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Cheddar on Mt. Cabot and a Greater Sense of Peace

                There are two things in my life that will help me forget everything else in my life, the mountains and my dog (even if it’s only temporary). Call it an escape from responsibility, a lack of attention to those things that are important at ground level, or an insane attachment to both an animal and a region of New Hampshire… I go there to just be. To connect with who I am and what I love to do. Isis is my world and I am thrilled to have her on this journey with me. I am also thrilled that so many show so much love for her. Today, Isis and I decided to tackle Cabot. It would be a warmer day than when we did Carrigain and the views would be missing for the snowy cloud cover. Traveling early in the morning, given the distance from home to the trail head, I was able to catch a fantastic sunrise and even took myself off auto pilot to pull over and snap some pictures. We were at the trail head within the fish hatchery in Berlin NH, by 745am. Gates looked as though they were no longer closing them at night as the snow was piled up from the plows. Isis and I got ready for the day.
                Cabot’s Bunnell Notch trail was well packed and gaining new snow from today’s current snow fall (up to 3 inches). I opted to bare boot it and chanced it by leaving the snow shoes in the car. The walk in was easy and quick except that all the over grown scrub was like a field of sticks for Isis and she wanted EVERY ONE of them.  So we struggled a little to keep moving. All water crossings on this section were solidly bridged and easily stepped over. Isis got her groove going and soon ignored the tempting sticks. Temps were kind today and even though the wind was gusting, I felt warm. Today was proving to be just what I needed in terms of being right with my world. The snow was falling now the forest took on a magical look with the trees and the frozen stream. Isis and I made our way up some of the steep inclines and were met or rather Isis wanted to wait and meet two gentlemen who were coming up behind us. We would later find out that they were Craig and Vince from Portland Maine (we would meet them at the summit). I let them pass as it was better for Isis. It seems that she does not like people behind her as she keeps checking on them and stopping progress on the way up. Soon they were out of sight and Isis was still following their scent.

                We moved deeper into the forest the temps dropped and the wind howled. Isis kept a good pace however, her nervousness was noted. Right before the turn of Killkenny Ridge trail, I almost thought of scooping her up and turning around. I gave it a few more feet though and the winds died as we turned away from them. She was fine after that turn. The snow was a little deeper on this section and I continued to bare boot it doing well. I was prepared for traction at the Mt. Cabot trail. Snow caked onto the trees and gave the forest an even more enchanted look. Isis and I were making great time for our early start and I knew that we would take our time on the vertical gain of the Mt. Cabot trail. We have not seen a soul since Craig and Vince passed us and their boot prints were being blown away in the wind. We came to the junction of the Mt. Cabot trail and I paused to feed Isis and take something to drink myself. Winter time sees me cut down on my food and I drink Gatorade over water. I make sure Isis has enough of food and treats to keep her going. She gobbles up some trail mix and we get moving fairly quickly.

                Heading up the Mt. Cabot trail, we are not that far from the summit at this point. It’s just a vertical climb to the cabin and then a short trip up beyond that. Isis and I climbed the trail and stopped part way up prior to the ice flows to put on traction. Well, that is the human put on her traction. Crampons were great to grab the ice and we were on our way again. Stopping was minimal and when we came to the outlook, Isis went right out to it and turned right around due to the winds. She does not like high winds at all and I don’t’ blame her.  We continued through the winter wonderland to the cabin and opted to stop on our way out for soup and cheese. We continued to the summit and the snow was getting deeper. Honestly, snowshoes could have been worn here however, carrying them for just that short section of trail hardly made sense. The traffic would pack out the trail with bare boots. As we made our final approach, we smiled at Craig and Vince who were still at the summit. Crowed around the tree with the marker on it, we chatted and had our picture snapped and then hastily made our way back to the cabin as the winds were picking up.  Isis and I were caught up by another group who recognized her from on line postings and we again stopped and chatted. It was really uplifting to me that so many people were recognizing her.

                 Once back at the cabin, we piled inside and Isis had all four pieces of cheese! I think I got a little piece I had broken off one of them. I also had some of my bacon, garlic, and tomato soup which thankfully stayed warm today (proof that temps were higher than our jaunt on Carrigain). I talked with Crag and Vince for a while about gridding and hiking and passed on a few tips for Monadnock as they liked to climb my little local mountain. Isis was really not crazy about the cabin as she was very nervous inside there and would not stop moving around. We all only stayed long enough to refuel and I signed the log book for Isis and I. We then began our usual quick descend. Along the way, we ran into more people that recognized Isis and stopped briefly to chat. Today, I felt very much connected to the hiking community as we laughed and made our way back down the trail. Again, it warmed my soul to know that so many recognized Isis and by association, me.

                The descend took us no time (as usual) and it would seem that in the lower trails, all tracks from previous groups were erased by the wind. Isis put her nose down and of course sniffed her way out and thankfully, there was enough of a groove in the trail to know the way to go. Making our way back through the field of sticks, Isis was on auto pilot and had only one destination, the car. Once back there, we again met up with Craig and Vince who made the comment that they noticed I had Cabot cheese on Cabot today. I explained that it was really not done on purpose. I just love the cheese. They were on their way shortly after our arrival to the cars and heading back to Portland. Isis took her position curled up in the passenger seat and I changed from my hiking cloths to some dry and comfortable clothes for driving the long way home. Snow continued to fall for the entire commute which slowed us considerably. This was the face of winter, long commutes to the place that allowed me to forget for a while. There is no need to carry all my doubts, fears, and disappointments in a place where I found such peace. Or is it that I carry those things to the mountains and the mountains help me to see things a lot clearer? Isis, she’s just the constant in my life that makes me smile. Once back at home, she fell asleep on the ottoman and I poured myself a nice glass of wine with some dark chocolate infused with lavender and blueberry. My day was complete and I was at peace. Ready for two days of rest...

                Moving through lists… Isis is now at five to go on her multi season 48! I could potentially finish her off this week with 3 trips. Only the weather and a decision for me to repeat some peaks outside of my winter list (they would add to a second grid for me and take away a day of true winter counts) are to be considered. Me? I am at 45 for round two. I just don’t feel that important at the moment. My little girl is the rock star.    

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