Fortitudine Vincimus . . . Washington #200 / NH4K #2222 / Grid #2, AKA "Dropping Deuces"

Date of Hike: 9/10/22

Cog Railway & Gulfside Trail: 3.0 miles / Crawford Path & Webster Cliff Trail: 8.7 Miles / 302: 0.1 miles / Avalon Trail: 1.3 miles / A-Z Trail: 3.7 miles / Zealand Trail: 0.2 miles / Twinway & Zealand Spur: 7.4 miles / Frost Trail: 1.0 miles / Garfield Ridge Trail: 6.6 miles / Franconia Ridge Trail: 5.0 miles / Osseo Trail: 4.1 miles / Lincoln Woods Trail: 1.4 miles 
Total Miles: 42.5 (14,250' Elevation Gained)

Trip Report:
- Obviously it has been awhile since my last post almost a year ago! Since then Sarge and I spent the winter on "Bowl Pawtrol," where we headed to the bottom of Tuckerman Ravine two to three times a week December through April to watch the skiers and ice climbers do their thing. It was a tame year for snow levels as Lion Head winter route didn't open until mid January and then it closed the first week of May, making for easy springtime ascents up the rockpile via the summer route. 
- May was a month long of phenomenal weather, so that is when the idea of "Dropping Deuces" came into play. Summiting Washington 200 times, summiting 2222 NH 4Ks, and finishing Grid #2 in September, reaching all three milestones on the same day in one hike. 
- Starting in May I needed to hike Washington forty times, had forty-eight Grid peaks left (zero in May, fifteen in June, ten in July, twelve in August, and eleven in September), and sixty random 4Ks, for 148 total 4Ks.
- During that month I put a big dent in W200's, hiking up the rockpile thirteen time, mostly with Todd during the week, and Sarge joined in a few times too. On weekends we expanded our alpine zone roam and added the northern Presi peaks doing fun/challenging routes with Nate tagging along.
- Once June came around I had to split time between Grid and Washington hikes. Luckily the great weather continued and I was able to knock off the remaining fifteen Grid peaks with ease, while getting up Washington six more times, and ending the month in style running a sub seven hour Pemi Loop. 
- July brought on a little fatigued as hammering Washington multiple times and knocking off the Grid peaks during the summer's heat was physically draining. My knees started to feel sore from rock hopping but I made sure to throttle down at times to avoid any injuries. I also kept strength training and stretching during the week which I credit with helping my body to hold up. On the month I was able to knock off fourteen more Washington summits, including two doubles (up Tucks, down Cog Path, up Ammo & Crawford Path, back down Tucks). 
- August was pretty tame, I hiked Washington only six times (one double), which put me at 199 by the 20th. The Grid peaks went smoothly and was a nice relief on the legs as they were all over easier terrain, nothing above treeline. 
- During the middle of the month I even got to organize MMD 50K (More & More Difficult), my first year hosting the event after taking over for Bob. This year's run was in Evan's Notch and we were blessed with great weather. Runners started with a run up and down the Baldfaces, over Meader Ridge, down to Basin Pond, into Maine up Speckled Mountain, across the top of the notch to the Royces, and back into New Hampshire ending at Basin Pond for a cookout. Twenty runners started and all ended up finishing, meaning next year I will have to make it a little more difficult! Runners were all spread out finishing anywhere between 8 hours and 30 minutes to 16 hours and 30 minutes.
- As September began, I knocked out eight Grid peaks in the first three days, managing to mix in running Mount Osceola for my never ending RUN NH48 project, now on year eight, thirty-nine peaks in! 
- This left me with three Grid peaks (Galehead, Liberty, and Flume), one Washington, and six random 4Ks. Ten peaks and one hike to go!
- Starting in May I planned to end Grid #2 on Flume as long as I could get to 199 W's and at most nine random 4Ks left. I had the route already locked in, Washington to Flume, the equivalent to a Hut 2 Hut "light." 
- Joining me for the whole route was Todd and Nate. Todd and I spotted my Jeep at Lincoln Woods on Friday afternoon, and Todd's wife, Nicole, gave us three a ride to the Marshfield Station's Cog hiker lot Saturday for a dawn start. Joining us for the Presidential portion of the run was Jason, Leah, Kristina, Rem, and PHOEBE! 
- The weather early in the morning as we headed up the Cog was pretty stellar, we knew it was going to be hot and humid during the day but for now it was perfect out. 
- The Cog is the most direct way up to the rockpile, 3.0 miles, we covered this in under an hour and a half for Washington #200! To celebrate I ate a Keebler E.L. Fudge Double Stuff Cookie. I had brought ten with me, wanting to eat one at each of the ten peaks I would summit along the way. I think I was able to eat about three before the thought of having another one became not so pleasant. They also became a mutated mess throughout the day as the heat and being jostled around in my pack while run did a number on those poor bastards. 
- As we descended the southern Presidential Range, bypassing Monroe and Eisenhower on our way to Pierce, a theme for the descents became clear on the day, slippery when wet. The fog from the night before and the high humidity made the rocks greasy, all of us would take tumble throughout the day. My fall would come along a familiar foe, more on that later.
- From Mount Pierce we took in the views one last time before heading down Crawford Path reaching Route 302 around 10AM, 3 hours and 45 minutes after starting. We said our goodbyes to the others and Todd, Nate, and I started the slog up to the col between Mount Field and Mount Tom along the A-Z Trail before descending to Zealand Valley and over to Zealand Falls Hut.
