We figured we were owed this trip! This trip came about after completing all town required work on our new home, which, finally, entitled us to a Certificate of Occupancy. (That means we are legally living there now.) We had not done a real back trip in over a year, and we were due for one. This was to be, pretty much, a good shakedown cruise, as it would turn out. We hadn’t been recently so our hiking muscles were not quite in the shape they should be. And our packs were overloaded with stuff we just didn’t need. Sure, some of the stuff we’d bring if we were dragging a sled in the snow, or base camping 5-6 miles in and day hiking, but for a genuine 3 day backpack trip, we just plain had too much gear and were way out of shape for the trail we chose. Just wait ‘til next time, we’ll be ready for it!!! All that said, this actually turned out to be one of our more enjoyable trips!

We started out at the Rt. 49 parking area at the beginning of the Sandwich Mountain trail, near Waterville Valley Ski area in New Hampshire. My pack was 44 lbs. and hers was 34 lbs. We started at elevation 1400 and hiked up to elevation 3240 in 2.7 miles over some very steep areas, some that we didn’t relish the thought of descending with a full pack. That’s a gain of 1840 feet. We were going to take the Drakes Brook trail back. We stopped at the juncture of the two trails and considered what next. Our hearts were beating and our legs were rubber. We had crossed a spring on the trail some 1 tenth of a mile back, and looked at water sources on the map. We weren’t sure we’d get to the next water source, so I headed backwards to fill our Camelbak’s and Nalgenes. We loaded 6 more lbs. into our backpacks and continued up to Jennings peak, on a side trail for the view.

The last section of the klimb to Jennings peak was a heartbreaker with all the extra water. I looked over the area, and thought, what a nice camp site in the trees and some soft needles to sleep on. Then I went to the overlook, and saw the prettiest range of mountains. I was surveying the view, then I noticed she was up the tent site I had seen. It was close to 4 PM. We had not gone as far as we had wanted to, but this was the perfect site! That was it, we made camp there, and got some food into us a little later. Instant potatoes never tasted so good as these did with a chicken and rice mixed pored over it. Another couple came up that heard there was a very nice site up there, and they made camp in another opening very nearby. Suzy ate all her food and laid down to sleep. She is 10 ½ years old and has hiked with me her whole life, but we were concerned for her somewhat. She was to be fine and to enjoy this whole trip.

The next morning, we were going to break camp and go over to Sandwich Mountain, but this was such a nice site, with spectacular views for our dining pleasure, that we closed up everything in our tent and headed to Sandwich Mountain with our day packs instead. We met 5 college aged “kids” hiking over there. They had a 5 month old puppy, part Australian Shepard, very friendly, and with his own food pack, no less! Sandwich Mountain, according to the map was 3980 feet. Then I was told that it actually was 3993 feet up. When I was on the peak and waving, my hand was actually 4000 feet up. Does that count as one of the 48???? Oh well…..

From there, we headed down the Algonquin trail to enjoy some more scenic overlooks. Near to Black Mountain, we found a very ledgy site to have lunch. I found a rather large rock, that I figured, if I could flip it over a couple times, we’d have a very nice seat to enjoy the view. A piece broke off as I was standing it up. I moved quickly, but not quite fast enough. Jeannette had seen it scrape my leg, so I couldn’t act as though nothing happened, while she scolded me. I did get the rock set right, and we enjoyed a nice lunch in the sun, viewing the mountain range. We leisurely headed back to our base camp.

Today’s mileage was to be around 8 ½ miles, compared with yesterday’s pitiful 3 miles. Nice to have a lighter pack, wind in our legs, and some energy in our muscles. On the way back, we gathered some more water. The water source was 4/10 mile from our camp. We did not mind, since the site was sooooo nice. We had commented how we wanted to sleep on top of the mountain, and what a site we had for that. We caught a bit of sunrise on Sunday, but it was not oriented for sun set.

On Monday, we get up, eat breakfast, break camp and prepare to leave. We say our goodbyes to the other couple on the mountain. We were never to catch their names. But they provided some pleasant conversation, while leaving us to some solitude, while they sought their own solitude. She complimented how good our dog, Suzy, was. She was talking to us one morning and Suzy crawled out of her “den” to sniff her and startled her. She had forgotten we had a dog, as Suzy was so quiet and polite, not nosing in on them or barking or leaving “presents” behind.

We descended down the Drakes Brook trail, and made good time. The weather on this trip could not have been better. Sunny and low 70’s, cool at night for sleeping. We cooked up some leftover food before we headed home and took a sponge bath in the stream before changing to head home. We considered a dip in the deep section of the stream, but the water was ankle numbing cold. The trip home was uneventful, capping off a perfect weekend of perfect weather at a great campsite in the wilderness.