Have you wondered what a bachelor party might look like during a coronavirus quarantine?
Well, wonder no more, on this blog we aims to inform.
A couple of months back, the E Streeters conspired to pull together a safe, socially distanced bachelor party for Andrew in advance of his pending nuptials to Katie
As with everything during a time of COVID, the event took some considerable planning by Best Man Ben, with some local geography assists from Scott, whose lakefront home is only a couple of miles down the road from the two mountains we decided to scale - Belknap and Gunstock.
Once it was decided that the soiree would need to take place outside from start to finish, we narrowed it down to a manageable climb for those in the group who haven't scaled a mountain in the past.
As it turns out, we had the parking lot, and just about the entire mountain all to ourselves.
But before we began our upward trek, like any member of the Appalachian Mountain Club will tell you, it's time for donuts from the Donut Shack.
And with a moderate amount of marshmallow donuts consumed, it was time to begin our climb.
And almost immediately, stop it, so Mike, Scott and Sean can make sure we're on the right trail.
Our orienteering under control, we chose the path less travelled. At least on this particular Saturday.
Ain't nothing like the Great Outdoors
This first day of August proved to be an especially warm one, with temperatures close to 90 for most of the hike. Hydration a must for all!
Bridges early on in the lower terrain, but none to be seen in the higher elevations
Here, we see the silverback gorilla at home in his native habitat. One can only surmise what he is doing in this deep copse.
Group shot at Round Pond
And then the actual climbing portion of the program commenced in earnest.
Followers of this blog have read past posts about mountaintop cairns.
Cairns are manmade piles of rocks, derived from the Gaelic word "carn" which translates to a "heap of stones."
For decades, mountain climbers have been building cairns atop mountains to serve as survey markers, and directional structures.
The top of Belknap boasted a couple of dozen small, directional cairns.
Finally, getting above the treeline, we start to catch our first glimpses of the surrounding lakes and mountains in the Belknap region
The Two Towers
The Two Wowers
Ready for their tuxedos
These two put the guns in gunstock
Heading to the summit, we can see Lake Winnipesaukee, and to its inner waters, Rattlesnake Island and the Spence Estate
Scenes from high up on the active fire tower atop Belknap
In case you're wondering, Scott is on the phone with Carlos, who, while late to the climb because of a work commitment, was at this point of the day running up the southern slope to rendezvous with the rest of us.
Down below the fire tower, Benjamin broke out exactly the kind of hydration everyone is looking for after scaling a mountain in 90 degree weather
Tito's vodka, to commemorate the climb
Belknap Mountain was named after Jeremy Belknap, a preacher, historian and author of the History of New Hampshire
From Belknap, it was on to our second mountain of the day, its next-door neighbor, to the northwest, Gunstock.
Gunstock is the second highest peak in the Belknap Mountains, with an elevation of 2,240 feet.
Not much happening at the top of the ski lift. Just us and the birds.
Back down at the base, it was time to connect with a handful of fellow celebrators, who, while they couldn't make it up for the climb, were there for the lakeside feedbag
I'm proud to be able to share these pics with you because the event took place nearly two months ago - and everyone walked away healthy and COVID-free.
That's because we rolled with the punches that 2020 has thrown at us, and incorporated safety measures into every conversation we had about putting together a bachelor party that Andrew would truly appreciate. We kept the entire event outdoors, from start to finish, and made sure to have one another's backs on the safety front.
Post climbs, Andrew said the day went pretty much how he might have scripted it even if we weren't in a pandemic, so kudos all around to those who helped contribute to make it a memorable double mountain day, and a healthy bachelor party for the Belknap Bachelor Bros.