White Mountains with Backcountry Yoga - Chris Kolasa


White Mountains Adventure with Backcountry Yoga

July 29, 2017

#chriskophoto

I was fortunate enough to join Backcountry Yoga (www.backcountryyoga.com) on one of their weekend retreats to the White Mountains. I had the opportunity to photograph the expeirence which was nothing short of incredible. I met so many great people, developed new friendships, marveled upon nature's endless beauty and was able to hit reset with a clear mind ready to take on the week ahead!

On Saturday morning, I departed the desolate city of Boston at the early hour of 5 am, a miraculous sunrise enveloped the sky, the the world felt all mine as the city slept, a good sign for the weekend to come. Anticipation rose as radio and cell phone signal faded out and I got deeper and deeper into the White Mountains.

A busy beautiful summer day in the mountains, starting at AMC Highland Center in Bretton Woods. Gear check. Food check. Head count. Trail talk. All good to go! At the trail head we made our introductions and started to make our way into the forest. We followed winding trails, crossed boulders, hopped over dried up brooks and downed branches. Along the trails, Laura, our guide and owner of Backcountry Yoga, took us down by a  waterfall where one could truly feel away from it all. This was yoga session #1, a waterfall meditation to get the group integrated into the environment. 

After the session, our bodies nimble and our minds clear, we made our way up to AMC Mizpah Spring Hut which is nestled under the peak of Mount Pierce. Here we had our first real food break.

The Hut provided the ultimate backcountry experience for hikers and campers alike, equipped with bunks, blankets, restrooms and most importantly hot meals with coffee! Trips like this require months of foresight, as the huts fill up fast! Backcountry Yoga had made all prior accommodations months in advance, we all bunked up, dropped off any excess items and made our way to our first 4K summit of the weekend.

We hiked a 1.7 mile saddle to Mount Jackson. There we enjoyed an incredible view of the ridge, the same ridge we would be hiking the following morning. Yoga session #2. Yoga on top of mountain. My gosh, does it get any better? Back to the hut for dinner.

A couple thousand steps and calories later, we made our way back across the saddle for what would prove to be an unexpectedly incredible feast by the amazing staff at Mizpah Hut. But first we were able to wind down with a pre-feast restorative yoga session #3. As the trees were turning gold and the clouds began to stretch overhead.. we watched in awe as the magic of the golden hour ensued.

The feast couldn't have come soon enough! Four courses, family style: delicious secret recipes (by secret I mean all you had to do is ask and they'd give it to you) homemade bread with butter, a beautiful leafy green salad, pea soup (just like mom's), and a beef stroganoff with noodles and broccoli... all followed by a frosted apple pie pound cake! A feast for kings. A perfect cap to the night however no rest for the wicked. I put down another coffee and headed to the top of Mount Pierce hoping to catch the last moments before sunset.

The sun had already set behind the trees at Mizpah Hut, I rallied with a few other individuals to go on a sunset mission. Our small crew headed out in expedited pace, and good thing we ran, we caught the sun just before it hit the horizon and then the sky blew up into vibrant reds, oranges, and pinks and the mountains sank to a blue hue. Not a moment to waste, the camera was buzzing the crew was rejoicing, and we all watched in awe of Mount Washington, Eisenhower, Jackson and Adams. We began to understand the warnings of why this microenvironment was called 'America's Worst Weather', a cold spell quickly swept in, and a fall feel quickly turned to winter and later back to summer, all within an hour. The crew departed back to stargaze at Mizpah hut, I opted to stay to photograph the Milky Way. An amazing experience. I saw so many shooting stars I was running out of wishes! After midnight, as the moon set, I decided to pack up, I began to head back down the rocky trail in the dark. With conviction to never pass on an opportunity, I only to found myself unpacking my camera again and again as breathtaking views ceased to end. The night was bountiful.

Finally back, I approached the once bustling hut, now quiet under the night sky, not a creature was stirring. I quietly crawled into my bunk and dozed off. 

We were awakened at 6:30 am by the AMC Mizpah Hut crew singing Glory Alleluia, Glory Glory Alleluia. We strolled down to a breakfast: coffee, blueberry coconut oatmeal, pancakes and sausage capped off with a wild berry tea, fueled up our bodies for the day ahead. We had a yoga session #4 to start off the day. With mind and body alike we were ready for our day’s hike. Our final ascent leads us to the top of Mount Eisenhower with a Cairn the size of a man. The trail was amazing, the views spectacular and the friendships had grown to a level of laughter with inside jokes in such a short amount of time. The experience was truly revitalizing. My mind was in a perfect state of being. I was present and truly happy with where I was - I did not want to leave, I was now ready to head back and kick the upcoming week's butt. My mind and body truly benefitted tremendously from the entire experience, made some new friends and I learned a bit about myself and grew as a person.

How was your weekend?

For more pictures from the trip, check out the Backcountry Yoga Gallery

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