I’m a natural born worrier and lately, that has gotten way out of hand. I also work in a job that is very high stress and the one thing I can say is that this week, the stress and the worry was really affecting my world outside of work. It was even affecting Isis which is something that I cannot have. So, pretty early in the week, I saw that the weather was shaping up to be perfect for a Sunday in the Presidential Range and I had the chance to finally cross off Eisenhower and Monroe from my list. I was excited as Isis and I would go up Edmund’s Path and then over the Crawford Path to Monroe. Then came the dangling carrot and it was tempting to change my plan to hike with someone. If it were not for my Pemi Backpack and the fact that I was working OT for the original day, I may have just grabbed that carrot. Which also as it turns out, the carrot was yanked away anyway… Isis and I would be solo.
At 3:30a, the alarm started going off. At 4am, I got out of bed. Isis and I were on our way by 4:30a. We were on time for once and the day was shaping up to be a good one. I was in a better frame of mind than the night before and I was focused on the summits. Although I always have a plan to par down my hikes and just do one over two summits. I promised myself to evaluate at Ike (our first stop). We arrived at the Edmund’s Path trail head a little before 7:30a and got under way. I was excited because the first time I walked this path, it was in the clouds and this time, it promised to be full on views. Isis and I enjoyed the cooler temps and lack of bugs. She filled up on water and grass all the way up the path. Edmund’s is in great shape and has such an easy grade to it that I am lost in the trail and in my surroundings. Isis and I adopted a lazy “we’ll see what happens” pace and enjoyed our time.
We were passed by a few people on the way and that was fine with me. I truly wanted to enjoy the silence of the woods and then the joy of breaking out and above tree line. We began climbing over rocks and some standing water (a constant from the beginning) and my pace slowed a little more. I started thinking that maybe just Ike would do and if possible, we’d just hang out at that summit rather than traveling. A day in the sun on Ike to sit and relax seemed like a great plan for me. I even expressed this to an older couple who had traveled to the water fall and turned around. Turns out the husband was a therapist and we chatted about his wife’s fear of heights and some good old emersion therapy. We had a good laugh of it and it reminded me of where I came from. As we parted, we began to break out of tree line and I was excited again. The sun was shining and I could see clear down to the Mt. Washington Hotel.
Isis and I made a stop at the waterfall which still had ice on it and then traveled up to the bad weather warning. Last time I saw this sign, it started snowing. Not today. Today was beautiful. We made our way over the talus and I was struck by the views. We were getting close to the junction to go to the summit and I could feel Isis pulling me that way. The trail above tree line was in great shape and view just kept growing for me. All the while up to the summit, I was remembering the snow storm that caught me last time. Such a joy today as we reached the summit and made another hiker smile since no one really expects my little dog to greet them and I always like the love everyone shows her. We snapped some pictures and had some food. Isis had a good rest and then since it was not even 11am, we headed off to Monroe.
As always, I am concerned about time for a Sunday. I actually set my alarm for my turn back time (2pm) and put my phone back in my pack. I have been trying to leave the phone and social media behind on my hikes and eventually this will carry over to sea level too. Isis and I traveled down the Crawford path which was mostly dry and ran into two AT’ers that were on their way to Katahdin but first they were playing around on the Presidentials today. They were two retired firefighters from Wisconsin and I spent a good amount of time talking with them about my different experiences and what I had coming up. We would leap frog each other until I decided to bypass Franklin and go around the back side of Monroe to ascend from the hut side of the Crawford Path.
Heading to the summit, it was an easy walk and Isis and I leap frogged with two other hikers. An older hiker I had chatted with about trail erosion was already at the summit when we were still coming up. Once we got there though, it was a little disappointing. It was crowded as though we were on Monadnock. There was a loud group of foreigners who were blasting a radio and I was picking up cigarette butts. So so very disappointed and even chose to go down the trail to eat after snapping a quick picture. The loud group was not hikers. Monroe had officially become another tourist peak. Iw as not going to let this destroy my day and then as we were ascending the other side (towards Franklin), a hiking family approached and were also blasting music and I could only assume they were doing this up the trail. What is this new trend of destroying the wilderness with sound and subjecting other hikers to music they may not like? Very disappointing but it will just make me choose peaks wisely. We had hit Monroe but 12:30pm and began our descend of the Presidential range feeling very proud.
At 2pm, we had made it back to the Edmund’s Path and we made great time with a quick stop to turn off my alarm and we were on our way down. Back over the talus and back into the trees. I was not happy to be heading back down and probably could have stayed up there all day and yet, I knew that responsibility needed to be taken care of. Isis was starting to struggle a little. It was a hot day and it was our first hot day and she was a little tired. I did carry her for a little while as I was concerned for her. Once we got into the shade, she seemed to do much better. We stopped to take some big drinks from any running water we could find and she continued to perk up as we traveled down the path. Back into the grassy lower trail and Isis filled up on the green blades. Traveling back over the last 3 bridges, we arrived back at the car by a little before 4pm. Probably not a PBR but a good time for a hike such as this (8.5 hours give or take) and two more checked off for round 3 and other various lists.
For all the worry and all the plans that seemed to fluctuate even before I got on trail, I had a very mindful hike and now realize that the worry is unfounded. No matter what, I always find a way to make things happen for myself (in a positive way) and my Pemi Backpack, while difficult will be an amazing experience (rain or shine). I just need to let everything happen and not act impulsive so that I miss an opportunity. I have learned that at my age, I don’t have to grab at the carrots. Those that want to hike will be there and will plan with me. Nor do I have to chase or be chased. Games do not need to be played. I am truly happy to hike with Isis and meet everyone on the trails so, I am never truly solo. Finally, I learned that an amazing day above tree line is a great way to refocus my anxiety and depression. I’m ready again… Let’s go.