Caps Ridge Trail, 5 miles roundtrip, 2700 feet elevation gain.
The girls and I will stay in a couple of AMC huts and tag a few 4Ks in the coming weeks. Since the girls have hiked nothing but relatively smooth trails for the past couple of months, I thought each should experience a small reminder of what it means to hike in the Whites before tackling the higher peaks. This weekend, it was my turn to have Sage to myself (and Hugh's turn to have Alex). On Saturday night, I asked Sage if she'd like to hike to Lonesome Lake the following morning. When she greeted my suggestion with a frown, I mistakenly thought that she didn't want to hike at all. I quickly offered to play mini-golf with her instead, but she responded with, "What's that mountain with all the rock scrambles? I want to do that one."
"Jefferson? You want to do Jefferson?"
"Honey, that's a 4K."
"I don't care."
"Are you sure? That's harder than anything you've ever done. It's steep."
"I don't care. I can do it."
"Sage, are you sure?"
"YES!" She was getting pissed off with me. I think, in retrospect, she thought I was underestimating her abilities. I wasn't. During our highpoint trip, it became quite clear to me that Sage is every bit as strong as Alex was at her age. However, Sage has never before expressed an interest in hiking the larger peaks, with the exception of a very specific few that we hope to summit later this month. This was the first time she had expressed a wish to tackle Jefferson. I'm assuming it's because she loves to rock scramble, and she has heard Alex and I talking about how much we like the Caps.
Okay, I thought, why not. We can always turn around. At the very least, we can make it to that first rock with the views and have a nice snack.
We went to bed early, woke with the sun, and hit the trail.
Bog bridges! Sage enjoyed these immensely. She especially liked how they sunk a bit into the water with her (negligible) weight.
The first mile went by faster than I expected. We arrived at the "look-out rock" an hour after leaving the car.
Here's what's in front of us -- the Caps and Jefferson itself.
Sage, with Mt. Washington in the background.
A few southern Presidentials...
Some water and food, and we headed up into the alpine zone.
Sage saw some "green, fuzzy hay" on a tree. She took this picture...
...then went to examine it further.
About half a mile later, we left the trees and began ascending rock. Here's Sage approaching the first Cap...
...and climbing the second Cap...
...still on that second Cap...
Sage loved the views! Here, she looks down and marvels at how far we've come (that spot of rock in the middle of the picture is the "lookout rock," the rocky outcropping to the right is the first Cap).
From here, I could see the Castles.
Looking up to the third Cap and the summit cone...
We climbed the third Cap, then took a snack break. After about ten minutes, Sage was ready to continue onward.
Mt. Washington to our right...
A bunch of rocks ahead of us...
and the world below us!
We took many breaks while ascending the cone. Sage was getting tired, but she trooped onward. We took one last break about a tenth of a mile from the summit...and then, we were there!
Sage was extremely proud of herself, but she was fairly worn out. We went down to the "Christmas tree cairn," ducked out of the wind, and took a long rest.
A nice fellow at the summit lent Sage his folding chair. Sage gratefully accepted it and made herself comfortable.
After a half hour of eating, we returned the chair and made our way downward. We stopped to rest whenever Sage requested, which was understandably often.
At the bottom of the Caps, Sage asked to take a couple of photos. These are the ones she took:
The final mile was hard on us both, but we sang some silly songs and kept telling ourselves that every step we took brought us that much closer to the car. Finally, four hours after leaving the summit, we found ourselves back at the trailhead.
I know I'm a teeny bit biased, but I'll write it anyway -- Sage rocks.