Rachel is my person. She brought me home from the kennel to live with her and I had no idea the places I would go back then. One month after I was in her home, she brought me to a mountain, Tecumseh and boy was it cold. That was December of 2012 and now, today she has gotten me up at quarter of 4 from my crate. I always know what we are doing when she wakes me up this early. We are going hiking in the mountains and we are both happy. She keeps talking to me about the number 48 in-between singing to the radio. I am not sure what she means but it must be pretty cool. Apparently today was going to be a long day too as she keeps telling me to rest up. So, I slept for a lot of the ride. Good thing too because the roads were crappy going to the trail head. New snow greeted us (about 2 inches) and someone who didn’t know how to park at a trail head (they were in the middle of the lot practically). Rachel spoke to them about it. She’s good for that. They didn’t listen though and I sure hope we don’t catch up to them.
Rachel puts her big snow shoes on at the car and I know that this really will be a big day. It’s warm but she put my coat on my anyway (I’ll get her to take it off later) and then we are off down the trail. The snow is heavy and probably good for snow men making but we have other things we need to do today. Rachel is having trouble with snow balling up under her shoes as well as issues with the trail due to people who didn’t wear their snowshoes to start off. She keeps tapping her shoes to get the snow out from under them. Me? I’m too busy trying to eat all the little sticks that I see on the side of the trail. They have these buds on them that I like to pick off. We are heading down the Rocky Branch trail and it seems to be nice. Not too much of a steep grade to it and it seems to level out in places. I’m pretty happy from where I am walking, even if the snow is rough because the trail is not broken out. Rachel and I keep walking and she’s talking about different things that are going on and how proud she is of me. She’s always proud of me. I could do a lap around the living room and she’d be proud of me. I love her for that.
The trail continues to be pretty flat over Engine Hill and back into the woods. Right before the turn for the Rocky Branch 2 shelter, we run into a group of college kids and it’s my chance to get loved. Some pet me and some don’t. I’m OK with that. We seem to keep moving so, I know now that this will be a big day. Rachel again mentions that this will be my 48th. Boy this must be a big deal. Even though the new snow hides the trail, we have no issues following it. Rachel continues to struggle with snowballs and her pace. My paws are fine and I want to keep moving. There are sections that are wet and I get picked up for those because Rachel does not want my paws to freeze. She puts me down and I freeze in my tracks. She takes my coat off and I start up again (told you I’d get it off me). We make our way down the trail and into what looks like deep woods. We skip something called a Bushwhack because Rachel is not confident in breaking it out on her own. So, it looks like we are taking the long way and I can see the worry on her face. We cross the frozen river twice by just walking over the ice but Rachel is cautious with me. We head back into the trees and she is getting covered in snow and tossed around like we are back on Old Speck. At least she is laughing about it because she is truly covered in snow. We caught up to the people who didn’t know how to park. One keeps asking about the Bushwhack in a French accent and if we knew where it was. Then they carry on about having to break trail and what time we expect to get to the summit. Rachel says 2pm (it’s always 2pm, that’s her cut off). They question her but she brushes it off and we keep going.
Reaching the end of their trail breaking work, it is now up to us on the Mt. Isolation trail. It’s not that bad as it was only about 2 inches of new snow. Everyone has their own level of energy and I know Rachel likes to push hers. So we keep going and suddenly, I’m in drifts up to my stomach again. OK, not that I really like this but I also know that we are getting closer to the summit so, we are not turning back. We keep going and I’m out in front on my leash as usual. I get to do all the fresh breaking. Why? I’m just a little puppy. I can tell she is getting tired though because she is not talking that much anymore. The trail is super quiet and you can’t hear the wind (and I hear everything. I also smell everything too.). I keep pushing as Rachel keeps walking and together we are breaking trail to the summit. What a day for me!
We hook onto the Davis Path and it continues to be unbroken and the trail is in better shape because of the snow. At least that is what Rachel tells me because she’s done this before. We push on and even though we are both tired, we cut the trail all the way to the summit spur. We pause to catch our breath and Rachel looks up. The final push is probably the last 200 or so feet of elevation gain and the trail is full of snow. Rachel puts up her televators and sends me ahead. I break through and get to flat spots so that she can then move up the trail and get to the same flat spot by using threes and rocks to lift herself up. We work well together and as we are moving up the trail, I dig a first aid book for back country out of the snow. I was going to rip it up but Rachel took it from me. Next thing I know we are coming out of the trees and onto the rocks and I land right in a deep snow drift (it’s up to Rachel’s knee and I’m not that big). She picks me up and puts me over the drift and we find the second pile of rocks. She’s carrying on about how proud she is again and how this is my 48th summit (reality is, I have 64 because she took me to other states to climb with her so this is my 48th New Hampshire) and how I have seen them all. She also mentions something about a club and I hope that it’s a fun club. She gets me up on the big pile of rocks for a picture (she has not taken a whole lot today) and then she pulls something out of her bag. It’s a yummy venison sausage for me. My reward for a whole lot of hard work and I inhaled it. She pats my head and before she even eats anything, we are off again and just a half hour shy of her cut off time.
Heading back was a lot easier since we had already done the work. It was still a long walk back and Rachel fell a few times. Once or twice I thought she was going to get a face full of snow. The trail we had worked hard to break out was still in good shape and we walked as quick as tired legs and paws could carry us. We made it back to the car by almost 4pm and that was a pretty good day considering we didn’t take any of those bushwhacks that Rachel was talking about. I was loaded in the car and Rachel separated out the food that she wanted (my cheese!) and took her shoes off. I was busy licking the snow and ice off my leash and she offered me some real water while she changed. She patted my head and kissed my nose and told me again how proud she was of me. I still don’t get it. All I do is go for walks with her and she’s proud of me? I’m apparently now in some kind of 4000 footer club and I guess that is something to be proud of. I’ve seen some amazing places because of her. Too bad there were no views today and at least the wind was low.
Rachel is my person. She’s the one with all the words of wisdom and the pretty phrases, I'm just the one that makes her smile and greets her every time she comes home. She’s the one that takes care of me and gives me a great place to live (complete with a cat!) and we get to go on these amazing walks. 48 of them got me in a club and I am happy to have shared the trails with others besides Rachel too (both two and 4 legged company). Some I see more than others these days but all were a part of getting me to this my 48th summit, Mt. Isolation. Thanks everyone and I hope that I share the trail with you all again sometime soon.