September 29, 2014

Stinson Mountain

The weather this weekend was seasonably warm with temperatures forecast to be in the 80's and high pressure dominating the region. We couldn't pass up this chance to get in another "52 With A View" hike so on Friday I pulled up the list and took a look at our options. Keeping Toby in mind, we wanted a hike that was a reasonably close drive and to keep the round trip hiking route under 4 miles. We settled on Stinson Mountain, a moderate peak on the southern edge of the White Mountains with a 1.8 mile trail to the summit. With the decision made, on Friday evening we quickly organized our gear, snacks, and all of the other things you need to leave the house with a toddler.

We were up early on Saturday morning and with most of our stuff ready to go, it was just a matter of the three of us eating breakfast, getting dressed, and heading out. "We're oddly on schedule." Katy said at one point as we made it out the door and on the road by 7:30AM. It was a nice ride up as we noticed that many of the trees were already turning for foliage season up in NH. We made one quick pitstop on the way to use the restroom and feed Toby a quick snack and then continued on to the trailhead in Rumney, NH. It was uncharted territory for us, as this trail is 15 miles off the main interstate and not near any other trails that we've hiked before in our NH 4000 footer quest. Early fall, a warm clear New England day, and exploring the backroads and hiking trails of Rumney, NH - sounds like an episode of Chronicle!

We arrived at the small parking lot at the trailhead which was already filled to capacity with 4 cars. We parked on the side of the road and got ourselves organized before heading off, on the trail at exactly 10:00AM. As usual, Toby was very enthusiastic on this early portion of the hike and was talking the whole way up. Stinson Mountain Trail is well maintained and easy to navigate but it was definitely a climb. With 1400 feet of elevation gain over 1.8 miles, it's a little more then just a walk in the woods. We made it to the top without much issue, though, in about an hour's time, and were treated to some excellent views of the valley. We took Toby out of his pack and all had a PB & J snack while Toby tirelessly climbed on every single cement remnant of the old firetower that clearly used to be at the top of this peak but is now gone.

We were doing our usual photo-ops when Katy noticed a small plane flying in the distance and she suggested that Toby and I pose for a picture with the plane in the background before we head down. Sure why not? We got Toby in his pack and in position on a rock ledge, Katy lined up the shot, and then she tried to get a good angle. "Oh the plane is getting closer," she says. "It's coming this way." I continued to wait... "It's coming right towards us." I was still waiting at this point wondering how long I needed to stand there. "Umm, Owen I think you should get down from there." As she was saying all of these things I was continuing to wait for her to take our picture with my back to the plane until I finally turned around when she said this. To my surprise, the plane was only a few hundred yards away coming directly at us. At that moment there was no other explanation in my mind why the plane would be in that position and on that course unless it was coming in for a crash landing. We both started running off of the rock ledge and I was about 3 to 4 seconds away from diving for cover into the dirt behind the nearest rock or tree, baby on my back and all.

But then, the plane pulled up at the last second and flew straight up and over us! Katy's first reaction was to laugh while simultaneously flipping the pilot off with both hands as he looped back around and made multiple fly by's while waving at us. I was just in disbelief with adrenaline pumping and glad we were all still in one piece. It was definitely a very bizarre experience and something we will laugh about for a while. Before long, the plane had flown off and we were making our way down the trail we came up. By comparison's sake, it was an uneventful hike down and journey home, but an overall great outing for our 2nd peak on the NH 52 With A View!


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