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Attempting Carrigain...

                Originally, I was going to take Isis over the Osceola’s from the Kanc however, recent rains and then freezing temps created some pretty dangerous conditions for both Isis and myself. I went to bed thinking that I would just try it. After all, I have the gear and the knowledge to get us up and over the peaks. All the while, I would keep my little girls ability in mind and if she showed any distress, we would turn around. I woke up the next morning and the first thought I had was… Carrigain. I would attempt Carrigain instead. Being primarily a solo hiker, I need to listen to my gut a lot more and when I wake up with another peak on my mind, I go with it. It’s only going to get more challenging as the winter moves in and I was not really interested in hiking solo to a shit show on the Greeley Ponds trail. I told Heather who had plans to hike Garfield and then meet up later that my plan had changed and we would see her when we were down.

                At the trail head on Sawyer River Road, I pulled the car into the ice covered and rutted parking area and promptly got it stuck. Having not put my shovel in the car yet, I looked for something to get it unstuck by chipping the ice away from the tire which was stuck in a rut. The only thing I had was those hiking poles that I seem to be holding on to still. Hoping that I did not destroy it, those poles had once again gotten me out of a bind and continued to be a source of comedy as I carried them around with me. I pull the car to the other side of the lot so we are facing out. Isis and I headed down the road shortly after. It was a 2 mile road walk to the actual trail head and it went rather smoothly albeit a cold walk, there were no issues. Isis seemed to be doing well on the hard pack snow and even the icy spots were not even fazing her as she played all the way down the road picking up sticks and burrs that were on the road and tossing them around as if they were toys in the living room. The flowing water on the sides of the road was really forming some beautiful ice as the temps dropped.
                We made it to the trail head in a little over an hour and were making great time. I was going over the trail I remembered from August 2011 in my head which is of course completely different from the trail now in November 2013. Snow and ice covered with a breakable crust and blue ice, we pushed on following the river and making a little gain in elevation. I had forgotten how long a walk in to the real elevation gain it actually was. Isis and I enjoyed it though with claws and microspikes. I tried to make sure she didn’t get her paws too wet to prevent frost and snowballing. I was not always successful and because of this, I began watching closely as we wound our way through the wooded trail and continued to admire the ice.
                On a flatter section before the first water crossing, the temps felt cold and I began to think of myself being solo in winter and how much I was not liking that idea and then I would watch Isis and make sure that she was doing well as we walked. She seemed to be and as we arrived at the first significant water crossing, I gasped at how swift it was flowing and how deep it was. Remembering how we all just walked through it last time (in August 2011), I was concerned. I pulled out a pole to balance myself on and scooped up Isis to see if we could get across. I made it over a few rocks and then slid awkwardly on one and watched my boot go in up to my ankle. My boots are waterproof so, I am not really concerned for me. It was slipping and falling in that I was worried about  and more over slipping and losing my grip on Isis and getting her soaked that I was worried about. On top of that it was not the trip out but the tired trip back across that I was also thinking of. When you are solo, you only have you to rely on and if something were to happen to me, I would never forgive myself for what ever happened to Isis. We did an about face to rethink our approach.

                As we were thinking, two amateurs approached the water crossing and I explained the depth and swiftness. They went up the river a little ways and I stood there watching them trying to come to a firm decision for myself. As they were trying to use a tree truck to literally pole vault themselves across, I watched the first one go in with a splash. His jeans were now soaked as was his gear. He went to the other side and so did his friend. I’m not really interested in going that way so, I have made up my mind to turn back. I’m also not thrilled that these amateurs went on with the amount of water that they were exposed to. I let them go and as I was leaving the water’s edge, anther meet up group was approaching. I again explained to them about the crossing and that I was turning back to wait for it to be bridged in a few weeks.

                “You’re turning back?” One of them said to me with a tone of really (?) in her voice. I was floored that a hiker would question someone’s decision with such a tone.

                “Yes, I am turning back.” I said quietly and kept looking down at Isis. “I can get it another time.” I mumbled as I walked away.

                I was stopped by a gentleman who was lagging a little but heard the exchange. “You made the right choice to look out for her. You are her safety and she looks to you.” He smiled.

                “Thank you so very much.” I said warmly and smiled back and wished him a safe journey.

                Isis and I made it back the way we came  and back to the car in good time. She is my life right now being a single woman and a predominantly solo hiker, she is my constant companion and my most trusted one at that. She knows me and my tones and mannerisms and I know hers. If something does not feel right, I am going to check in with her and if it’s not right, we are turning around regardless of how perfect the day is or even someone else's opinion. Today, I was probably not feeling it after a very hectic holiday week where I had a doctors appointment (good news I am in remission for my Hashimoto's), trying to get ready for the holidays, roommate issues, and starting a new job the following week. In fact, I had planned a hike for yesterday except I failed to get out of bed when my alarm went off, vowing to make it out today when I did wake up. I did just that and I enjoyed my "walk". That water crossing may have been enough to get me to take notice of my little pup that was shaking and shivering in my arms as we tried to negotiate a water crossing without too much exposure to the cold water and everything may have just overwhelmed me. One thing is clear though regardless of my feelings, hikers with dogs that are not accustomed to cold water and cold temps, or are on the small side as my Isis is, may want to wait until this one is snow bridged and  has a lot lower water level.

                Isis enjoyed a nice afternoon in the sun visiting with Heather and her dog Kali as we look forward to December and the coming winter season.              

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