Snow and Hale

This past Saturday started out pretty early as Jesse and I drove out to the REI in Reading to stand in line for an hour before the store opened. We weren’t the only ones, apparently people had camped out that night. The line was already wrapping around the parking lot when we got there. I guess I should mention the circumstances as to why anyone would stand outside of an outdoor store (in the cold), on a Saturday morning. It was the spring garage sale, where REI sells used and returned equipment for half off the retail price. 10 o’clock hit, and people started running for the gear they wanted. It’s a sad sight to be honest. People were hoarding, pushing, and just acting American all around. Jesse got a nice wool shirt and I got some new hiking pants. Perfect for the brisk day ahead.

[simage=17,288,n,left,]The two of us have been itching to get some hiking in once the ski resorts started to dwindle in fresh snow several weeks ago. We headed North right from REI for a day hike in the Whites. Mt. Hale was our last minute destination. Why not start the season off with a bang and check another 4,000 footer off the list?

When we got there, the logging road to the trail head was closed for the winter months (and for a few more weeks). This meant that we had to park at the main road and hike in with an extra 2.5 miles to tack on to each end of the hike. No matter. It was brisk but sunny and flat. It was 1pm but we had plenty of daylight to play with. I donned my new pants (which were missing a button) and Jesse grabbed his camera with a new wide angle lens he had yet to play with. [See the pictures in the gallery]

[simage=23,288,n,right,]I quickly realized that my new pants weren’t working out. They were cutting off circulation to my legs. Yeah… that tight. Good thing I brought shorts with me just in case. As we ascended, it quickly became apparent that we were not prepared for the amount of snow that we were going to encounter. The snow got deeper and deeper. It was packed down pretty well, but one of us would let out the occasional yelp as our footholds would give way and we would step 1, then 2, then 3, and ultimately 4 feet down through loose snow. We were reluctant to continue once we saw that the foot prints in the snow that we had been following had donned snow shoes. We gave it a shot and second guessed ourselves until we reached the peak. There was little to no payoff waiting for us at the summit. No clearing and no view. Oh well. We headed back down with a few hours of sunlight to spare.

We got back to the car to find that Jesse had left the lights on. The battery was dead. Seeing as how we were in the middle of nowhere and in the off season, getting help was a bit difficult. We called AAA, but who knew when and if they would ever find us. We took to waving down passing cars. It turned into an interesting social experiment. It’s not that I was amazed at the amount of people who didn’t stop. (Those who did, didn’t have jumper cables.) It was the amount of people who didn’t stop and just slowed down to stare. At least pretend you don’t see us. There’s no selfish embarrassment courtesy these days. Needless to say, someone walked into the parking lot from a hike and helped us out. The day was topped off with an amazing meal at my favorite diner: The Tilt’n Diner.