Today would be a big challenge for myself and Isis. We had determined that we would try for Galehead and possibly South Twin. If things were going well, we’d get North Twin and possibly double back and out again. A long day for sure. As I went to bed Sunday night, I was up for it. My head was in the game and I knew Isis would have only a few issues. We were going to hike with Heather and her dog Kali originally and have a good old fashioned girl hike. Silverfox was a welcome addition even if he didn’t fit the girl part (As he kept saying, he’s a guy don’t ya know.). On the ride up to the Beaver Brook cross country ski trail access area, Isis and I tried to get our head back in the game. Monday morning after all, and I should be working however, today, we had mountains to climb instead. Isis who like to be alpha dog exerted herself with Kali after a quick sniff and set the tone for the beginning of the hike. I was not too happy with this and we tended to separate them. I lagged behind on the ski trails taking stock of things and deciding what I would accomplish. There was minimal snow and ice on the ground at this point so I wanted to wait and see how it was going up to Galehead hut and would evaluate from there.
After a quick road walk we headed up the Gale River trail and quickly decided to put on traction. The snow was building along with the ice however, it was not a nearly as deep or as thick as it should be for January. The five of us made the slow trek up the steeps and I was struggling to stay in the game. My breathing was heavy and my steps were equally heavy. Isis was doing well although she was not to pleased to have to share the trail and everyone on it with Kali. I think all of us were thinking at this point that Galehead would be a great goal and if that was all we got, then we’d be OK with that. Silverfox and Heather chatted on the way up and Isis and I played clean up as we made our way over the ice and snow which was soft in places and I can attest to at least on section where it was pretty hard as my ass met the trail. I switched to full crampons for stability and added poles to get myself to the hut. Once there, Isis and I enjoyed some cheese and we dropped our packs to move on to Galehead.
I felt again like I was lagging behind as Silverfox and Heather moved up the trail. Knowing that we’d all catch up eventually, I continued to move at my own pace. The weather was warm and the sun was bright. It was a quick trip to the summit and Isis had minimal difficulty with the ice on it. I caught up to the rest of my party and joined in the laughter. We moved on to the summit after making it up the steeper sections of elevation gain and Isis and I stood for pictures at the cairn, Galehead being still very anticlimactic for my fourth visit and Isis’ first. Heading back the way we came down the frost trail and back to the hut, we stopped and picked up our packs after having something to eat and drink. I was taking care to have control over Isis due to Kali and her not having hiked together before. One by one we all made our way over to the Twin Way to head up to South Twin.
I again was lagging behind and caught up to Silverfox and Heather and Kali just before the ice over took the trail and it became steep. I opted for no poles this time to help Isis get up the ice. I was in the game now and determined to get to South Twin. I would again evaluate from there and see if North Twin was possible. The ice was easy for my crampons to grab into and everyone took it slow and checked in with one another. This was a difficult trail in summer for the vertical gain, the ice made it that much more tricky today. Only one section caused us to go off the trail and into the woods to get around too much ice. There was minimal wind which I found to be helpful and it didn’t really pick up until the final summit push. The ice dissipated and the rocks of the summit took over. Isis and I stood at the sign for yet another summit picture. It was cold on South Twin and a little more winter like. The five of us did not linger long and it was decided that we would go to North Twin and down from there rather than doubling back and going back down the ice we just came up (risking a broken something). This of course meant that we were going to have to cross the large river crossing that no hiker seems to like. I think we were all mentally preparing for that to come.
It seemed to be a short walk to North Twin and the five of us relaxed a little and enjoyed some good conversation about life and the trails. We again, encountered ice and a little more snow but not enough for snowshoes which we had left in our cars anyway. We had great views of the Presidential range on the way and we each loved the pink color to the sky. In and out of the trees, we climbed shortly to North Twin. Everyone again got pictures and a little food. The hike seemed to be getting easier for me and Isis as we finally left life below 4K behind. As we had all agreed on, we would go out by way of North Twin and walk the road as well as deal with the last large river crossing. Each of us enjoyed the trail going down from North Twin as we knew it would become less ice and snow covered. The temps were going up as well as we moved down and made our way to the North Twin trail. Again, there were some pretty icy sections to get around still and Isis continued to handle them without issue. We all continued to laugh as we moved on. The positive attitude of the group really helped keep this hike moving.
Soon, there was minimal snow and ice to deal with and Crampons were switched back to microspikes. Heather and I began discussing the water crossing we were facing and I was determined to shimmy across the log I knew would be there with Isis doing the same in front of me. The execution of this would depend on how Isis handled it. Once we got to the river, Isis actually broke through some ice and found herself a little more wet than she wanted to be. I scooped her up and made my way over to the tree trunk that was across the water. Given the height of it, I would be dependent on my leg strength to keep my balance and move Isis along too. It was going to be slow going. Thankfully Silverfox was able to assist in moving Isis as she was not pleased to be up there with me. I was thankful that his feet did not get too wet as the crossing was tricky. We moved across the trunk and Isis was able to hop to land at one point followed by me. We had each conquered the last large water crossing and were proud of it.
The group continued to walk out and soon found ourselves bushwhacking on the North Twin trail which would eventually lead us to the trail head. From there we took a trail over to little river and walked out to route 3 by the Seven Dwarves Motel. I knew exactly where I was as I had stayed there once when I finished my multi season 48. It was a long walk out however, given that we had just finished 3 winter peaks, we all thought it was well worth it. Heather and I waited as Silverfox made his way back to get his car to come pick us up rather than have us all walk the 3.5 miles on route 3. I was impressed that I was able to pull myself out of a funk and get in the game again. Completing Isis’ peaks up to #41 leaving her just 7 left and I built on my grid, my winter list, and my second, third, and fourth rounds. It was a great day mixed with a lot of emotions and discussions of life, making a good solid connection with both Heather and Silverfox. I may not have everything that I need at the moment but I have a lot and what made the day worthwhile was celebrating with a beer (shared between Silverfox and Heather) and 3 homemade chocolate cupcakes for Heather’s 37th birthday.
It is looking more likely that Isis will complete her Multi Season 48 before the next annual meeting. My winter season is in question however, I will do the best that I can.