It’s funny to think of the past sometimes and the things that have brought us to different places in our lives. The days before hiking, the phone would be silent until 2pm. Now, the messages start on Saturday morning before opening my eyes at 4am. It was a lazy early morning of messages before I even got out of bed to get ready for the days hike. Things felt good, really good. That wall that I was facing and getting ready to crash head long into, I found a way to climb over that wall and once again hit the reset button on my life. I’ve done this far too many times than I care to mention and even still, there is no other choice than going forward for me. This would make todays hike a celebration for today, all the girls, furry or otherwise were heading to Garfield, completing another winter peak as well as a few other goals Heather and I could check off. Isis was actually just out for a walk today although, I could count this one to an eventual winter list for her.
At the winter parking lot, the sights were plentiful as some didn’t realize there were eyes on them and it set a playful tone to the day. There were 2 or 3 other cars there along with mine and Heather’s and it looked to be a busy day on the trails. We began our road walk to the trailhead and there was not too much new snow to deal with. Both Heather and I bare booted it as Kali and Isis played around us. The day was off to a great start as we laughed up the Gale River Road. The weather was looking to be spectacular regardless of the minor storm that was moving up the coast. The warmth of the day was being felt and the hat and the gloves came off.
The 4 of us began making our way up the Mt. Garfield trail and the footing was good. The ice under the snow was minimal and Heather and I continued on in just our boots. The snow was not too deep at all and I reminisced about my other three trips to this peak. As we walked the trails, we chatted about life and all that seems a little crazy to us (coming to no conclusions). We talked peaks and trails and of course, dogs. It was nice that Isis got to hike with Kali again and soon I would see if Isis could hike without a leash. I just wanted a quieter hike to work with her on that. Even still, the four legged girls were enjoying the conditions and the company too. The water crossings were flowing and not deep so, we either hopped or just walked through them. Even the dirty double cross was manageable today. The weather seemed to be warming as we made our way up the trail and I found myself taking a layer off to continue up the trail. I had already gone through a good deal of my Gatorade (suggesting that I needed to be better hydrated) and trying to catch my breath as usual. This of course is typical of my ascending any peak. My lungs simply work harder and I push them to the limit before I stop and rest. I will make this peak for a fourth time though. I was determined. The group that started out after we did caught up and as we were putting on snowshoes in the switchbacks, they passed us.
Once the shoes were on, I felt I moved a little quicker and things got much better. We continued to move through the switchbacks to the ridge trail and made our attempted at the summit. We ran into fellow hiker Tim and his chocolate lab Junior along the way. Everyone was having just a spectacular day on the trail. While the walk up was difficult for me, I was glad to be reaching the rocky summit(almost there and I have done it again!). The blue of the skies brought out the white of the snow and the winds were low compared to my other visits to the summit. Isis and I enjoyed our sharp cheddar cheese (summit rewards!) and the view was amazing. Heather and I saw that Franconia Ridge was in the clouds and we wondered how Scott was doing on his hike. Would it be a classic ridge loop or would he go for the traverse? I was hoping to find out later at the Woodstock Inn for Nachos (sadly, lack of parking and not wanting to leave Isis in the car on the main street prevented this. Maybe next time). We had our picture taken and began to make our way back down to the parking area at the head of the road.
Heather and I pretty much sat down and slid down the Ridge trail back to the Mt. Garfield trail. It was prime Butt sledding conditions and we both got some great speed going down the trail. We laughed and carried on while our dogs also ran with us. The walk down always seemed to go by twice as quick in winter because you had the opportunity to slide down half of the trail, making good time. Using my snowshoe as a rudder, I was able to steer around corners too. I had a smile from ear to ear at the end of our slide. As we made our way, Heather and I passed the time with conversations about our live and our current hiking goals. I have been thinking for a while now about how I came to be chosen to do this sport (you do not chose this, it choses you), and how I have found myself in such a tight group of hikers who are both knowledgeable and experienced on the trails. I count myself as lucky to be in the place where I am at and how many great people I have in my life because of this sport. We take our snowshoes off again and then Heather and I make our way back over the water crossings and we are pleased to make it back over the dirty double cross again with no issues. Isis and Kali are getting restless and begin playing with one another on the trail. Thankfully, the weather is still warm and the sun is still bright (regardless of the storm coming), and spirits are very happy as we find ourselves back out at the Gale River Road. Trail conditions were superb for a hike today.
It’s really funny how life has a way of taking everyone’s stuff and working it out (only when you resist do things seem to fall apart). For me, this means another new job to start in February and bringing as well as keeping old and new faces in my life. Essentially righting some bad energy I had carried with me to start 2014. Today was to be a celebration of that new job and a new start, and what better way than above 4000 ft. on a counted winter peak. Even with a wicked winter storm making a mess of the roads and seeing five accidents on my way home, I can’t help but smile at the place I am in as Isis sleeps next to me. Life is exactly as it should be and I just may see my goals for the next annual meeting fulfilled.