- Zealand Falls Hut, 11:40AM, we take a well deserved break, guzzling water and refilling our bladders while refueling. The hut had iced tea and corn bread for sale, I happily scarf down a big piece of bread and guzzle down iced tea.
- Next up was the hike past Zeacliff on the way to Zealand, 12:50PM. We take a short break at the summit before zooming off  for the down and up to North Guyot, where we spy our finishing peak, Flume, across the Pemigewasset Wilderness as we make our way across the Twinway to South Twin, 1:55PM.
- The steep and greasy descent down to Galhead Hut was not too fun but we made it none the worse for the wear. We bypassed the hut doing the out and back to Galehead, 2:26PM, before our last big break of the day. The Hut had delicious cream cheese brownies and lemonade, we all indulged!
- Leaving Galehead Hut around 2:50 it was bend but don't break time, 6.6 miles of PUDs and two steep ascents as we head to Mount Garfield and Mount Lafayette.
- I was tired but hydrating and fueling well so I was doing fine through the PUDs, but I did hit a small wall as we ascended the "Garfield Waterfall" section, my legs just weren't turning over as I would have liked but I pushed on knowing a break was coming at Garfield Spring before the final steep burst to the summit.
- Mount Garfield, 4PM, beautiful views from the summit of where we just came from, South Twin and Galehead, and where we were heading, Franconia Ridge.
- Now it was time for the steep descent and more PUDs before the steep ascent to North Lafayette. About halfway through I stepped on a rock that moved out from under me, one that I hadn't memorized, and I went for a nasty tumble, scuffing my arm and drawing some blood and blowing out the top lid on my bladder soaking my back. Luckily the bladder itself didn't pop and Nate was able to close it back up before I lost anymore precious water.
- Fitting, the only time I wipe out all day was along the Garfield Ridge, the trail that made me cry as a child and that I have had a love/hate relationship with for over thirty years. I gathered myself together, got up, brushed myself off and continued on.
- Treeline finally came, I was hoping for a second wind here so I could zoom up ahead and take some cool pics of the guys as they crested over North Lafayette but I had no extra juice in the legs. I stayed behind keeping pace making sure to hydrate and fuel until our next break.
- 5:23PM Mount Lafayette. Not going to lie I was pretty drained at this point. We took a short break before heading off across the Franconia Ridge, over Mount Lincoln, 5:46PM, on our way to Little Haystack. I felt better as we traversed this section, how can you not, beautiful views in all directions and easy grades. However, as soon as we dropped below treeline again I felt like crap for about five minutes. After a few deep breaths and getting my bearings straight I felt fine again from here on out.
- Mount Liberty, 6:40PM and Mount Flume 7:05PM, What a beautiful sunset to the west over the Kinsman Range was taken in from each peak. Flume, NH 4K #2222 and Grid #2 finish, picture perfect scene taken in from the final peak.
- There was no time for celebrating though, we still had 5.5 miles to go as darkness fell upon us. Ice cold Gatorade and cheesy/salty Sun Chips waited for us at the Jeep so it was time to dig deep. We covered the final 5.5 miles in one hour and ten minutes reaching Lincoln Woods at 8:22PM.
- Now it was time to relax while cleaning off forty two miles of mud that was caked to our legs, devour the Chips, chug ice cold Lime Cucumber Gatorade (don't knock it until you try it), protean shakes, and a thirty hour old Iced coffee!
- What a day it was with the fellas out along a grueling route. I can't thank them enough for making this finale possible and enjoyable. We all had a great summer on on the rockpile and it made those knee hammering days easier having company for many of my forty summits. The summer was hot at times but very dry making this goal much easier to complete. As I write this four days later, Mount Washington just had its first snowflakes last night as summer is quickly coming to an end. Perfect timing by us!
- As for Grid 1 vs. Grid 2, this one was different in a few ways. First, having joined in as others picked away at their Grids over the past six years (Todd, Nate, and at times Ashley, Kyle, Whitney), it made my second Grid pretty damn easy to complete. I had several months already done, four, when I filled out my spreadsheet on my road trip last fall. Only March and April had quite a few left (18 and 24).
- While Grid #1 had more unique routes, bushwhacks, and abandoned trails mixed in, Grid #2 was more demanding with the hammering of Mount Washington every couple of days, including a few doubles and one time hiking it five days in a row. I was proud that my body held up well throughout the whole summer, albeit very tired from time to time, 148 NH4K in 130 days will do that to you!
- Grid #1: Washington, August 31st, 1988 - Isolation, July 21st, 2016. 27 years 10 months 20 days 
- Grid #2: Washington, August 8th, 1993 - Flume, September 10th, 2022. 29 years 1 months 2 days
- As always, I've been blessed to have made more memories than I can remember in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, starting with our first hike up to Washington with my parents and brother, Joe-Ben, as we spent the night at Lakes of the Clouds Hut the night before summiting for the first time. Since then I've covered thousands of miles with some great friends, primarily over the past fourteen years. 
- What a ride it has been, now time for some bushwhacking and lounging around above treeline before the snow starts to fly. :) 

