Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Adventure With Alex has some big announcements to make for 2014 but first a look back at last year! AwA had 26 posts last year, averaging 2 a month. The busiest day of the year was July 26th with 130 views. The post that day was Alex’s first 4000 footer! Mount Washington!.

Lake in The Clouds, Mount Washington

Lake in The Clouds, Mount Washington

Top 4 runners up:

AwA joined Facebook, and quickly got 114 likes! Our email subscribers grew to 164! I’m estatic to think that sharing our adventures is encouraging other families to create some of their own adventures! Alex also had his first rock climb, and first plane trip!

Watching the development of Alex from infant to toddler has been the single most amazing thing I have ever experienced. While I’ve seen nieces and nephews transform though family visits the day to day changes are so surreal. New words and connections are made almost every day. Hysterical moments of toddler misinterpretation often result. Even the frustrating moments when his budding independence seems like in-your-face defiance… I am trying hard not to miss any of it.


So what’s on the agenda for 2014? Well, many who know me are aware my winter guiding schedule does not allow for much free time for blogging, and sadly, getting outside with Alex. I can promise you this though, Alex will be on skis a few times this winter! Skiing as a child is my single most powerful memory and undoubtedly had profound impacts on decisions I have made in the last 20 years. I thank my parents for bravely putting me on the slopes in Tahoe, CA at the tender age of 3 and I am giddity at the prospect of someday watching my son leave me in the dust as he races down the mountain with the same youthful exuberance I still have! So look for near-future posts and gear reviews covering what you should be mindful of when skiing with a young toddler… I have been picking the brains of many who have a ton of experience, most recently a mom of 3 who’s youngest started at 19 months and is now 12 years old and a nationally recognized snowboarder.


Also for 2014, and something I am definitely new to, is sponsorship. I’ve always liked sharing my opinion on products I use with customer’s and clients and based on the statistics I get back from my blog people like reading reviews just as much as trip reports. So to that end I’ll be adding a bit more product reviews to AwA. More than just generic reviews found online these will be detailed accounts of the advantages and disadvantages of something I would truly use. If it’s something that helps with adventuring with kids I’ll be happy to test it and share my honest opinion with my readers.

Earlier this month I posted a review for Friendly Foot, a really cool grass-roots company I stumbled across and am stoked to be supporting. But even before that, in late Fall, Piggyback Rider, a company that manufactures a very unique and interesting solution to the child carrying dilemma has added me to their list of ambassadors and sent me their Nomis model to demo.

Piggyback Rider

Piggyback Rider

Alex, at 25 months, wasn’t quite ready to use this but when the Spring hiking season arrives I expect he’ll be the perfect size and we’ll log some serious miles on this so stay tuned for that!

Over the next couple months things will be a little quiet here while my guiding season is full bore. Those interested in ice climbing and avalanche courses can follow along over at my personal guiding blog. Expect AwA to ramp up to full speed come April as the winter guiding season closes and a 2 and 1/2 half year old and his Dad get back to red-lining the White Mountain National Forest, back-packing, learning to ride the Strider Bike, swim lessons, and what ever else adventure comes our way!

See you soon!



Read Full Post »

I’ll admit it. I have a competitive streak when it comes to hiking. When I look at an estimated hiking time in a book I quickly think about how much I can “beat” that time. Hiking solo I could often cut the book time in half. Hiking with Alex on my back has adjusted that down to about 2/3 of “book time”. I like to move quickly through the mountains and I don’t feel I am missing the vistas or not smelling the flowers… I feel “efficient”.

Today’s Forecast: 72 degrees and “abundant sunshine”, light winds, low humidity, perfect. Michelle had been wanting to climb Chocorua (elev. 3,500ft) for a while. That’s understandable as we can see it from our neighbor-hood and it is the most photographed mountain in New Hampshire; a recent addition to the backs of NH State Quarters.

Late last night we planned to take the Champney Falls trail to summit, a heavily traveled route from the Kancamagus Highway that rises 2,250ft in 3.8 miles (using a bit of the Piper trail at the top). Everything was in place for a fun family hike.

