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Carter Dome, Winter Mountain Therapy.

                Mountain therapy was in need for the weekend after having to (for the first time) physically put my hands on one of my students and break up a fight which saw me get shoved into another student, my hair pulled out, and almost bit… My job is tough and I crave the peace of the mountains and still, the day after the fight, I was right back there as if nothing happened. That is how it goes. You have to keep showing up and these kids depend on you to do that. So, I depend on the mountains to bring me back to baseline and provide me some perspective. More changes on the way in the next month and I am both excited and nervous. The main goal remains to complete my winter peaks and after today, there will be only 9 left. Isis and I were off to Carter Dome to finish off that section and hopefully take a break from the Carter’s. On the road by 4:30am and on the trail by 7:30(ish)am.
                What can you say about 19 mile brook trail that has not been said? It’s still well broken out and packed tightly so, while snow shoes may not be needed here, I still wore them. I wore them mostly because I knew that I would need them up top. The wind had been wicked and that meant… Drifts. So, Isis and I settled into our rhythm except, Isis could not hold it and while I tried to just enjoy it, coaxing her to go every 5 steps was wearing on me. I reminded myself that there are far worse things to get upset over in this world. The temps were cold though (below zero) and that was my sense of urgency. For while, I was content to wait, I was growing cold from the sweat I had already worked up. Snow had fallen however, it was not enough to matter on this trail. Isis and I took our first real break at the junction for the carter Dome trail.  

                After snacks for Isis and a drink as well as a bathroom break for myself, we again headed up the Carter Dome trail. This trail remains well broken out and a lot more even than my last trip. It would seem that traffic on the trail had pounded out the damage from the barebooters of last weekend. Isis and I enjoyed the trail and it’s quickness as she was finally moving a lot better. We had not run into a soul on the trail yet and I assumed it was due to temperature and the forecasted winds. The water crossings were still solid and while some of the seeps caused me to pick up Isis, she was for the most part, on her own. We moved through the switchbacks and here was where we actually encountered another couple. They were moving up the trail and over took us rather silently. I let them pass because Isis has an issue with being out in front with strangers behind her. She’s a herding dog so, to give her something to do, I like to keep her back a little. The couple passed us and made the comment that we were probably moving faster and if we wanted to pass, that would be fine. I always dislike this interchange between hikers. Is it really about going fast and getting there? Or is it about looking around and soaking it all in as Isis and I were doing today? While yes, I want to keep moving, I am content with a slow pace. To move fast, I’d just put my head down and go and not see anything that I have seen. So, Isis and I lagged behind on purpose to give space and to enjoy ourselves without being on top of them. At the junction of the Carter Moriah trail, we took another break for soup and a few pieces of cheese.

                Continuing up The Carter Dome trail, Isis and I notice that the snow is getting a little, deeper and we start to see a few post holes here and there. Nothing major, just enough to slow us a little. The wind is picking up as well and Isis is aware of it although she keeps going. We run into a few sections that are ddrifted in and while they are easily broken out by me, Isis hesitates and only moves with my encouragement. The trail is coated in drifting snow and in some cases, it’s about as tall as the trees. The views are great to look across the street at the Presidents. The wind has died down for us to enjoy our summit. We run into the older couple and discover that they read our posted trip reports and wish us luck. Isis and I arrive at the summit in good time and while we had hoped to run into a few other hikers coming over from the Wildcat’s, temps would cause us to keep moving. We had a quick bite to eat and drink and were off again. We stopped at the head of the black angel trail which had not seen any use so, for fun, I broke out about 10 steps. The trail is something I’d like to take in the summer so, I am curious about it. Isis and I continued retracing our steps back to the car. We did not run into a soul on our way down until we got back to the parking lot. This made the journey back very pleasant as I had been wanting a hike for just Isis and I where we can reconnect and strengthen this crazy bond between dog and owner. Today, was perfect for us.
                Heading back to the car, I’m lost in thoughts of the remaining winter peaks and struggling to keep it about hiking and not numbers. I have 9 left and hopefully tomorrow, we will be on Owl’s Head with some friends brining it down to 8. What looms is the Presidentials which has me the most worried. But I cannot control the weather so, whatever will happen will happen as it should. I can accept a weather even to delay my finish. I will not accept sleeping late and being lazy. Every available weekend day will be used for hiking which will also serve to get me out of my home along with Isis. The energy is changing there and once the time passes, things will be better. I’d rather be out on the trails than in that darkness any day and Isis will be right by my side. I try to focus on the hikes and not on chasing peaks too. I’m not interested in chasing after anything these days so, the focus remains on me and what I can do on my own. Whatever is going to happen and whoever is going to be in my life will find a way to be there. I’ll be hiking through it all. Isis and I make it back to the car with some strong steps and we bid farewell to the Carter’s. Even though I need the other 2 peaks for March, I have more important things to try and wrap up. I was thankful for the day and all that it had to offer me.

                Isis and I are bound for home for a repack and to do it all over again in the morning.   

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