Yes, I’m back in New Jersey, fresh from the family cottage on beautiful, wild Lake Winnipesaukee, where one day it’s calm as a mirror and the next day ushers in a three day “blow” that is reminiscent of the ocean. Breakers crashing over you as you stand on a ledge of rocks way out in the water. Kayaks and sailboats dipping and nearly capsizing. Winds blowing warm air during the sunny days and cold air during the night. This is my special heaven, where I swim early each morning way out to greet the sun as it pokes through the row of pines above the cottage. No matter where I go, nothing can top this.
Lots of hiking this year as well. Daughter Martha Peterson, grandson Thomas Bixler, and I made the usual trip up the Amphibrach trail to Crag Camp (a Randolph Mountain Club cabin), which is perched 4,000 ft. on King’s Ravine on the way to Mt. Washington. This year it was glorious, even when we awoke in the morning. But one hour later…rain and wind. Down we slid, soaked, having enjoyed the special mystery and discomfort of steady rain on the rocks. The challenge was to stay aloft. We did!
Rebecca Magill and 4-year-old Amaya joined Thomas, his friend, Pam Hershberg, daughter Martha and me to go up to Champney Falls on Mt. Chocorua (our family’s favorite mountain). Like crazies, we all swam in one of the mountain pools beneath the Falls. Nobody wanted to be called chicken. Even me. Now that’s a way to get the blood flowing in your veins!
My Godson, Scott Bennett (www.scottbennettart.com), a well known artist, and his friend, Dechteres Lazides, a water colorist (www.yessyart.com), visited, as did additional family members—Martha’s husband, Gary Shippy, Cally, and her friend, Troy.
The highlight of the summer was a trip up the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail to the AMC cabin, Lakes of the Clouds, just beneath the summit of Mt. Washington. This is where my children and Judy and Sylvia Wyman used to camp…right on the rocks beneath the Falls. No more. It’s forbidden. Way back then we had the mountain almost to ourselves.
No matter how many times I cross the many streams and falls, sometimes hand-over-hand, it thrills me to come up over the boulders and see the cabin, home of hikers and through-hikers (those doing the Appalachian Trail) welcoming me. Martha and Gary went on to Mizpah, the fanciest and noisiest of the AMC cabins, and then down the Crawford Path the next day. Thomas and I hurried back to the car and the usual soft ice cream reward. As I was sliding down some of the boulders (having forgotten my climbing poles and not wanting to fall on my face), Thomas looked up at me and said, “Now I know how you can climb at your advanced age…you do it on your butt.”
“Not so, I replied. I don’t climb on my butt!” So much for smart aleck kids.
This may not seem like a travel-related blog, but there are many people from around the world, and many Canadians closer by, who come to the peaceful and challenging White Mountains to see if they can withstand the world’s most terrible weather (at times, 256 mph winds on the summit of Mt. Washington) and clamber up trails as difficult as anything I experienced in the Himalayas. Just ask my friend, Jon Pollack, with whom I climb in the Olympics and Cascades most years. When he visited three years ago at the time of my disastrous accident on the summit (remember the broken wrist and cut chin?), he was heard to yell on his way up…”Where the hell is the trail, Meg?” Hey, Jon, you’re on it. It’s just a pile of rocks. Get used to it.
So it’s back to the “monkey mind,” the stress of suburbia, and the excitement of the theater and my morning ritual with Jon Stewart (I’m big on taping. Hate commercials). I miss the solitude and the physicality of the lake and mountains, but I’M HEALTHY AT LAST! Goodbye giardia. Hello happiness. I’m working on some new ideas for a book, so stay with me. No Ladakh this September, but it will be there next year…after Kilimanjaro.
For foreign travel news grab daughter Cary’s blog. She has called several times as she comes in and out of Tibet. Right now you can follow her into the caves near Lhasa. How I envy her!