Trailhead shot

Trailhead shot

Book time for this ascent was 3 hours flat. I figured we could do it in 2 hours, 20 minutes. The first mile of the trail was a gentle ascent and we passed multiple parties.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say I love passing parties with small backpacks (if a backpack at all) with Alex on my back and when I do so a small smile creeps across my mouth. That smirk gets full blown when just before I go out of earshot up the trail I hear someone I passed exclaim “wow!” As any racer knows passing people makes you feel stronger. However this is a part of my ego that needs to get checked when hiking with the whole family.

As we hit the steeper switchbacks an hour into the hike Michelle mentions we need to slow the pace, and I oblige. I can cruise with the 45 pound load on my back on flat and gentle ups, but when it gets steep I welcome reining in the pace. All seems well when we reach out first nice view, an hour and 45 minutes into our hike.

A good spot for a break

A good spot for a break, if one is smart.

Here I make a fairly big mistake. When I mention to Michelle how much further we have she suggests a break, her legs are feeling fatigued and a bit shaky. I justify we are “super close” to the summit and we should push on. Ego. We’re on par to crush book time. Up we go.

20 minutes from the top

20 minutes from the top

It's just over there!

It’s just over there!

A crowded summit

A crowded summit

5 minutes from the top

5 minutes from the top

We scramble up the last 100 feet. There are some third and possible 4th class moves here, and the exposure + crowds of less than sure-footed hikers has got Michelle a bit anxious. I can see it in her face. This is not fun for her. I’m somewhat surprised at the summit marker when I turn to her and she sends me a high-five. She’s not stopping up here on the exposed crowded summit though, and wants to retreat down to the col below before stopping for our first break of the day.

Total ascent time: 2 hours, 15 minutes. While we crushed the guidebook time we would pay for it later. We stopped on a nice flat sandy spot with some excellent blueberry bushes. Alex was ecstatic to learn that “boo-berries” could be plucked and eaten on the spot. It was an excellent break.

Comfy late lunch spot

Comfy late lunch spot

After a substantial break (30 minutes), we loaded back up and started out descent at 2:45. Despite the break, we were feeling the fatigue of the non-stop ascent with zero breaks that I had coaxed us on. Not 20 minutes down the trail Michelle rolled her ankle. Still being weight bearing, we continued albeit more slowly. We had stopped talking. Michelle rolled her ankle again. We slowed down again. Carefully making our way down it took 1.5 hours to get back to the car. It was a LONG ninety minutes. It wasn’t fun. I knew I had pushed us too hard on the climb up and Michelle probably would have not rolled her ankle if our pace had been more “normal”. Had we taken a 10 minute break at that first view point the whole day could have been a success. I wouldn’t hike that fast with clients up Mount Washington because I know what wearing someone out early leads to. You hit “the wall”. You crash. You risk injury. Man is hindsight 20-20.

photo (3)

I won’t bore the reader with the apologies I have made to my wife, but I’ll share a promise I made. Whole family hikes should enjoy trails according to “book time”, not trying to “crush it”. Success is not measured in how fast you climb something, but how well you climb something, and today I did not climb Chocorua well.

Read Full Post »

Taking a clue from the blogger who inspired me to start my own blog about adventuring with my newborn son, I figured I would look back on 2012. Even though the blog was not started until halfway through the year, when Alex was almost 9 months old, it’s gotten about 2000 views.

In 2012, there were 20 new posts, mostly trip reports and a couple short product reviews.

The busiest day of the year was August 22nd with 91 views. The most popular post that day was Rock Climbing Adventure with Alex, Cordy, Jessica, and Kendra (and some older peeps).


Two other posts that ended up becoming pretty popular were Swimming Lessons with WMAC:

In the pool

And a fairly recent “Finding the Perfect Christmas Tree“.

Ready to go

Ready to go

From July-December I carried Alex for about 70 miles on White Mountain Trails, over the course of 19 trips.

18 people have subscribed through either email or twitter, and many more have read it via Facebook.

Looking ahead I see some challenges keeping the blog active this winter. The first is my work teaching avalanche courses over the winter which takes up the bulk of my time. My guiding blog will be quite active throughout the winter.

Tuesdays & Wednesdays will be the days I can try to get out with Alex if weather is permitting. Despite his new snowsuit I’ll only be venturing out in reasonable conditions for someone so young, but will be sure to post about it!

