Mount Moosilauke

Mark, Andy and I hiked Mount Moosilauke this past Sunday. We didn’t expect much from this hike – we had all done it before. The only reason we were doing this mountain at all was because it was close, daylight was limited and a storm was due to roll in at 3 pm. Isn’t it weird how the best hikes are the ones where you have no expectations?

This is one of my favorite signs in all of New England, the last line “…To Avoid Tragic Results.” They are not joking. There is a section on this hike next to a waterfall that is steep, narrow and slippery. Iron bars are there to assist you up but it’s a dangerous stretch. Don’t bring kids.

It was warm for a late December day – mid 40s in Boston and high 20s on the mountain. I felt stupid for bringing so many clothes, a first. I hiked the majority of it in a short sleeve shirt and a shell. The beginning of Moosilauke is steep so both Andy and I sweat through our shirts quickly. Even Mark, being half-reptile, sweat for the first time since the 4th grade.

This warmth was a contrast to the first time we climbed Moosilauke, which was the coldest goddamn hike I’ve ever done. I remember being in the parking lot back then, hearing the wind howling at 1,800 feet and thinking, “Damn, it’s going to be cold at the top.” It was 9 degrees.

We had two other people join us on that climb. It was both their first time doing a hike in the winter. One of the guys had gloves he bought at Wal-Mart and I remember him saying, “I can’t feel my hands.” They haven’t joined us for a hike since. You can see photos of that hike here.

Above the treeline visibility extended forever. In this photo Mount Lafayette and Mount Lincoln are to the left. Beyond them and not visible in the photo is Mount Washington. Given that it was 26 degrees, it felt downright balmy.

At the top we were joined by a family who brought along a team of dogs, making Moosilauke summit a temporary dog park. Right after this photo was taken, they arrived with their two other Saint Bernards. With three Saint Bernards and one little mutt, I’m going to guess they own about 370 pounds of dog.

What is it about mysterious people arriving at the summit of mountains? Before the dog team showed up, an older woman wearing jeans and looking like she was out for a pleasant Sunday stroll approached us on the summit. Neither Andy or I remember her even wearing a backpack. I don’t get it. Mountains are cold and dangerous and jeans are the worst thing in the world in snow.

The descent was quick with us sledding down portions of it. We were all a bit spent at the end. I fell asleep in the back of Andy’s car with Baxter lying all over me. When I got home I slept straight through from 10 pm to 7 am without waking once. There is something tremendously satisfying about that.

See all the high resolution photos from this hike here.


The Improved Verizon Remote Control

Verizon users – do any of you know what the PIP button does? How about the STB? I’m a college graduate but I did not major in remote controls.

These mysterious buttons motivated me to revise the Verizon remote. See below. Results – 48 buttons total – 25 removed = 23 remaining, a 52% reduction in buttons.

Verizon, let’s make this happen! Feel free to give me a call.


Music Everywhere

One time Rock God now a regular fixture at Applebys

I bet Robert Plant never imagined that one day his ‘Immigrant Song’ would be played in an Appleby’s in Nashua, New Hampshire. But that’s what I heard when I ate there recently.

It’s funny to realize how pervasive good music has become in our lives. Restaurants and supermarkets used to exclusively play lame muzak, which was cheap and innocuous. In contrast when I ate at Chipotle a couple nights ago the music was so good I would have bought the soundtrack. I’m not the only one who has noticed, they have a Facebook fan page devoted to Chipotle music.

This is remarkable because music used to be so hard to get. Growing up in southern New Hampshire musical selection was limited. We had a couple of oldies stations, WBCN, WFNX if you had a strong antenna, and MTV. If I wanted to hear the Immigrant Song I would have to drive to Strawberries in the next town over, shell out $10-14 for the CD and hope the rest of the album was good. Either that or find a friend who had it and tape it, a major hassle.

Let’s not get too nostalgic but part of me misses the difficult days. It’s good to have an enormous selection but ubiquity has also reduced the depth of connection a person feels for the artist. In the days of musical scarcity we would say, “Oh wait, I love this song” and listen to it in hushed silence all the way through. You don’t see that any more.

When I paid $10 – $14 for a CD, I was making a real commitment to that artist. In those days when you found a good musician, you became a real fan. I had one friend who knew everything about 1960s era British rock – he introduced me to The Who and Led Zeppelin. Another friend was devoted to thrash and heavy metal – he got me into Black Sabbath, The Misfits and Pantera. We bought albums, t-shirts, books and posters. These musicians became part of our identity.

Now I know a guy who has 30 gigabytes of music on a hard drive. He could listen to every song in this library, one a day, for the rest of his life. Why would he want to?

In an effort to sample all that is available, one misses out on the most important thing – making a choice and building an identity from that choice. In our current era the greatest danger is spending more time shuffling through songs than connecting to the one that speaks to you.