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Recovering... Realization... The Twins and Galehead (again).

  To get back on track, please read my entry for Garfield and Galehead prior to this latest entry....

    I was hesitant to join the next hike with my usual group. It was not that I was afraid that it would happen again (the getting delayed). Or the fact that my back was not fully healed yet (I could bandage it up). I just wanted to forget about the last hike and I knew that I would not be able to. I knew that I would have to talk about it… Again. And I would have to answer more questions about the stupid decisions I had made. I’m tough on myself. More tough than anyone else is on me. It doesn’t make me feel any better when I can’t forget something that happened. I would need to work on forgiving myself for the things that happened. But first, I needed to take a deep breath and hit the trails again.
 On this particular weekend, we’d be climbing to the top of Twin Mountain. Grabbing the two peaks of north and south and I would also be accompanying my partners for their climb of Galehead. I figured that this would be good for me given how the hike ended last weekend that included Galehead.  So, I packed up the night before, much like I had done so many other weekends before and was on the road early as we were using two cars. My car would be left at the Galehead trailhead and would be used to drive over to the other car placed at the trailhead for Twin Mountain. It makes it easier rather than tracing steps back to the starting point.  This would also give me time to get myself together before the rest of my party arrived. I always found it nice to sit in the quiet and run through the trails in my head. This morning the quiet time was more than welcome to help me focus on the day. Once everyone got to the trail head, the energy would change and the day would be off and running.

 Indeed, that was the case and I piled into their car for the ride over to the trailhead for Twin Mountain. I was quiet (as usual) and stayed in my own thoughts. I so wanted to avoid any comments that might get said. I really just needed to keep things positive or else set the hike on its side and just get through it. To my favor, the comments were minimal and there was a lot of concern expressed for what had happened.    I was grateful and hoped that it would be left at just that for the afternoon. Getting our gear situated and starting out was pretty uneventful. We took our usual order with me in the middle. There was a joke that it was for my own protection and I laughed with them. As we kept walking, I felt my pack weighing on my shoulders and I wondered if I was going to make it to the end of the day.  AS I felt its weight, I remembered falling on North Lafayette and how much that actually scared and hurt me. I was brought back to the present by the bell attached to the dog’s collar. And silently I wished that I would not go back there.

 We came to a significant water crossing that seemed impossible to get around. The river was wide at this section and we could see the trail continue on the other side. We just could not figure out how to get over to it. We seemed to split up to look for a way across. The dog was lucky because she could just walk through it to the other side. We came together after a short time and after trying to build ourselves a rock bridge. Finding a way to rock hop to some logs and then using the logs to get to the other side.  Whenever this presented itself, I was always grateful for what little gymnastics I took as a child. I still had balance. Even though my illness has made it a little more difficult these days, I was still able to get across some water on a beam.
 It was after this water crossing that the trail began its traditional climb upwards. There were the usual comments about wishing htat there was an escalator to the top and if the AMC would allow that as we moved to finish our respective lists of the 48. I was concentraiting on the snow that was on the ground as well as the ice that was accumulating on the trail. Conversations were happening however, I was not focusing on them. As the trail continued to climb, my shoulder from where I fell last weekend was beginning to hurt. My pack was heavy and I was beginning ot wonder if I was going to make it to the summits let alone back down to the car again. I pressed on under the watchful eyes of my hiking companions who were none the wiser about my condition.

 As we climbed, the trees formed a kind of ceilingless corridor for us to walk down. Occasionally, this corridor would give us a view to admire.  The wind was picking up at the time we reached the first summit of north twin. Each of us took a turn sitting on the cairn for our summit picture and there was the usual congratulations handed out. The trails seemed to go in every direction and we soon found that South Twin was 1.3 miles away. As we set off to make the next peak, I wondered about time and if I would be out after dark… Again. I would drift back to my experience the previous week on Garfield and would wonder what I could have done differently (beyond not hiking with the guy I was with). The conversation would occasionally drift back to last weekend however, it had become more light hearted and I was finally at ease and able to laugh (outwardly). The three of us would play a good natured game of “Blaze”. Where we’d call out “Blaze!” every time we saw one and kept track of the number. I was not so good at this considering my thoughts would often be drifting elsewhere and this would cause me to be last in the game (and I didn’t mind).

 There were great views of the Presidential Range and the surrounding mountains on our way to South Twin. As we walked through the corridor of trees, we each took in the views in our own way. Sometimes it was audible and sometimes it was just a smile. I loved the fact that at certain points on the trail, you could look way ahead of where you were standing and actually see the trail cut into the mountain. It provided me a certain amount of perspective to the hike nad showed me the path ahead was clear. Of course, as the mountains would dictate, we needed to descend one peak slightly to ascend the next one. This also included a walk on a ridge between the two peaks which seemed to be my favorite. Although this was not an open ridge, it was a lot easier to walk on than the constant up of a trail. Again came the jokes about taking the easy way to the top.
 The sun was shining down on us and yet the wind made it still feel as though winter had indeed arrived. We remained bundled up in our fleece and our hats and gloves. As we began to ascend south twin, I was again painfully aware of what had happened last weekend. My shoulder began speaking to me in not so nice terms. This awareness also caused some mild anxiety within me since we were so far into the hike. I chose to keep quiet and work through these feelings on my own. As we crested the peak, we all laughed at the cairn that looked like a ship. There were more than a few jokes about the sight of it. The wind had picked up considerably and made it hard to hear someone talking even though they were standing right next to you. It was 2 in the afternoon when we hit the second summit and we still had one more to go. Down from South Twin we went and began making our way to Galehead.

  The trail was rocks covered in ice that quickly proved our need for traction on our feet. It was a little less than a mile to the Galehead hut and then it was only a half mile to the summit of Galehead. I was determined to see this hike through at the moment and even though my shoulder would continue to drag me back to last week, I pressed on. Things continued to be light hearted and focused on our individual journeys for the completion of the 48. I had a plan to finish before I turned 40 and also figured while I am at it, I might as well try to finish in one calendar year. Giving me an end date at the end of August seeing as I had started this journey September 3rd. We had a plan to finish together and then take the awards dinner by storm. The 3 of us were a force to be reckoned with and we were determined to see this through to the end.  Stopping at the hut gave us a chance to rest briefly and have some lunch. It was now about 3:30 in the afternoon and it was becoming obvious to me that a headlamp would lead the way out of this trail and back to the waiting car. I was Ok with this, given the company. After a quick lunch, we began the walk up Galehead. I laughed to myself as I remembered certain key facts about my hike up Galehead last weekend.

 It felt good to know a trail a little better than my traveling companions and yet I was still stuck in the middle of the group. This placement is not always a bad thing and I was comfortable here. Sometimes, though I want to be up front and “in charge” or I want to be on my own and hiking at my own pace and doing my one thing. My independence always calls and I get stuck between continuing this journey with others or breaking free and going solo. This feeling seems to leak into all aspects of my life and even as I crave that one special person to share this journey, I also crave my solitude.
 The group of us makes our way up to the treed in summit. It was not very exciting and I had already made this one so, it was more for my companions than for me. Although it did feel good to make the summit with better company this time around. Once again, we made a stop at an outlook for the view of the Galehead hut.  While we were admiring the view, one of my companions spoke to me again about my ordeal from last weekend. I was told how much they enjoyed hiking with me and how they wanted to continue hiking with me. I was also spoken to about how scared they were for me and that if I ever did something like that again, they didn’t know if they could handle it. I felt a mixture of sadness and shame at this discussion. Then one of my companions produced rock with the name of last week’s hiking companion and I was told that I needed to cleanse the mountain and to do that I needed to throw the rock over the side. I laughed and took the rock and heaved it over the edge and far into the forest below. We joked that we hoped no one was down there to get hit by the randomly tossed stone.

 Daylight was growing short and we began our descent to the parking area below. As we passed the junction of the Garfield Ridge trail, there were a few jokes tossed about me wanting to relive the hike over to Garfield. I smiled and kept hiking. Ever the overly sensitive person (since childhood),I tried to laugh along with them but inside, I was becoming tired and really needed to get back down to the car and on my way home. It was 4 miles down to the road at this point and I now knew that we’d need headlamps to get back to the car. I was also familiar with this trail given the previous week and still I was caught in the middle.  I could feel my feet growing heavy and as if they were incased in cement. My legs were doing better than I thought and my shoulder was holding up. We continued to hike out following the Gale River trail and as we did, the talking became less and less. Soon we were each in our own worlds only to snap out of them at about 7:30pm. When we reached the car that would take the rest of the party to the other car. A long day and a successful hike completed so that we were each a step closer to the end of our goals.

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