Lakes of the Clouds

Lonesome Lake, Hermit Lake, and Carter Notch all brought me here:IMG_0673

The plan was a simple one. I would hike up the Ammonoosuc Ravine trail, stay over at Lakes of the Clouds, and continue the 1.5 miles to the summit of Washington the next morning.  The Cog would be available for an easy ride back down.

Best laid plans. . .

I knew the weather was unpleasant above treeline on Monday with temperatures in the 30’s, 100 feet of visibility and 70 MPH winds. It was supposed to clear overnight.  It did not.  Mother Nature chose to double down by dropping snow on the summit instead.

The hut experience was great, and I intend to go back when I can actually see the view.  Unfortunately I was forced to descend back down the ravine without seeing the summit.  I’ll get there eventually.


Carter Notch Hut

Spring training continued on May 31 with a hike to AMC’s Carter Notch Hut.  The weather was perfect (finally), and I observed a pine marten hunting along the trail while hiking in.IMG_0639

Wildcat ‘A’ is a short side trail from Carter Notch which allowed me to add a 4000-footer to my spring training regime.  The Hut is visible in the lower center of the photo, 1200 feet and 1 hour below.IMG_0640

From the Archives:
Defeated (for now)

Readers of the blog may remember Leroy the farm truck.

Things were going well with Leroy, right up until they weren’t.  Near the end of last winter the brakes failed.  This was only a minor problem, as the truck has a plow blade which makes a very good brake at low speeds.  It really should be fixed, though.  A bit of quick diagnosis revealed a bad master cylinder.

So we parked it.  Who needs a plow truck in July?

When I came back to it this fall, I discovered that the antique battery had given up the ghost.  It’s not a big deal, but the truck has a Franken-battery system to power the plow hydraulics.  The standard (undersized) GM side terminal battery was linked by a pair of long cables to a monstrous standard style battery on the other side of the engine.  Yesterday afternoon was spent rewiring the system so that both would work together properly, and adding a hard wired charger.

It starts, it runs. Yay!

The master cylinder is an inexpensive part, but there are 6 different possible part numbers.  Digging for VIN numbers and build codes ensued.

Installation was easier than I expected.  That’s always a bad sign. . .

Now I stand defeated by the bleeder screws.  I don’t think they’ve been loosened since it left the factory 15 years ago.  I’m done for today.  Tomorrow I will source new ones and come back with the heavy tools.  Right now I intend to sit in the sunroom and watch Netflix with my dog.  It’s not snowing yet.


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Defeated (for now)
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Bring on the mountain (a walk in the woods part 3)

May 24 allowed me to finally set foot on Mt. Washington.  The day remained overcast with a threat of thunder showers, but conditions were OK for a hke.  My initial objective was Hermit Lake at the foot of Tuckerman’s Ravine.  It’s a comon spring hike for me.IMG_0613

I saw only one other hiker on my solitary spring hike.  Hermit Lake shelter was easily reached.  I considered continuing up to the actual base of the ravine, but I was met with ice on the trail above the lake.  As always I was unwilling to contend with ice, so I turned back.  It was a good start.


I paused on the deck at Hermit Lake as a thundershower rolled into the area.  It stayed below me in the valley.

A Walk in the Woods, redux. . .

The training continues.  The day after my fire tower adventure, I headed north.  The weather in the valley remained nice if a bit dry.  The forecast in Franconia Notch was for snow showers as I left for Lonesome Lake Hut.

We had a little more than snow showers.  I was hiking alone and not equipped for heavy winter weather.  I was forced to turn back.  It was a beautiful day though.

The Pemi in the snow is a beautiful thing
Know when to turn back

I returned a week later and finally made it to the hut on May 3.   The weather was still overcast but passable.  The hut was yet to officially open for the season, but I had a nice conversation with the caretaker.

Lonesome Lake


Same spot, one week later.

“I’ll fire you tomorrow, Frank.”

For years I have had a pseudonym, known only to a select few.

It all started innocently. My local pizza place took their takeout orders in the bar, and they apparently used a Sports Illustrated football phone.  They usually got the order right, but it was almost always filed under the wrong name.  My name is a common single syllable one, yet they could not hear it.  In an effort to enjoy my pizza on time, I switched to something with harder consonants.  My nom de pizza was born.

Fast forward to Starbucks.  For some reason they cannot simply make my tea and hand it to me.  They have to have a name which they can write on the cup and shout out loud.  My medic partner at the time also had a simple name which was always mispronounced, so we took to using our Starbucks names regularly.  My nom de pizza became my nom de cafe.

(Brief aside: it was at this point that I realized I had adopted the name of one of my favorite movie paramedics.  I hope it’s just a coincidence. While Frank Pierce is good for a laugh, he’s not really someone I wish to emulate.)

Today I received a call from the post office.  They told me they have begun receiving strange mail addressed to Frank [mylastname] and they were concerned about identity theft.  The mail was from Starbucks.  When I finished lauging out loud, I had to explain my nom de cafe to them.

All is benign, but it is a bit scary how garbage data can get started.  I suspect this will follow me for a long time.

For those who have never seen the movie, enjoy a brief clip of Frank Pierce at his best.  The title of this post will make sense.


Written by Comments Off on “I’ll fire you tomorrow, Frank.” Posted in minimalism

A walk in the woods. . .

Spring is here. With my impending hike of Mount Washington, I have felt the urge to get out on the trails and warm up a bit.  Yesterday I had an hour to spare, so I took a brief trek to the fire tower at Pawtuckaway State Park.

Best laid plans. . .

I took a wrong turn and explored a few extra miles of fire roads and Jeep trails with Mrs. Mack505’s truck.  Her 7000lb, 2500 series, 4-door GMC Denali Diesel truck.  I made it to the trailhead without a scratch somehow.

The trail is a short jaunt measuring 0.4 miles from parking lot to tower.  It’s a popular and highly recommended hike to a good lunch spot.  I found the tower manned with a ranger straight out of a 1960’s Disney film.  He had gray hair, wire rimmed glasses, a red and black checked flannel shirt, and a pleasant demeanor.

The day was dry and windy, a Class 4 in ranger-speak.  The radio crackled with conversation among the fire towers.

Before I could say hello the radio reported heavy black smoke in our vicinity.  We both looked out and saw nothing; then I moved slightly to one side and this popped out of the blind spot of the tower:


That would be a barn fire just down the road from our farm.  Fire units were delayed because many of them had to respond from another neighboring fire. The radio traffic was interesting.

I would have gone to ‘buff’ it.  Alas I did not have time to spare.  I bid the ranger ‘good day’ and hiked onward to my next appointment.

The Minimalism Game: retrospective

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Well I did it. 31 days of downsizing.  There’s the evidence scrolling by. In the beginning, it was difficult to restrain myself; I’ve been bitten by the disposal bug.  I never had a day which I found hard, although I did double up to make up for days spent at work.

They say the average American home has 30,000 things in it.  We are probably more fortunate than average.  After removing 508 items, you wouldn’t know it if you walked into my house.  I can point out specific areas of improvement, but there is still a lot to do.

How to continue is the question.  Part of me is tempted to continue ratcheting the count upwards until I cannot sustain it.  The problem is that 25 or so items does a good job of filling my car.  For the last week my wagon has looked like I live in it, and the folks at Goodwill are beginning to recognize me.

I could reset the calendar, but getting rid of only one thing on April 1 seems a failure after such success.

I averaged slightly over 15 items per day for the month, so I think that is a good benchmark.  I will strive to continue removing at least 15 things per day for as long as possible.  Wish me luck.

(If you get the blog via email, you may need to click through to see the slideshow.)