Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Monday, April 30, 2012

Our Family Hike up Mount Cardigan

Mount Cardigan is one of the most famous and well-traversed mountains in the whole world...and it's right here in little ol' New Hampshire! Last Thursday, Bill surprised everyone by taking the day off from work so we could make the trip up as a family.

 The blue sky particularly blue that morning. Lush, rolling meadows, fields, and farms stretched out before us on each side as we drove north. John Cougar Mellencamp's Greatest Hits blaring playing at appropriate decibels for young ears (okay, so I'm a fan of his old stuff, you know, the "Cougar" days). 
Things were going great.
Until the little high-pitched voice behind us starts wailing and holding onto her tummy.
Then splat.
Thankfully, we were only two minutes from the parking area, so we prodded forward. That short but everlasting little part of the trip wasn't so great. We cleaned up as best as possible with wipes and the gallon of water we keep in the trunk for the dog. She sure was a trooper! There was no stopping her from that moment on. (The road to the mountain is quite curvy, bumpy, and rather might just be best to take your time driving.)

There are two very sizable (and pretty clean, too!) bathrooms available just beyond the parking area. Okay, so I can only speak for the little girl's room, but I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't like that when we hiked here a few years ago.

 I thought for sure we were going to lose that silly dog right over the edge of the mountain!
Fearless climber! He blends right in.
This isn't exactly for the faint of heart, and my heart lurched to my throat several times as our boys got closer and closer to those edges. I feel a little jittery just thinking back on it.

There are also trail maps for the taking. This is a BIG mountain, and things can get a bit tricky as you ascend- it's nice to have a map with marked trails just in case.

Here they are!
FYI, see that ledge beyond Isabelle in the picture? Yeah, that's the one.
Straight down. Not even kidding.

Mt. Cardigan is famed for its child-friendly trails and extreme panoramic views at the summit. It's a fantastic hike! We had substantial rainfall the weekend prior to our trip, so some of the trails were pretty muddy, but nothing we couldn't handle. There are lots of giant steps and such formed from rocks and logs, but the sheer rock face doesn't begin until you're nearing the top. Believe me, I was huffing and puffing by the time I made it to the fire tower. Of course my kids had been waiting around for me at least a half an hour at that point...No, not really, ha. 15 minutes tops.  =)

One of my absolute favorite parts of the day was listening to my boys as they soared up the steep crag. They couldn't contain their excitement or amazement as they looked all around them and took it all in. It doesn't really get much better than that.

 Caleb kept yelling over and over again,
"I'm a man! I'm a man!"
He was very proud of his accomplishment. Of course we were too! I felt so thankful to be able to experience part of God's majestic Creation with our children.
There are several little streams and waterfalls along the hike which are fun to watch and listen to. I'm not sure if these stay throughout the summer, but right after spring, they were in abundance. There are a couple of small bridges to cross, and children always enjoy that. We heard some eagles squawking in the distance, too!

Brrrrrrrrrrr.....poor thing was all pooped out and freezing by this point...but she did it!
What a big girl!

In addition to water and snacks, be sure to bring along some extra layers. The wind is downright fierce up there, and it sends a chill right through you like little else can. We did fine with wearing gym pants over shorts and sweatshirts/fleece jackets tied around our waists. We brought a picnic and enjoyed lunch on some boulders before beginning the steep rocky ascent toward the top. That wasn't the plan, but I'm really glad it worked out that way because it would have been disastrous trying to eat and keep a handle on plastic bags and such at the summit. Plus, our fingers would've been too frozen to hold onto anything anyway!

Mt. Cardigan isn't huge in terms of actual distance (it's only 3,155 feet above sea level), but its granite ledges are sizable, and they give you a run for the money. They don't call us "the Granite State" for nothing, and you start to feel it when you're up there. As always, coming down is harder on the knees and ankles...gravity just seems a little bit stronger when you're scaling down nothing but steep rock. We all survived, and are the better for it. It's a wonderful hike to share with your family!


candace said...

Coming to your site via Kelly's Korner. I live in NH and I climbed MT Cardigan a few years ago and just as we got to the top. There was a thunderstorm. Very frightening!

Travel The East said...

We absolutely loved hiking Mount Cardigan as well!!

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