All week you watch the weather and you have a perfect plan for the weekend which, if you are me, sometimes starts on Friday. But not this week. As of Tuesday, I was working since my car needed brakes and I spent Tuesday at the car shop instead of working. I'm OK with these things and the weather, I thought was going to hold for Saturday. So, I planned on hiking Mt. Carrigain to say Good Bye to the Whites until September. I had my pack with a weeks worth of supplies and it was topping out now at 50lbs. I will need to cut a few things naturally before we leave for the LT. But I took it out at 50lbs anyway to see if I can. As I head down 302 to Sawyer River Road, I see 3 hitchhikers with huge packs. I pull over and pick them up. Gear in the trunk and they are on their way to a resupply at the general store. I was happy to do it, even for another door mishap which I fixed on my own. All's well that ends well and I am getting ready at the trail head in no time. The good thing about this time of year is that there is no road walk. We only have 5 miles to the top today.
Isis and I start out to a quiet trail and I'm feeling really good. I've added my Superfeet insoles from my boots to my hiking shoes and that seems to have made a difference. It's a familiar and well groomed trail to start. Nice brushing and clearings without an immediate climb. I feel a little twinge in my right foot and stop to tighten my laces. Maybe this contributed to the day? As we kept walking, Isis is sampling water from everywhere and the sun is out, making it warm. I am determined to just take my time today. To spend a full day out there and really take it in. I was hopeful for the sun to remain out too. People began catching up to us and passing and as they did they paid attention to two things. Isis and my large pack. I gladly explained my situation and they were happy for me. They were rooting for me and it felt really good. There were those that were quiet and kept to themselves too which I was also good with. All were in great spirits going up. The water crossing was a non-issue and very walkable on half submerged rocks. Not deep at all and no feet got wet. Isis even did it on her own figuring out which way to go. One sole we ran into was someone I originally ran into in 2013 on The Crocker's in Maine. He remembered me and we reminisced about that day. The search for Inchworm and his knee issues. I figured I would catch him around the summit given todays slow pace.
Isis and I just kept to ourselves and hiked the day away. I was remembering my land marks from other hikes and remembering how good the trail was with snow. As you begin to climb in ernest, the rocks are uneven, loose, and jagged. It makes it hard on the feet. I felt as though I was curling my toes on my right foot a lot more and compensating for the rocks. I was slowing down for sure and Isis was looking for water at the higher elevations (there is very little). I continued to navigate the rocks and stop for rests. We talked to a lot of hikers on the way up and even with a light drizzle starting, people were in great spaces. There was one other dog going up and it looked like a corgi mix. We did not really get a good look as Isis was not a fan. Nearing the break in tree line, I was deciding on whether to turn back or not. My foot was starting to become a focus rather than a thought. The hiker from the Crocker's met up with us again and was curious as to why I had slowed. I explained my foot to him and he sympathized given his experience with knees on the Crocker's. He also told me to save it for the LT... Turn back. I had determined that I would go to the ridge (even with no view) and call it. It was really great to run into him again and I felt like I could go on. It's funny how small the world is sometimes in the mountains.
The remainder of the hike out went very slow. Even on the flatter sections of trail, my foot was in pain and every step I could not find comfort. I would fall and loose my balance. I'd scream and cry too. I think I finally had that experience like the scene from the movie Wild where she screams her shoes go over the edge. Except I am screaming from pain. Even still, I walked out on my own power which was what I was determined to do. Assisted by my Leki hiking poles, I realize now that I can use them and hike with Isis on leash and they do help take some of the weight off my legs. I will be using them on the LT. As I got back to the car and loaded everything in the car, including myself and Isis, I laughed and smiled. It was a GREAT DAY. No summit needed, I passed the test. I'm ready (after a rest) for my LT trip. I'm stronger for what I experienced today and thankful that even though I cried and screamed and carried on about hacking off my foot, I made it out. In hindsight, I should have turned back a lot sooner or just not gone at all. But I can't change much of that now. I can only move forward always. And as I sit here on my couch with my foot on two pillows, another dose of Vitamin I on board, I regret nothing.
So long to The White Mountains of New Hampshire. The next time you hear from me will be from the Long Trail through Vermont.