Stoaty.

Don’t know about you, but I sometimes just get totally overwhelmed. I find that if I just pick one fookin’ thing – just one! – and get it done, then the whole picture gets brighter. And each time I get ONE THING done, it gets better.

My half-groat, anyway.

Comment from porknbean
Time: November 3, 2008, 4:02 pm

Keep a written list handy too weasel, so’s you don’t forget or overlook anything.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: November 3, 2008, 4:05 pm

What PnB said.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: November 3, 2008, 5:44 pm

Just think if you had to drive THIS road to work and back….. 😉


Comment from porknbean
Time: November 3, 2008, 5:54 pm

Scubafreak, go up 7 and then 12 posts.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 3, 2008, 7:53 pm

Oof! I’m glad I got good and likkered up before clicking on any of the YouTubes.

Comment from Allen
Time: November 3, 2008, 8:27 pm

Here ya go Weasel. I scarfed this from someone else. Part of the Pacific Crest Trail, where I ride me horse and pull the pack dude.

“You guys better not fuck-up or we are dead,” tends to run through my mind.

Comment from Nortius Maximus
Time: November 3, 2008, 9:35 pm

Woops, failed to not send before finishing. Message continues:

…and even there the scale is too small to tell you much about the footing, etc. But a clue might be present if the trail rides a ridge, as you discovered.

There there are fun things like scree piles and washouts…

Few things beat an accurate current assessment from someone experienced in a specific hike, maybe someone like a Ranger or (less good) a “pro” at REI…

Comment from Allen
Time: November 4, 2008, 12:26 am

Bottled the 2007 vintage… Quality control… Hic, whoa I’m ready for the election.

On the upside I received my distillers license. Change you can drink to.

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