April in New Hampshire can be hit or miss with severe weather and I was fortunate….. until I decided to go for a summit hike to Camels Hump.
After following a dirt road into the middle of nowhere, I finally stumbled upon the trailhead with only 2 other cars in sight. The trail began in a lush forest following a serene stream. Chilly but refreshing. With a steady climb, I quickly stripped off my beanie and gloves while enjoying this calm retreat deep into nature.
Ready for a 6 mile round trip trek gaining elevation rapidly, I should have known my adventure was bound to become hairy. Midway through my uphill quest, the wet rocks became slick as ice encased each step. My pace slowed considerably and I did everything I could to avoid questionable areas. Which I should mention is big growth as I’ve always just plowed forward regardless of the risk.
The last quarter mile added in deep snowpack and I seriously contemplated turning back, as the winds and chill factor dipped into the low teens. The final push to the summit was excruciatingly cold and snail like, but I braved the steep ledges and snow/ice caking all the trees. With overcast skies, I wasn’t optimistic the summit view would prove to be worthwhile but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Peering out to the mountain ridge, the peaks were so majestic and surreal. High above civilization it was breathtaking and worth the extra effort. And after 15 minutes, I knew I had to retreat to a lower elevation.
However, the trek down would prove to be even more challenging. I passed a few avid hikers that were shocked I made it up the treacherous pass without shoe spikes and were even more curious to learn how I would make it back down unscathed. Yikes!
It didn’t start on a good note, as my first fall occurred only 100 yards from the top. I slipped on an icy patch, thankfully in my behind, and ended up sliding down almost 100 yards on my own snow slide. Equally thrilling and frightening. I eventually stopped with my foot catching on an exposed tree root. It took a while to regain some confidence, but I slowly made my way between trees and making my own path for what seemed like hours.
Again I emerged from the woods without any major mishaps (besides losing just one of my fav gloves) and another great trek to remember! (And thankful I tackled this one by myself, as I don’t think anyone would have enjoyed this crazy adventure and would have surely cursed me out multiple times.)