View Full Version : Kilkenny six pack, a shot of Cannonball, and a Costa Rican chaser...

06-25-2004, 01:37 PM
Below is a lenghty trip report. Enter at your own risk...

Kilkenny, Cannonball, Costa Rica – June 8-22, 2004

Well, I just returned from about 3 weeks away from my computer. It is very daunting to log on to VFTT and see 10 pages of new threads since my last visit!!! I made it through about 6 pages before giving up for now...

I’m very pleased to hear that the Up the Butt expedition was successful for some and I congratulate the others on making tough decisions.

I was scheduled to fly to Costa Rica on 6/10 to meet my better half for ten days of vacation and full-blown tourism. First on my priority list was to hike Chirripo, Costa Rica’s highest point at 12,533 ft. Having finished what work I wanted to get done before leaving, I decided I should pre-game by doing some hiking in the Whites. I haven’t done much peakbagging lately, so I figured this would be a good time. I left home in ME three days early and headed to Jefferson, NH.

For quite some time, I’ve wanted to traverse the Kilkenny Ridge. Sure, I’ve done Cabot and Waumbek, but it seemed like a ridge walk not to miss…and besides, I missed the Horn, the Bulge, and the two Weeks the first time around. So, I left my car at the Waumbek trailhead and asked the guy in the Toyota for a ride. He looked at the pipe in his hands, looked back at me and said, “I’m not leaving yet.” I figured that was a good decision, so I took notice of his license plate (I was a bit nervous to leave my car, actually Joanna's car, in the lot and announcing that I wouldn’t be back for at least another day) and walked down to Rt. 2 and stuck my thumb out. In three rides and about 1.5 hours I made it to South Pond Rd. and then walked to the start of the Kilkenny Ridge Trail. Starting out around 3:30pm on Monday, I was hoping to make it to Unknown Pond for the first night. Quickly I discovered that my out-of-shape legs might not make it the 6.8 miles before too late that evening, so I figured I’d stay at Rogers Ledge. But as things often go, I got a second wind once I took in some views and remembered how much I love being on the trail. I made it to Unknown Pond around 7pm after lots of picture and water breaks. It wasn’t my finest walk, but I got there in time to cook dinner and see the sunset cast over Unknown Pond. Quite a site, really!

The next morning, I left camp around 7am and got it into my head that I would get back to the car by the end of the day. I wasn’t really in any hurry b/c I had a couple of days to kill, but I was hoping to bag a bit elsewhere before leaving for Costa Rica. So, despite not having done any long hikes (20+ miles) in a while I kept at it until about 6pm when I reached the car with very sore legs, one blister, and dehydration cramps. I was borderline limping, but I had made it and that was good enough for me. The fact that my pace was much slower than my norm didn’t seem to bother me all that much. During the day, I saw one guy heading up Cabot via Mt. Cabot Trail (he had come up from the controversial trailhead and said there were no problems) and when I was descending Starr King, I saw two women heading up to do some birding and camp out for the night. Those are the only people I saw one and half days. 6 peaks, 4 of which I could add to my spreadsheet, in one day! Of course it’s not the hardest ridge walk in NH , but it was a splendid trip!

I was feeling pretty debilitated so I chose the “comforts” of Hiker’s Paradise over camping elsewhere. I was so dehydrated from the day that when I tried to rehydrate with a couple of gallons of water, all that happened was a night with little sleep and 7 trips to the bathroom. Is it normal for the body to reject water when it is severely dehydrated? I left Gorham at 7am on Wednesday morning and headed to Franconia with thoughts of hiking the Cannonballs. About half way there, I decided I was too sore and tired to hike, so I drove to Lafayette Place and hung out there trying to decide what to do. After an hour of weighing the options, I filled the water bladder, switched the flip flops for sneakers, and headed up to Lonesome Lake. About 2/3 of the way up the Lonesome Lake Trail (after the lake) things began to look familiar. When I reached the junction and col between Cannonball and Cannon, I had déjà vu. Sure enough, I realized that I had been there before. In fact, Cannonball was the very first mountain I climbed in NH. On my DOC freshmen trip, we had mistakenly gained the ridge via Lonesome Lake Trail instead of via the AT/Fishin’ Jimmy. We ended up on Moosilauke a couple of days later, but Cannonball proved to be my very first NHHH peak! So, in my current sorry state, I had re-hiked Cannonball. At first I was disappointed since I was so beat, but then I reminded myself that I don’t only hike for lists, although that it often the impetus for choosing a certain peak.

So, with 7 peaks, numbers 77-83 done, I decided to call it quits for this trip. I went to MRL for some familiar food and lodging. Thursday, I headed to Boston in preparation for my flight on Friday to Costa Rica…

Having never been to Latin America and not speaking Spanish beyond “cerveza” I was a bit apprehensive to make the trip to San Jose alone. I was to meet my better half, Joanna at a hotel in the city. To make a long story short, there was a mixup in which hotel to meet at, making my first 12 hours in Costa Rica quite unpleasant…

Heading to Chirripo in the south central part of the country was extraordinary… The Costa Ricans drive coach buses on roads many would not drive jeeps on here in the states. Washed-out mountain roads with sheer drops made for an exciting 4.5 hour trip to San Gerardo de Rivas at the base of Chirripo. Unfortunately, Joanna got quite sick (she had been in the country for over two weeks before my arrival and had had no problems; maybe it’s me?). We bailed on our plans to bag the highpoint, leaving me quite disappointed, but understanding nevertheless. I did manage a 3 hour hike to high enough shoulder where I could see just outside of the valley we were in. The terrain is relentlessly steep and rugged in those valleys, yet the people and cows there seem to do just fine. We contemplated the likely differences in the lengths of the cows’ uphill and downhill legs, citing likely frequent down-mountain tumbles as reasons to genetically improve the breeds. Alas, the prolific sidehill goofers seem to rule in that mountainous terrain!

So, we headed to destination 2, Puerto Viejo on the Carribbean coast. Black and white sand beaches, friendly locals, warm water, and zooming along the beach on motos made this locale relaxing and romantic! Three days later, we headed to Monteverde for our final destination of the trip. This was my favorite of the places due to its cooler climate, tourist attractions galore and forests, my main interest in Costa Rica. 100 foot high canopy zip lines, canopy suspension bridges, better food, high-mountain views, and 2 perfect rainbows, made this spot the highlight of the trip!

On our final night and final bus ride, we headed back to San Jose. About 10 minutes from our stop, we realized that one of our bags was nabbed from under our noses! A pack-lid carry-on was snatched along with its contents of camera, prescription glasses, a few hundred dollars in traveler’s checks and cash, blah blah blah… Yes, we had been very careful throughout the trip, but they got the better of us in the end. With a 2pm flight the next day and no passport in hand, Joanna became quite nervous at the prospects of spending a few more days in
San Jose. A three hour trip to the US Embassy the next morning proved successful and they made her a new passport on the spot! Luck was with us and we made our flight without further problems. Insurance will take care of much of the stolen property and we’ll get back the money from the traveler’s checks. My dwindling bank account would have been insufficient if we had had to stay for a couple of days, so catching our flight was that much more important. Note to self: If your Sugar Mama gets robbed, get out of the country ASAP!

This trip ended up not really being about hiking, but it sure was a great time, despite both of us getting pretty sick and getting robbed on our last night. Lessons learned? Do it all the same the next time around… It was a trip to never forget!

If you made it through this whole trip report, thanks for your patience!

Of course it’s always good to be home!

More pictures will be up later today probably. http://community.webshots.com/user/spencermeyer