Elevation over distance profile

Dawn on Base Station Road and getting ready at the hikers lot at Marshfield Station

The gang heads up the swath passing by Jacob's Ladder

Early morning undercast to the north

Making our way past the Westside Trail junction

Mount Clay, Jefferson, and Adams

Summit in sight

Fog clearing off fast from the rockpile

Todd and I on the summit of Washington

Leah, Kristina, and Jason

Northern Presidential Range (Jefferson, Adams, Madison)

Start of Crawford Path. I am pointing out the last peak we'll be on later in the day, Flume

Todd and Nate lead the way down Crawford Path with Mount Monroe in view

Passing by Lakes of the Clouds Hut

Looking back at Mount Monroe and Washington as we pass by Mount Franklin

Leah and Kristina

The gang heads towards Mount Eisenhower

Making our way to Mount Pierce

Jason snaps a pic of us on Mount Pierce

Leaving Pierce

Presidential Range as seen from Mount Pierce

A-Z Trail

Zealand Pond

On the Twinway passing by North Guyot
Leaving South Twin with the six remaining peaks in the distance, Galehead (lump just above Todd and Nate), Garfield, Lafayette, Lincoln, Liberty, and Flume


Owl's Head and the Pemigewasset Wilderness with Liberty and Flume off in the distance

Classic Franconia Ridge shot

Todd and Nate heading to Little Haystack

Mount Lincoln as seen from Little Haystack

Reaching the summit of Mount Liberty

Sun setting over the Kinsmans

Summit of Flume

Sunset from Mount Flume

Todd gets a selfie of us on Flume. Tired but still going and ready to finish strong.

Crossing the suspension bridge at Lincoln Woods and trying to clean forty miles of mud off of us!


  1. Great to see you posting again. I've missed reading your trip reports!