May 26, 2012: East Osceola

For my first hike of the season I wanted to do one that was towards the bottom of the list and not that long.  I chose East Osceola since it was definitely one of the shorter ones but blatantly ignored the fact that it is one of the steeper 4,000 footers to climb.  We were staying in NH for the weekend but I decided to get dropped off on the way up so that I could take advantage of a nice day.

I blasted into the trail ready for anything, and after about 10 minutes hit a river crossing that seemed to be a little backed up with other hikers.  I decided to try and cross a little ways up so that I could get out in front of the stragglers.  I hopped a few rocks to get over and won a battle with my equilibrium on the last one to arrive dryly on the far side.  A little further up the trail I came to a tree taking a rest and nodded on my way past.

I sneaked under the tree to continue on and soon came to a bunch of logs whose sole job seemed to be protecting hikers from getting their shoes muddy.  I thought this was very noble of them and gave them some foot prints as a sign of my gratitude.

After walking the planks, I had a close call with losing my sanity as I came to another tree that looked startling similar to the one I had passed before.  Were the trees following me or had 2 trees fallen across the path against all odds?  And more importantly, did they make any noise when they fell since no one was around to hear them?  As I pondered these cosmic mysteries, I rounded a corner and found my path blocked off by my new nemesis….the tree.

After much deliberation, I was able to walk around the tree without incident and continued on a ways when I came to what could only be called a warning.  It was just your typical log in a forest until closer inspection turned up a string of warning X’s carved into the log.

I decided to throw caution to the wind and stepped over the warning log to keep heading onwards.  The hiking was pretty easy at this point but I knew that would soon change because according to my trusty White Mountains Hiking Guide, the trail would soon take a drastic turn to the steep side. I arrived at the fork where smart people turn left for some nice mountain ponds and the maniacs turn right for the summit.  I looked wistfully to the left but then turned right and started to climb……drastically.

After crawling on for a while, I finally broke out of the forest and into some open air and a couple of shocking sites……a nice view and a steep rock slide that I was going to have to climb up.  I took my time enjoying the view and might have stayed there all day if the bugs hadn’t driven me off their territory and forced me to climb the rock slide.

I figured things would be easier after that mad scramble up what was basically a cliff but I was very much mistaken.  Just as I thought things couldn’t get steeper, I was once again proven wrong as the trail once again grew more vertical.  I started to get my old jelly leg feeling where I hike for a minute and rest for a minute when I finally broke into some level ground and recognized the signs of a trail that is approaching the summit.  I stepped off the trail for a second to get a glimpse of my destination before plunging into the home stretch which was a grueling experience before I reached the summit and the rewarding view of some trees.

After a quick break, I started to retrace my steps down.  Going down the mountain was anything but easy but I was making pretty good progress until disaster struck.  I was day dreaming while hiking when I was suddenly jarred back to reality only to realize that I was in the air and that I was also horizontal to the trail.  Not exactly where you want to be while hiking. I’m not entirely sure what happened next but it somehow involved my arm bending in an unnatural way.  I thought for sure it was broken as the arm felt entirely limp but when I lifted it up with my other one, I felt something pop into place and my arm was “sort” of back to normal.  I am no doctor but I decided to give myself a diagnosis of a dislocated shoulder and after a lengthy break lying down on the trail, I continued on down.  Nothing else got dislocated besides my mind on the way down and I eventually stepped off the trail a sorry mess but one mountain closer to my goal.  4 down, 44 to go!!

Epilogue: As of this writing, the author is still recovering but delirious.

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