The weather had subsided from Sunday however, the winds were still not low enough to take Franconia Ridge and all reports were telling me that it probably would not happen Friday regardless of the low winds, ice will suddenly become a factor. While everyone was working today, I had a chance to play out in the cold and snow again and I was happy to be out there. I love how I get up earlier to play than I do for work. It just seemed to make more sense to me. I’m still not a morning person and then again, I have the drive to the mountains to wake up so, it works for me. When I have a vacation, I usually take advantage of it and I hike, taking a few trips spread out over the days. Today, I was going for the Tripyramids with Isis by way of Pine Bend Brook and we would have company too. Our new friend Joe would join us as his plan was to go up the Tri’s as well. We drove up to the Whites with beautiful dawn colors of blues, peaches, and pinks and that was followed by a brilliant sunrise getting closer to the mountains. When we got to the trail head after a slightly slick ride on the Kanc, there was one other Vermont car parked across the road.
Isis and I started out about fifteen minutes ahead of Joe, knowing that he would catch up to us and more than likely at one of the water crossings. As we walked, Isis and I enjoyed the relatively flat entrance to the trail and moved rather quickly. No spikes needed yet as there was just a light coating of snow. The temps were still very cold and the wind had gone down considerably. I was still feeling the chill on my face so, I opted to put on my balaclava so help cut out some of the chill. I knew that I would soon be extra warm though as I walked as temps do fluctuate going up in elevation. I also kept my sunglasses on to protect my eyes. Sure enough, as Isis and I crossed one of the first significant water crossings, Joe caught up to us and the three of us were off. Having never hiked with Joe before, I was excited. I was enjoying the experience of hiking with all kinds of different hikers. We passed the time talking about our experiences and seemed to hardly notice the trail passing us by. The conditions were good even though they were a little cold and the trail down here was pretty easy. We reached the ravine and the elevation gain began. Isis was enjoying all the sticks on the trail as well as the many smells of dogs past. She began rock hopping up the ravine with us and it was here we decided to put on our spikes. There was significant ice on one section that this made a big difference in getting up to the summit as we continued up the Pine Bend Brook trail.We were rewarded shortly after this with a relatively flat section that received a little more snow than other sections of the trail and was bathed in sunlight. I enjoyed this to give my lungs and heart a rest. I had told Joe earlier about why I began hiking mountains. When you are diagnosed with a thyroid disease and tested for some pretty tough cancers, it gives you some perspective and why not climb some mountains on top of it because you are turning forty? As he was new to hiking with me, I told him about my symptoms and that thankfully I did not have too many issues on the trail. A doctor’s appointment the next day would hopefully clear me for another year of fun in the High Places. Thankfully, I have been able to pull myself back to decent health. We continued talking about lists and hiking stories and we laughed all the way to the ledges. Then things got a little more concentrated on. Isis and I being tethered together by a leash work well communicating and we take things slow. I am a lot warmer than most people so, I usually take my time regardless of temps. Joe kept moving so that his feet did not get any colder.
It was slow and tedious going up the steep sections and I stopped a lot to catch my breath and to check on my little girl. She was doing well. Not enough snow to fill in the trail and butt sledding would be tough on the way down. We eventually made it to the summit of North Tripyramid and celebrated with cheese, Dog Trailmix, and I had some slushy Gatorade along with some soup. Pictures were also snapped and we were on our way after some trail confusion as to which way to go. Joe and I monitored to temps and they were extremely cold. I pulled up my face protection over my nose several times. Isis was shivering on the north summit so, I knew we would not stay at Middle very long. We ran into another hiker with two golden retrievers who were all having a great day. We really did not talk mong because of the temps. It was that time of year to just keep moving. There were sections of the trail that were more sheltered and colder than others and I was thankful that the wind was down. A few more ups and downs to the trypyramid trail and Isis and I finally reached the summit. Quick photos were taken and even though my mouth was covered, I was still smiling (as many say, I am always smiling). Isis had moved up to 32 New Hampshire four thousand footers. I was proud and she of course had no clue.
As we walked back to the car, the trail was easier. Maybe it was because of memory or maybe it was because we were heading down. Joe, Isis, and myself kept moving fairly swiftly and even though the ledges and heading back down the ravine was slow, we still made good time (I started at 7:45a and we got back around 3pm). On one of the blow downs, we came across one of my poles. This was a step under blow down and it must have gotten caught and fell out of its position on the side of my pack on the way up. The man with the two golden retrievers must have hung it so it was visible and thank goodness because those poles are not mine. We kept walking back to the cars and watched the snow melt a little and felt the temps rise. All the while Joe and I laughed about life and some of its absurdities. We are hikers and we laughed about how we seem to pour over spread sheets and lists and count peaks. We plan trips in spite of holiday gatherings and other obligations or we try and figure out a way to grab a peak and go to the gathering after as well as take care of those off trail obligations while keeping our counts up. When in truth, the mountains will always be there and that which we do not get in one month (like Franconia Ridge) can be moved to the next… Seems like when it comes down to it, we are all hikers that are one step away from obsessed. It helps me to remember that I’m hiking for my health, the beauty of it all, and time with Isis on the trails I love. The counts are a bonus. Today was a great day in the chill of late fall to visit the Tripyramids and the company was a welcome addition.