In central New Hampshire, Mount Major is our go-to mountain for people who visit us from Away. Why just last year my Arizona State buddies, Rich from Jersey and Gale, a Michigander, climbed this very mountain overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee to celebrate 49 years of friendship.
To celebrate Owen’s seventh birthday, Hannah and I with his parents, our daughter Molly and her husband Tip, will climb with Owen to the mountaintop.
Owen has a history of trail hiking. Two and a half years ago (2017) when his Omi (Hannah) fell down the cliffside in San Ysidro Canyon in Montecito, California, it was he and his mom who hurriedly hiked back, ahead of a seriously injured Hannah, for one and a half miles to alert the paramedics and have the ambulance in the go position. Just this past February (2019), Owen hiked for three plus hours with us, his brother Max and parents up and down Rattlesnake Canyon in Santa Barbara, California.
Whenever possible, all good Dan and Hannah hikes begin with breakfast out. Today our diner of choice is the fabulous Farmer’s Kitchen in Farmington, NH. With huge portions of eggs, home fries, toast, kielbasa, and pancakes, we are fully satisfied and ready to rock and roll.
Did I say we woke at 5A to leave York, Maine by 6A so we could breakfast at this popular cafe at 645A to beat the crowds? I didn’t think so. When we leave the Farmer’s Kitchen at 730A this early Saturday in August, there is already a line of people waiting for a table.
And speaking of crowds, Mount Major is monstrously popular such that when we finished the hike, the trailhead parking lot for 50 vehicles is full and cars line route 11 for a quarter of a mile in each direction.
Being early birds, we secure a primo parking spot at 815A and select the 1.5 mile blue blaze trail to the top. Immediately we are greeted by a wide trail of rocks and more rocks that rises steadily to the summit. Rocks and seven-year-olds are like spaghetti and meatballs. While the four adults follow the trail, Owen scoots up and over any large boulder on or near the trail as if he’s been given a personal invitation by each one.
The blue blaze trail then levels off for a Bill Bryson-like walk in the woods before turning left for our assault of the mountaintop. Full of spunk and joyfulness, Owen weaves in and out of the adults as he climbs up and over the stony trail as well as scampering up on all fours when the rock faces pose a challenge.
Within an hour we have summited, looking out to Lake Winnipesaukee to our east.
Choosing the orange blaze trail for our descent, we have 1.6 miles that seems less steep, though there are stony-sides that require careful stepping.
Owen is a joy on the trail and in our lives with his positive exuberance. Grandparents around the world know how fortunate Hannah and I are to have Owen (and his five-year-old brother Max) in our lives on a regular basis.