The Osceolas: My First Solo Hike and Trail Run for #19 and #20
This morning I hiked Mt. Osceola and Osceola, East Peak and it was probably the best day hike I've done so far! I was a bit nervous at first, it being my first solo hike, but it turned out to be a really great experience. It was also my first time trail running (well jogging if we're being honest), and it was a lot more fun than I expected!
Before I talk about my hike today I want to talk about what Lucy has been up to lately. Yesterday she did her first hike since we did Cannon Mountain about a month ago. We hiked Tecumseh again and she did pretty well. She's was having trouble with her nails bleeding and her endurance isn't great, but everything went well yesterday. I'm hoping with with a little more practice we'll work up to some more challenging hikes. Today she was really tired and a little sore, so I decided to leave her with my parents rather than try to have her hike two days in a row. She pretty much slept all day so I think it was a good call. It's looking like she won't be able to join me for a lot of the 4,000 footers, but we're going to do some shorter hikes to try to get her in shape for longer ones.
My original plan for today was to hike the Hancocks, but I got a late start and decided to do the Osceolas instead. I wanted to do a hike that Lucy wouldn't be able to do since she was at my parent's house, and from what I had heard about the chimney it seemed to be too challenging for her. I arrived at the Mt. Osceola trailhead at 8:55 and was not surprised at the long line of parked cars along the road. I usually try to avoid crowds as much as possible, but I was okay with it being busy because I was a little nervous about hiking alone. I figured if something happened at least there would be lots of people around.
I hit the trail at exactly 9:00, and I wanted to keep a pretty good pace for this hike because the past few weekends have had terrible traffic going back to Boston. The beginning of the Mt. Osceola trail was rocky and wet, but otherwise not too bad. My last hike was the Pemi Loop where water was a big concern the whole time, so it was comforting to have running streams every so often on the trail. It was a pretty easy hike, but a lot of the rocks were slippery so I was glad to have my trekking poles with me. The weather was a beautiful 75 degrees and sunny, perfect hiking weather!
I passed about 30 people and a few dogs on my way up and made it to the summit of Mt. Osceola at 10:25. There were around 15 people at the summit, so I only stayed long enough to down a package of Clif Shot Blocks and snap a picture. The view was gorgeous looking over many of the 4,000 footers. I even saw Bondcliff and parts of the Pemi Loop where I had been a few weeks before! The one mile between Osceola and the east peak was a little bit more challenging than the initial climb. Right after the first summit the trail went down pretty abruptly for a little bit then flattened out. I was feeling energetic because of the caffeine in the shot blocks, so I decided to jog the flats and take my time on the downhill sections. Finally, I came to the famed chimney.
The chimney is a vertical section of rock that is between Osceola and the east peak. Because of all the rain last night, the chimney was pretty wet, so I decided to use the bypass on the descent. It wasn't as steep as the chimney itself but still tricky to maneuver. I was excited to tag the east peak and climb back up. The ascent to Osceola East was pretty tame after this, so I jogged most of it and stopped there for a quick bite to eat. This time it was a chocolate mint Clif bar with more caffeine for an extra boost. Those of you who know me well know that caffeine usually makes me a little bit crazy so I try to avoid it as much as possible. It turns out that I really like the extra energy when I'm hiking.
After a ten minute break at my second summit of the day, I started the trek back to the car at 11:00. On my way, I met a gentleman who has done all 48 4,000 footers 14 times! How cool is that! He's hiked Mt. Washington 51 times. I was super impressed with his knowledge about the area, and he gave me some great tips for future hikes. After a long chat with him, I jogged back to the chimney and tucked away my trekking poles. I zipped up it pretty quickly because there were lots of hand and footholds. It was pretty easy and so much fun! Just a little slippery.
At 11:50 I reached the summit of Osceola for the second time and, I only stayed for a minute or two before continuing on. Then I ran pretty much the whole descent back to the car. To be completely honest, the biggest reason I decided to run was because my boots were hurting my feet really badly and running took my mind off of the pain. It required a lot of focus to find my footing every step. I would have never guessed that trail running would be something that I enjoyed because I'm literally the most clumsy person I know, but it actually went really well. I didn't fall once! The last half mile of the trail was pretty rocky so I had to slow down a bit for that, but I ended up making it back to the trailhead at 1:07 for a total time of 4 hours and 7 minutes. I felt really accomplished because the book time is 5:20, and I think I beat a lot of the traffic going back to the city. I even got pizza from my favorite place in Concord as a post-hike reward!
Overall this was a really great day for me! I loved being able to set my own pace without worrying about slowing anyone else down. Don't get me wrong I love hiking with other people, but it was really refreshing to do my own thing for a change. This trail was way more busy than I typically like when I'm hiking, but it gave me a little extra piece of mind for my first solo outing. I'm not going to lie it got a little too quiet after the first hour so I put on some music, but other than that it was awesome! I think there will definitely be more solo hiking and trail running in my future!
Mt. Osceola [4,315 ft] and Mt. Osceola East Peak [4,156 ft] via. Mt. Osceola Trail [8.4 mi, 4:07]
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