Today was just a hike of Willey, Tom, and Field… That’s all, just a group of friends (old and new) getting together with their dogs for what we assumed would be a cold and windy hike of these three peaks. Isis and I had no issues getting up and going this morning so, the day was starting off great. We drove up to the Highland Center enjoying the music and not being concerned about anything. We met up with everyone a little after 8 am and got underway. I opted to leave the snowshoes behind as the trail should be well packed from some cold temps that were lingering. Everyone was having a great time getting to know one another having not hiked together for a while or at all. Realizing just what a small world it can be when I find out that this group knows people that I work with on a regular basis makes me smile. Today was going to be a good hike. The dogs (Skipper and Reuben) take-off up the Avalon trail and the humans decide to go that way as well.
I had never done this loop in reverse by going up the Avalon trail and the steepness without the televators of my snowshoes was noted. I was also determined to get up this section and decided that I would convince myself that it would be a great calve work out (which it is). Karen and I separate from everyone and keep a good pace together. Isis also handled the steep trail well and we continued to the summit of Field. The rest of our group would catch up periodically and then separate as we all hiked our own paces. I was happy that I was able to keep up and not feel like I was pushing myself too hard to stay with any one. Karen and myself were joined by the rest of the group on Field to continue on to Willey as we all needed it in one way or another. Plus, it didn’t make a lot of sense to leave it hanging. You might as well get all three while hiking this loop. The snow was pretty good although the sun was warming and it was becoming softer than that hard pack it started out to be.
Heading over to Willey, there were sections that were softer than others and sections that were a little deeper than others. I managed to stay on top even without snowshoes and felt pretty good about things. Everyone was in great spirits as we talked about our lives and things we had experienced. We stopped on the ridge to admire the views of Carrigain and have something to eat. Isis waited patiently while the other two dogs wandered around her and she didn’t make a sound. The group of us continued to move on to the summit and again separated into our own paces. The weather was improving from what started out as a questionable day of high winds to a really beautiful day of blue skies. We stopped at every view that showed itself to us and admired the surrounding peaks. The trails were enjoyable and in great shape for us too. It was just a smooth hike over all for early spring conditions.
On the summit of Willey, we enjoyed no wind and beautiful views of the presidential range as well as other nearby peaks. The blue of the sky and the white of the snow played off one another as we all enjoyed a break. Because the sun was stronger here, the snow was feeling a little more like mashed potatoes as it warmed up in the sun. In trying to get to the high point of Willey, I managed to get myself caught in a spruce trap and laughed at myself as I pulled my trapped leg out of the snow that had swallowed my leg up past my thigh. The group of us got moving after the dogs started barking and “being dogs”. We were on our way to Tom now and this was my favorite section of trail. After passing back over Field, we all enjoyed the even trail and the beautiful weather. The time passed rather quickly and we had run into quite a few people with other dogs as well. One particularly nasty black dog caused me to pick up Isis as well as two German shepherds. Almost at Tom, we met up with Beth’s husband who went to Field and summited Tom while we were on Willey. He joined us on the summit again as we made our way up the spur trail, I realized that this was the second time I did not drop my pack for the ascent.
Again, we had beautiful views as we all stood on the summit and enjoyed the sun. The Grey Jays joined us but did not come down because of the dogs. Isis was beginning to act classically bitchy as she usually does at the end of a hike. We all got moving down the trail and made our way back to the Highland Center. Snow conditions were becoming softer as we went down in elevation. Footing became a little tricky on some of the descending trails. As long as you took your time and made some side steps, you were fine. Rush it and you’d probably end up on your butt. Karen and I were a bit quicker and separated from the rest of the group. We enjoyed the chat on the way down about family and friends. Isis was a little calmer too. The snow pack on the trails was holding however, continuous warm days will bring an end to these conditions very soon and the instability of early spring will be a challenge. Right now though, the conditions are near perfect for warm spring hiking. Layers were beginning to come off and jackets were becoming unzipped. We made it back to the Depot by 330pm to conclude a great day on the trails.
Today was just a hike of Willey, Tom, and Field… Just a hike that I wanted. It was free of concerns and free of anxiety over who Isis was going to get along with and who she was not. She’s not perfect and that is fine with me of course, and I'm not perfect as well and that too is fine with me. Today was just a hike that I shared with friends away from drama and away from life below 4000 feet. Today’s hike, while it counted for rounds and for grids, was just the hike that I was looking for. Next week, the hiking community celebrates a year of accomplishments. Maybe Isis and I will see you there? Don’t be a stranger, say Hi if you see us.