Friday, September 11, 2015

As alpine as it gets: from Boston to the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Time for a new blog entry. :) In May 2015, I moved to Boston for a while. I got an offer to work at Boston University on things I enjoy working on, so there was no point in not accepting this offer. I left Linz with mixed feelings, prepared to never return back to my former University and workplace and was keen on new challenges.

So far, I really love it! I work in the Active Perception Lab of Michele Rucci, and we're building the world's most precise magnetic eye tracker using the search coil technique.

It's a lot of manual work, we're using some 5 or 6 km of cables and the whole thing weighs something like 250 kg or so.

Look at my serious working outfit!

However, we spend many hours in the lab, many nights and weekends, too. But sometimes we manage to go out there, and experience Boston and the area around the city. That could be a short trip to the coast down south or up north, or a longer bike ride to the Blue Hills. We learned to sea-kayak and are taking classes on a regular basis to improve strokes, safety, rescues and technique. We dive into the city - and we really enjoy Boston - and experience all the good things Boston has to offer. Like huge Whole Foods Markets around nearly every corner. Or craft beer and cider.

That's Cape Cod.

But growing up in the mountains, this is not really satisfying long term. So the next level would be to go hiking or backpacking in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

The good thing on Vermont is, that is has also plenty of local farms where you can buy local bee-fair honey, maple sirup and fresh roast coffee directly from the people who make it.

But still the Green Mountains are no real mountains. They are green hills, and some of them might have a stony top so that you can at least see something and don't end up in the woods when you're on the summit.

This is the view from Baker Peak, overlooking Vermont's Green Mountains.

The most mountains you can get, are actually up towards New Hampshire and Maine. And so, two trips brought us to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
One weekend, we went there for a 2 day backpack to South Twin Mountain, Mount Bond and Bondcliff via Guyot Campsite.

And on another weekend, we did more or less a marathon-hike: we hiked up Mt Washington over the Huntington Ravine and back down via Tuckerman Ravine, next day up onto Mt Jefferson via Caps Ridge Trail, and on the third day onto Mt Haystack, Mt Lincoln and Mt Lafayette via Falling Waters Trail and Franconia Ridge Trail. All together, that meant about 3500 Meters elevation gain on three days. We could feel it on Monday, we can tell.

The Huntington Ravine trail is considered the most difficult maintained trail in the whole United States, and it is rated as class on its own beyond the 'extreme' rating of trails like the Caps Ridge trail where you still have to scramble a bit. But it's really not that hard, in fact, all of the trails were interesting and funny, and definitely enjoyable.

The Huntington Ravine starts with easy scrambling first,

which gets trickier higher up.

Mt Washington is known for fast changing weather and for really bad and severe weather. So always be prepared.

Mt Washington Summit with summit building... and many, many tourists in flip flops or worse.

Ridge of the Caps.

Top of Mt Jefferson, with Mt Washington in the background.

Falling Waters Trail...

Franconia Ridge.