What a luxury to sleep in until 5:30am on a hiking day and then to leisurely get ready to head up north. I was on the road with Isis by a little after 6am and not the least bit concerned that I was going to be late for anything. I had once again pushed aside the higher summits for lower ones because of the weather. Today, we were going back to Tecumseh as a quick and most necessary hike. Not even the lack of views and weather was going to keep me off the trails. I had the gear to keep myself dry and I was intent on using it today. I left the snow shoes at home though as I just didn’t want to carry the weight. I was confident that I would be OK without them. Then again, I had no one to answer to so, I was fine with my decision. The ride up to Waterville Valley was filled with my favorite songs and a smile finally came across my face somewhere around Hillsborough.
The rain increased as we got closer to the ski resort. I was not fazed in the least and I was ready for it. Thankfully, it subsided as we parked and got ready for the day. There were two other cars in the lot with me. I put on my winter boots as I assumed that up high would still be winter. I had my spring pants and long johns on as well as my spring shell, vest, and turtleneck. I knew that I would generate some heat heading to the summit. After locating my camera, Isis and I got under way and I immediately thought that my winter boots were over kill down low and dreamed of wearing my Asolos again soon. Isis balked at the first water crossing that was wide open. I tried to get her to cross it on her own but she would have nothing of it. So, I picked her up and we were on our way. The rocks and roots were back down low as well as the mud. About a mile in, I stripped off my spring shell and vented my pants, suddenly aware that I had too many layers today. I also took the opportunity to put my pack cover on as the spring melt was soaking everything.
Isis and I repeated the same process at the next two water crossings and prior to the third one, I slipped on my Hillsounds for traction. The snow was beginning to accumulate again and even though the monorail was stable, I still needed some stabilization. At the outlook for the ski area, Isis and I were rushed by two dogs and their owners were nowhere to be seen. Grabbing Isis, I shouted for the absent minded owners to control their dogs and left it at that. I wanted a peaceful hike and I was not up for lecturing dog owners for lack of control. There are reasons I keep Isis on a leash and I am OK with those reasons. Their disapproval was not going to change how I handle my dog. We waited and then begain our ascent of the steep Mt. Tecumseh trail. The snow depth was enough to make it look like winter again and the monorail continued to be stable although in a few short sections it was deteriorated but the majority is stable.
Isis and I were enjoying a day on the trials again and there seemed to be very few people around this early in the morning. I probably could have gotten up even later as this is usually such a short climb. I spotted another dog coming down with her owner and proceeded to pick up Isis. She’s just not good with other dogs and I am tired of fighting her on it. Tom was the owner of the other dog and he stopped me to tell me that this was his first 4K and that it was icy up top. He then proceeded to tell me that his wife had passed in June and he was finally starting over and starting his journey for the 4K footers. He figured he’d do them in about 2 years and that he was excited for it now that he was on his way down from his first one. I welcomed him to the journey and offered condolences for his wife. I gave him a few tips and felt my heart leap in only a way that a shared connection could. He was embarking on a journey that was sure to lead him out of his grief and back to himself. I almost started crying again (I had been doing this for days) as he told me about his wife and how he proposed to her on Monadnock and how much he was looking forward to this new journey. Meeting him on the trails seemed like such a natural thing were it not for feeling the same way (a little lost, a little lonely, and a little disillusioned). It was as if again a message was given to me. We are all on a journey whether we acknowledge it or not and for me, this length of the journey is with Isis. I much like Tom, am trying to find myself again. Having hit rock bottom for I lost track of how many times again, and feeling much like the dog that gets left by her owner and watches as he drives away (or what I perceive it to feel like), I now climb to feel at peace with myself in a world that makes no sense to me. I climb to push myself and to meet people. I was happy for meeting Tom even though we may never run into one another again. I felt that given my latest state of mind, this was needed and I was glad to be solo for it.
Isis and I continued up the steep trail and finally crested onto the ridge. As we approached the turn for the summit, we were met by the two dogs from down below and once again their owners were nowhere near. I said nothing as we passed and just kept going. Isis and I navigated the rocks and ice that Tom had warned us about and then crested the summit. There was no view and there was also no wind so, I dropped my pack and got something to eat. Isis had some cheese and we snapped some pictures. Deciding to sit for a while, I let Isis roam the summit as we were the only ones up here. She didn’t go far and in fact sat on the rock in front of me and gazed out at the nothing and the clouds. While the temps were above freezing, it was still cold and Isis was getting restless. We packed up and began to make our way back to the car. Heading down, we took the steep sections slow and I tried to stay upright because the snow was not good for sledding any more. On the steep section, we allowed the MIT outing club to pass a few stragglers stopped to chat and pat Isis. One girl was without a pack and wearing a cotton t-shirt he arms were crossed as she proclaimed that she was warm enough and had layers. I wished them a good and safe hike.
Heading back towards the bottom, the snow was more like mushy rice than mashed potatoes and Isis and I continued to wind our way back to the car. The first water crossing was again balked at by Isis and I carried her. We soon ran out of snow and my spikes and layers came off and I vented my pants too. I was already making plans for next week layer wise and just needed to see the weather to see where I would kick off May. I watched as Isis rock hopped through the mud sections and laughed at her for not doing it on the water crossings. The second one , she also balked at. The rain was falling lightly and it felt good against me. It was not pouring but it was a heavy sprinkle. We approached the last water crossing and someone was just starting out. We let her come across and then gave her an over view of our experience. She had all the right gear although I told her that she may not need the snow shoes unless she wanted televators. She thanked me for the advice and we laughed at eh early spring conditions. Although, it has gone on later this year, at least eh melt is slow and steady.
Isis and I crossed the last crossing and to my surprise, she managed the last one on her own. We got back to the car and she climbed in the back seat and lay down. I changed in the front seat, careful of anyone that might be coming off the trail. We were on our way home not long after and I was feeling better. Today was supposed to be a hike with someone else. Someone new, but I called it off last night in favor of a solo hike. I am very glad for this as I know that I am nowhere near ready to share the trails with anyone except Isis right now (I am cookie dough). It’s going to take a while for all the broken pieces to be put back together again and for me to know who I am so that I can put my trust in someone else again. As I am rebuilding and healing, I am continuing to count peaks and miles for rounds and seasons. I’ll get my 576 but along the way, I will be forever grateful for meeting people like Tom who are sharing incredible stories of hope. having long been accused of not being aware on the trails, I can honestly say that it's about the people for me as much as it is about the trails. We are all on a journey. Some of us are just more aware than others. Embrace it and enjoy it and respect everyone else’s journey as their own too.