While it has been a few months the loss of our longtime companion Bear it is still fresh in our minds I can’t review 2012 without taking a moment to think of him…

RIP Bear 10/98 - 10/15/2012

RIP Bear 10/98 – 10/15/2012

So Happy New Year to you all! If you follow me through Facebook please subscribe directly to the blog at the link up and right… it makes it easier for me to know how many are actually reading (vrs. seeing it in a news feed). And of course, comments are always welcome!

Read Full Post »

Over the last 15 years I’ve come across this scene unfolding on ski hills, rock climbs, hiking trails, kayak trips, and just about anywhere guys and girls recreate in the mountains. A boyfriend or husband is pushing their significant other to do something they are not quite happy about. “It’s an easy black diamond”, “It’s only 5.10 just use your feet”, “We don’t need to bring any drinking water”. I would see how little she was enjoying herself and how his ego was blind to this, then I would smirk and think about how I was smarter than that.

I grew up in the mountains. Crossing rivers, scrambling up trails, skiing steep icy runs on Cannon,  and sleeping in the woods all come naturally to me. Although my wife works for a mountain top weather station, she grew up in Staten Island. A fact that I need to be reminded of from time to time when planning family excursions. This past Sunday was one of those times.

The Winniweta Falls Trail is only .9 miles long. It is a pleasant gentle uphill hike that I did years ago with Bear and remembered how picturesque the actual falls were, despite being modest in size. I thought this would be a great short hike for Mom, Dad, and Baby to pull off. The weather was perfect, a continuation of the high pressure that had reigned through-out the “Seek The Peak” weekend, and I was pretty giddy as I hoisted Alex onto my back at the Route 16 trailhead.

A grandfather and grandson (I assumed) were just off the road returning from their attempt on the trail. We said hello and the grandfather stated “You know there’s a river up ahead?”

Of course I knew there was a river. I’d hiked this trail before, it’s mentioned in the guidebook, on the map, and it’s the Ellis River. It parallels Route 16 for miles… I thanked him for the heads up.

“I just took a header in it”. He added. He seemed unhurt, so I said thanks again, and we continued. My wife’s question conveyed her quickly growing concern. “Are we going to be OK?”

“Of course”. I knew we had to cross the river as soon as we left the road. But the crossing is shallow, only calf deep at most, and the water is not fast here. However… the rocks below it are quite slick. We get to the crossing only a minute from leaving the car. I do a quick scan up and down river for a potential dry crossing, and as I remembered didn’t see one.

“No problem” I say as I take off my shoes and socks.

“I don’t like this” my wife says, as she looks on with obvious apprehension.

With my shoes and socks in hand I cross the river, with Alex on my back. It’s slick, but as I mentioned only calf deep at most, and within a minute I’m on the other side. I set my shoes and socks down and then set Alex down.

“What are you doing?” my wife asks.

“Coming back to get you.”

“You’re leaving Alex there?” her apprehension is more noticeable, yet I somehow ignore it.

Alex watches on with little concern as I recross the river to mommy. Mommy has not taken her eyes off of Alex.

“I don’t like this David. I don’t like that you’ve left Alex on the other side of the river.”

“He’s fine. He’s only 50 feet away and happy as can be”.

“What am I supposed to do now? Take my boots off?”

“Yes, I’ll help you across then we can continue”.

“I don’t like this David. This is not fun. I HATE this.”

A smarter man would have turned this hike around 10 minutes ago, before even crossing the river. Instead, I started getting annoyed.

“It’s only calf deep”. “You’re over-reacting” (Really not the right thing to say in this situation).

I had become the egotistical albeit well meaning typical male pushing his significant other way outside her comfort zone. We made it 5 feet across the river before the panic in her voice woke me up to how wrong I was to push so hard. I brought her back, then returned to Alex, put my trail shoes on, and waded (almost effortlessly with shoes on) back across the river. We returned to the car and drove home in silence.

As I had time to reflect I thought about how I had failed her on what was meant to be a fun relaxing family stroll. I wasn’t considering her comfort level, just what I thought she would be able to do. It was a humbling experience to go through, and I will look on other guys making this error with a bit more pity and less righteousness in the future.

Later that afternoon I built up the courage to ask if she still wanted to go for a hike. She said she did, so we headed to Falls Pond, and although it crosses the Swift River, it does so on a wide railed sturdy foot bridge. About a half mile from the car we held hands.

So what experiences do you have with this common occurrence? Any advice for us guys forging ahead in spite of our companions?

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: