Waumbeck…. It’s such a nothing peak in my opinion. One that just needs to get done. Second farthest in the pack of 48 peaks. My usual companions met early at the LL Bean in Concord and loaded my gear in their car. Off we went on the 3 hour trip to the north. Such a great effort for such a little peak. The ride up was pretty uneventful and dark as it was well before sunrise. I was becoming accustomed to this time frame and also, this journey was turning me into quite the morning person. We joked around about the small peak periodically throughout the trip. There was the usual stop at the dunkin doughnuts at exit 28 to use the bathroom and as usual, I waited with the dog even though I had already had a travel mug full of coffee. The sun was starting to come up as we were going through Franconia Notch and it was nice to see the peaks that lined (or towered over) the highway. I always smile das I drove through this particular area and it was a smile that showed how proud I was that I had finished this section on the 48.We still had a ways to travel to get to the trail head and I found myself wishing that we would get there sooner rather than later. We continued to poke fun at the peak by calling it Waka Waka Beck. This crew allowed me to have the wildest imagination and we always seemed to have a lot of laughs on the trail and on the rides up and back (albeit at others expense sometimes). And even while I longed for closer company, these guys were great.
Once at the trail head, we began the ritualistic gear prep that every hiker seems to go through. They got the dog situated and we were off. There was a twinge of shoulder discomfort still but it was not nearly as bad as it had been. I figured that this mountain would be easy on me. After all, it was small and there was no real challenge to it. At first the trail was flat with a slight gain and we walked almost side by side because the trail was wider than normal trails. We passed a pretty cool looking well that was dry. We cracked jokes about the movie The Ring and kept moving. The dry trail gave way to slush and snow along with some patchy ice. Abby, the dog was already enjoying the trail by running at top speed past us and turning around to run back and do it all again. This of course proved our point that dogs hike the mountains twice while we humans only hike them once at any given time.
As we climbed, I began to feel winded. This often happens to me on these hikes given my lungs work overtime a lot and I can’t really help it. I thought to myself that this mountain was too small to even think about trying to kick my ass. Soon though I was calling for a break in the hiking. Just so I could slow things down a little and catch up with myself. A note about my hiking with Hashimoto’s Disease; it sometimes causes me to have palpitations that echo in my ears as well as a respiratory system that works overtime along with my cardiovascular system (they are kind of joined together). And let’s also not forget that I have coordination problems on a regular basis on flat ground. It can get dicey on a trail and I can fall… A lot. I can’t help it. The muscles just kind of give out and I go down. The trick to me is that I have no control over it. It’s either going to happen or it’s not. I can’t predict it either. So, I will have great hikes and walks and days. And then I will have really sucky hikes, walks, and days. The trick of it all is to just live life and take things as they come. It has never gotten so bad that I have thought I should turn around and if it ever did, well, I would surely do that. There’s no cure for what I have. There’s not even treatment for me right now. I truly just have to live with it and I do. Under a careful regime of a gluten free and organic diet as well as a handful of vitamin supplements twice a day, I live with it.
So, I brought all that up because it was not the mountain that actually wanted to kick my ass. It was my thyroid. As we continued our ascent of the peak, we laughed and joked more and then I began to stumble. Followed by the first of many falls. At least when I did fall, it always seemed graceful and I never hurt myself. It was more embarrassing for me than anything else and again, it was something that I just needed to take with a grain of salt while my hiking partners wondered what was in my water bladder beyond the tap water. Again, I took in all the jokes and while I offered up an explanation, I just continued to hike my hike. I no longer thought that I had something to prove just by completing the mountains by the time I was 40. I also wanted to do this for everyone else that was suffering from some kind of autoimmune disease. After all, if I can do this, so can a lot of other people. I had helped myself out of a depression through hiking. Now, it appeared that I was helping myself cope with my Hashimoto’s Disease.
All of these thoughts ran through my head as I was hiking up the most obnoxious trail that was leading us to the Waumbeck summit. I was in the conversation at times but not fully. The first summit we came to was a 3000 footer by the name of Star King. Not a very impressive summit but still a “bonus” peak. As we continued on to our destination, we came across the most curious find to date. A chimney in a clearing that was functional and looked as though it had actually been used recently. I imagined camping here in the clearing with someone special and using the chimney to give off amazing light and heat. It warmed me and made me focus on something other than how I was feeling. The path to The Waumbeck summit was right next to the chimney and we knew this because there was a little diamond shaped marker that made it known. More curious things about this trail were the trees marked with the number 68. We came across one in the middle of the trail and then a second one between the chimney and the summit. After seeing that, we reached the treed in summit and kind of half-heartedly took our summit pictures and turned right around to head back to the car. It seemed like the end could not come fast enough for us and even though we joked all the way back to the car, I believe that we each were happy to have gotten that one out of the way.