Thursday, October 29, 2009

The White Mountains in 3.5

How long does it take to get to New Hampshire's White Mountains from the Capital Region (Albany, NY area)? 5 hours, 6 hours, 7 hours? Apparently, somewhere in that range for the uninformed and unimaginative.

Much to the chagrin of most, and after extensive route setting it is time for me to smugly gloat. I have it down to a very respectable sub 3:25 drive time to the Western Whites. Add in a gas stop and pee break and you are still at your destination in less than 4 hours.

I hear the bullshit calls, now go ahead and wipe the spit off your monitors because I have an independent witness, and my witness was also insistent it wasn't possible. As far as my speed, nothing crazy. I like having a drivers license, and some (however limited) money left in my checking account.

Why on earth would I blog about this? Simple, we met quite a few people on the trail this weekend, and each time where we were from came up, people said, “wow, Albany, that is a long drive to go hiking.” Well I agree (actually I don't but I hope others do and stay off my White Mountain trails, just like others hope I stay off their White Mountain trails), but 3:25 is very reasonable for a weekend of hiking. Bearing in mind that when I lived in the NY Metro area, at times I drove to NH and/or the Adirondacks 3-4 weekends a month, and those drives were in the 5 to 7 hour range, driving mostly on interstates at 65-75mph. We are talking 600-800 mile round trip weekends with 10-14 hours plus behind a wheel. It's been a long time since I had to do those, and I don't miss 'em.

As far as the route, well, it's too complicated to spell out. Honestly, there is no big secret except for my little shortcut at the end, which most people probably don't take because it's remote, extremely curvy, hilly and deep in moose territory. All I do is take the small curvy mountain roads that everyone else avoids like a case of herpes. Since I travel at the off hours (overnight and early morning) I am able to keep up my average speed on the back roads, and I shave many miles off the odometer. Moose and deer are my only significant impediments to arriving safely and quickly at the trail head.

Going via 90 and 91 like my kin from the NYC Metro, it would take me about 6 hours even though the average speed would be 20mph faster than the typical 45-55mph back roads. Cutting across VT 9 is faster and shorter but not nearly as good as going NE across VT. The total distance of my routes is less than 180 miles to Lincoln, so doing the math I'm averaging just over 52mph yet still getting there faster and using less gas.

Don't even get me started on my shortcuts through VT when I hike or ice climb in the Green Mountain state. Forget the pavement, go dirt and cut your mileage in half!

Bottom line, I've said it time and time again, if you live between Albany and Glens Falls, you like the outdoors and you like to travel, in my opinion you live in the best part of the Northeast. NYC, Boston and Montreal are all 3 hours from me. The Catskills and Gunks are just over 1 hour from me. Lake Placid is under 2 hours.Most places in Vermont's central or southern Green Mountains are within 2 hours, and of course, the White Mountains are between 3:30 and 4:15 depending on eastern or western end of the range. And no worries, I can ski, ice climb, hike, bike and paddle 5-30 minutes from my back door.

So break out a map, and enjoy the back roads of VT and NH as you head off on a drive to get to your favorite mountain destinations.