Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hiking Mount Wachusett

      If you live in central Massachusettes, then I'm pretty sure you've heard of Mount Wachusett. For those of you who don't know Mount Wachusett, let me give you some basic information about the mountain:
  • Location - Princeton, Massachuettes
  • Elevation - 2006 feet
  • Prominence - 1000 feet
  • Time to summit - 1hr to 3hr depending on the trail and the pace
Any other information regarding the mountain can be found on wikipedia.
      There are quite a few different trails located on the mountain. All of which are fairly easy to traverse to the top. The only decision you really have is where you plan on starting. If you plan on starting from the lowest point on the mountain, you can pick up any of the trails on the front side of the mountain (where the ski lifts and such are). The front side of the mountain has many of the most laid back trails on the way to the top.
      If you're looking for a more vigorous hike, going up the backside of the mountain has some much steeper terrain. One of my favorite trails is the Link Trail which has you climbing up some pretty large rocks. Really gets the heart pumping and the calories burning. I've only been up the backside of the mountain a couple of times, much easier to get to the front and just hike from there.
      I'm not sure the exact layout I'm going to stick with yet. I'm still toying around with a few ideas. I'm thinking of creating a general post like this one for each mountain I summit, then creating additional posts detailing each trip accompanied by some photos. The other idea is to keep the post text only, or a few of the best pictures from a specific hike and then linking to a slideshow of all the photos I took of the hike. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to comment or send me a message.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Gear for the beginner hiker.

      Before you get started with hiking, you need to have the appropriate gear. The essentials include hiking boots and water. Those have to be the 2 most important items you bring on any hike. The trick to deciding which equipment to use is based primarily off the type of hike you are planning on doing. Let's use a day hike that you plan on being out for less than 6 hours on.
  • Small pack - You can go as small as a fanny pack or as big as something like a pack used for school books. You don't need to bring anything bigger than that. Technical packs might be able to pack more gear, but you aren't going to need to bring anywhere near that amount of gear for a day hike.
  • Hiking Boots/Shoes - Depending upon the terrain, not necessarily mandatory, but excellent to have none the less. If you're just starting out and don't want to shell out $100 on a pair of hiking boots from a chain store, check out Walmart's shoe section. They'll be just fine for any of your day hikes.
  • Water - Keep with the rule of drinking 64 fl oz's a day, if it's hot out, pack some extra water. Each individual is different in their water consumption, but to be safe, for a day trip, bring about 2 liters of water. 
  • Food - Trail snacks are always welcome. Things like granola bars, dried fruit, nuts, even cereal will be great for a quick snack while on the trail. You want to pack fairly light so don't go overboard with the snacks. I also like to bring a sandwich to eat when I'm halfway through the hike, or at the summit of a mountain.
  • Rain gear - A small poncho will do just fine. It's better to be safe than sorry so bring one regardless of whether or not the forecast calls for rain. You can grab a very light poncho at walmart. If all else fails, a trash bag will do a decent job of keeping you dry.
  • Flashlight - On the same note as the gear. You want to be safe, not sorry. You may not be planning to hike after the sun sets, but if you take a wrong turn and get lost, a flashlight will be invaluable when night falls.
  • Compass and Trail Map - You can find trail maps on the web and learning how to use a compass is never a bad idea. By bringing these, if you ever get lost, you can use them to get you going in the right direction.
  • Fleece Jacket and Long Pants - If you're hiking in New England, you need to expect the worst. On Mount Washington, the tallest mountain in the Northeast, temperatures can drop to below 30 at the summit of the mountain overnight. By bringing some warm gear, you'll be prepared if you get stuck in it.
  • First Aid Kit - A small first aid kit will do just fine. A few aspirins, some bandages, and some moleskin would be just fine for a day hike. You can either make one yourself or buy one from a sporting goods store. By making it yourself, you'll be able to customize it to suit your needs depending upon where you are hiking.
      The list might look long, but that's fairly standard and will easily fit into a small pack. If you plan on going with a fanny pack, I've seen some with 2 water bottle holders and a small pouch to hold things like snacks, a compass, and a map. Maybe a few other things. The smaller packs are best used when you're hiking an area you are extremely familiar with and know the terrain very well. For a first time hike, I wouldn't go with less than the above listed items.
       The best part about this gear is you can find it all fairly cheap. When I first got into it last summer, I went out to walmart, I picked up a pack for $15, some hiking shoes for $30, a compass for $3, I made my own first aid kit, and just packed a sweatshirt and long wind pants. That gear I bought I still use today when I go on hikes I'm very familiar with. I've even used the shoes in the White Mountains and I was fine.
       The most important thing to remember is to be smart about the hike. Don't think just because it's a trail that's in your backyard or something that nothing can't happen. Things can always go wrong, no matter where you're hiking. As long as your safe and responsible, hiking can and will be an exciting experience. You'll get to see things you never thought you would see.

The obligatory welcoming post!

      Welcome to "New England Hiking", a blog about my adventures hiking anything and everything in New England. To start, let me tell you a little about how I got into hiking. In 2010, a friend of mine gave me a call and asked me if I wanted to hike the closest mountain in our area, Mount Wachusett. Not having anything else to do that day, I said sure. I grabbed a bottle of water and my friend and I drove to the mountain.
       I had no idea what to expect, I think I was sort of expecting a nature walk on a nice fairly even trail, maybe a bit of an incline because it's a mountain, but what I got was nothing short of exerting. I couldn't tell you exactly what trail we took up, but let's just say by the time we reached the top, I was exhausted. Climbing rocks and such was not what I was expecting, but after about an hour of hiking, we finally reached the summit.
      Let me tell you, after getting to the top of the small 2100 ft mountain, I was hooked. I gazed off into the horizon and being able to see that far on such a clear day was an awesome sight. I don't know the exact distance my friend I were able to see out, but it was over 50 miles. From the top of Mount Wachusett, we could see mountains up in New Hampshire, such as Mount Monadnock (one of the most popular mountains to hike in New England).
      I have a plethora of reasons for writing this blog. It's a great way for me to document my trips and create a journal so that I can relive the hikes years down the road. It's also a great way to show people some of the amazing things that are out in the world. So please, sit back, read and enjoy all the stories that I have to offer.