hated to go home without climbing to the top of a mountain, even
a small one, so I decided to take a short hike up to the top of
2340-ft Bald Mtn at the north end of Franconia Notch. After stopping
at a general store for a bottle of soda and a snack, and driving
through Twin Mountain and past the North Twin, Gale River, Garfield,
and Skookumchuck trailheads, we parked in the lot on the north
side of the
Ski Area, and walked across the road to the trailhead. Unfortunately,
as I would find out later, I made the mistake of putting the car
key in my pocket instead of its usual safe spot inside my wallet.
is not a demanding trail, although one short section up some rocky
outcrops required a little care as the rocks were covered with
slick ice due to recent melting and refreezing. On the way up,
we bypassed Artistís Bluff and headed directly for Bald Mtn first.
After going through a short flat area, the trail climbed steeply
up the summit cone, and we soon were there.
the way back down, we took the short side trail to Artistís Bluff.
This is an exposed ledge with views to the south and east. The
ledges were a bit icy, so we had to be careful not to slip and
fall all the way down to the notch.
trouble started after we got back down to the car. We were ready
to hit the road, stop for some lunch, and get home before the
weather got bad. But when I reached into my pocket for the car
key, it wasnít there. At first, I figured I might have put it
in another pocket, so I searched through all the pockets in my
coat, then all the pockets in my fleece and my pants, and then
through the entire backpack, twice. Usually, when I hike, I take
the car key off the key ring and put it in my wallet, then leave
the rest of the keys under the car seat so I donít have to carry
any extra weight or bulk. Unfortunately, this time I just stuck
the key in my zippered jacket pocket, or at least thatís what
I thought I did.
ignition lock hadnít been working right for some time, and I could
use any key, or even a screwdriver to start the engine, so I knew
that if I could get a door open, Iíd be able to drive away. I
stopped a car on its way out and asked if they might have a wire
coat hanger that I could use to fish through the edge of the door
and open the lock. They didnít. Then I stopped another, and another.
No one had a coat hanger. Finally, I found the next best thing,
and broke off the antenna from the top of the car and bent it
into a suitable shape. It wasnít quite as stiff as a coat hanger,
so every time I just about had it, it would slip off the edge
of the door lock and Iíd have to start all over again. Of course,
while all of this was going on, Muffin had started to wander around
the parking lot and I had to keep calling her back so she wouldnít
get run over.
I wedged the tip of one of my ski poles behind the edge of the
door to pry it open a little further and make it easier for me
to move the antenna wire around, and after several more tries,
the lock popped up and I was in. As predicted, one of the other
keys started the car, and we were off.