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2PM or Bond Cliff??

                Let me step back to last Sunday for a moment. I had original plans to hike something however, at 2am, I woke up to a fever of 103 that seemed to wipe me out. I was determined to get out the next weekend (this weekend). The weather was bluebird for the Bonds and even though my energy was depleted and my lungs were still emptying of fluid, I was determined. Working six days a week posed an interesting challenge as I seemed to do nothing but work and sleep leading up to today. I’m not making excuses but this week was hard and perhaps I should have shot lower in my recovery? Sunday the alarm started going off at 4am and typically, I get up at 4:30am for work. Not much of a chance to sleep in when you hike on your day off. Except, I don’t get up until 5am putting me later than I probably should be for such a hike.
                Arriving at Lincoln Woods, there are a handful of cars in the parking lot but no hikers to be found. Was everyone on the trails already? Isis and I slip onto the Lincoln Woods trail and begin to make our way to the Bond Cliff trail which, as we all know is a heck of a walk either way. I’m feeling sluggish and my coughing is not helping yet, I push through. The Pemi is high and I am thinking of water crossings. If they are high, we’ll turn back. It takes a very uneventful hour and a half to reach the Bond Cliff trail. Isis and I take a break and then we make the turn into the woods.

                Moving down the trail is not that bad. I’m in short sleeves and wearing my Asolos over my winter boots. It’s warm and even though I’m tired, I keep pushing. Isis is having fun so, we keep moving. The lower trail was either dry and full of leaves or wet and muddy. At one point, I saw Isis step in up to her belly and I of course laugh prior to rescuing her. She recovers and we come to the first of 3 major water crossings. It’s higher than I would like but I can see a clear route and even though my foot goes in, it’s not wet. We sail across and I’m thinking that the day is looking up.

                Continuing, on at the second major crossing, the water is a little higher and while my boot goes in again, only the ankle is wet so, I shake it off. The trail is getting muddier and Isis is being more selective with moving forward. She’s wearing mud pants at this point too and I laugh because people don’t believe that my dog gets dirty. She’s filthy now and looking less than thrilled. The elevation gain begins to kick in and my coughing increases. The trail suddenly fills in with water as if we missed the trail and were walking up stream. As it turns out, the last major water crossing in the lower section has rerouted itself down  the trail and is flowing nicely so there is no room to walk without getting wet or cut up from bushes. We barely making it over the last major water crossing, for the water level and paused to think but keep going. We soon run into a hiker who had stayed at Guyot Shelter and struggled with the snow depth. I knew I was in trouble here because my usual sense of humor was missing and I was at a loss for words concerning the sport I love. We parted ways and Isis and I continued on.

                Intermittent dry and wet trail met us and then the ice began at 2200 feet. It steadily increased  and I put my spikes on at 3090 feet. There is a dip in the trail that we all know well and usually it is dry. NOT today. It’s flowing nicely and I’m not happy. ON the other side is more snow that I’d like to see and it’s a sloppy mess. We cross and begin a big push to at least get Bond Cliff. My cut off remains at 2pm however, as we walk, the monorail is not holding beneath either of us and under it is slush and water. I’m crashing in up to my knees and Isis is struggling too. She pushes forward though and I’m near my stress level. We take several breaks (after several falls) and seem to cross a few extra water crossings. I have never seen this much water on the upper Bond Cliff trail. Isis keeps pushing forward as if she knows that she can make it. I’m having my doubts and trying to listen to my body. I’m tired and I know that we have a hell of a trip back. It’s 1pm and on a typical trip like this for me, I am usually on my way back from West Bond. I’m no longer sold on the idea of summiting. My system is still way off and I want to turn back. At 3600 Feet, I want to go home, knowing that it will be a full week before I get back to the mountains. It takes a lot of convincing to turn Isis back too and I end up getting forceful with her stubborn side.

                It’s a rough trip down as we crash through the monorail and continue down to the water crossings. I fall several times and end up banging up my left knee pretty well. My voice is hoarse and I’m getting tired even though I am drinking all the water in my bladder and eating as much as I can with my missing appetite. I know on these hikes I need to eat though and I am forcing myself. Autopilot is set in-between water crossings and I am trying to enjoy the trip out. Even though this would have been my 5th trip to the Bonds, it feels like my first. But then again, my first trip had seemed a heck of a lot better than this one too.

                Back on the lower sections, the trip seemed to take forever; we got back to the Wilderness Boundary by 3:30pm. I did some quick calculations and realized that I would have run out of day light had I kept going. While it would have been on the straight and flat Lincoln Woods trail, I could not have accounted for how I would have felt physically had I tried to make it to Bond Cliff. The whole trip out of Lincoln woods takes me an hour and a half and I was happy to see the car. Isis gets loaded in and given water. The food is moved out of the pack and I change in the parking lot. There is an incredible lack of people at Lincoln Woods for a beautiful day and I imagine that people hiked yesterday and are spending Mother’s Day elsewhere. There are a few tourists but I am not concerned for them. Isis and I head home to rethink future trips and hoping for the best.             

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