June 9, 2018
Wapack National Wildlife Refuge, New Hampshire
As the second national wildlife refuge I've visited, Wapack was by far my favorite. When I stepped out of my car in the parking lot, it smelled like my face was in a Christmas tree. I quickly hopped into the trail. I hiked part of the Wapack Trail, 21 miles in total, as it went through the refuge. The beginning was marked by small streams, large trees, and a fairly dark forest. I hiked steadily up for the first mile before the trail left the thick trees behind as it turned rocky. Near the top, I took a side trail and found a sunny, quiet rock face where I sat for lunch, bird listening, and fly swatting. Next, I made my way to Cliff Trail, a short loop that would lead back to Wapack Trail. To my surprise, Cliff Trail actually passed by an impressive cliff, pictured above. I spent the next hour climbing up down the boulder field and trying to find a spot to climb up the cliff face. At the end of the hour, I found a corner of the cliff about 25 feet high that I thought I might be able to climb. It didn't look very difficult, but it needed be something I could safely do without a rope. I started the short climb and was instantly reminded of my floppy-soled shoes. As I stood on the first ledge of the climb, I secured one hand and felt for the next hold that would bear by weight. I moved up to the second ledge, this one slanted and keeping me at an odd angle. I felt around yet again. Every hold I could reach felt loose or hollow. I thought I might go back down, but after an attempt, I realized that felt more difficult. Finally, I found a route off the ledge and shimmied up the top of the corner, with a knee and hand on each side. As I pulled myself over the cliff edge, I noticed it looked quite a bit higher from the top.