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Galehead... Isis get 100!

                Isis and I were celebrating this weekend. She was turning two and getting ready to set her paws on her 100th overall summit (with 3 being below 4k in elevation). I had planned on Galehead and the Twins for a number of reasons. The least of which were grid needs and rounds. The most of which was it’s a great hike and Isis and I have not soloed on these three yet. But of course, I needed North Twin with played into later decisions. So, Isis had a birthday full of treats and presents yesterday and then a promised hike today… What can I say, she’s my child (since I won’t be having my own) and I never break a promise to anyone (animal or human). I had intended to get up early to allow for time to do the hike except working OT is exhausting at my job and I hit snooze. We were on our way at 5am and would start the hike around 7:30am.
                Why is it so hard to find the trail from Gale River trail parking area??? I went to one “entrance” and then another before I found it at almost the head of the parking area. I guess I have not been here for a while as I have hit this section a lot in longer hikes coming from other trailheads. It’s busy with hut traffic but there is parking. Heading down the Gale River Trail, it’s pretty easy to travel and is in great shape. There is mud to travel through which is really not a big issue. It’s just there. The water crossings are low and easy but of course, Isis doesn’t want to do them. So, I assist her across. We are having a great time with very little defiance from the little two year old. I am surprised when we come to some deep mud and she walks right through it…. Instant knee socks for her. I was remembering that the last time I was here, there was snow and ice and of course, the trail looks very different now. So, as we walk, I am noticing how easy the grade is and also how many rocks and roots trip me up. The water crossings we encounter are a non-issue (unless you count the 2 year old refusal to cross). Also noted is the incredible lack of people out for a beautiful Sunday… A bonus in my mind as I smile.

                Isis and I hit the elevation gain and began to slow a little not before she finds something interesting to dig for and roll in... My white dog is black and what's worse, I cannot bathe her as it destroys her coat. And here I had worries that she would begin her habit of laying down and refusing to budge (The Shiba breed are stubborn button pushers and you have to show them you are the HBIC in the house). To my luck, she was in the mood to hike. I guess her break to help her dermatitis helped her out. As we were going up the rocks, the traffic from the hut was coming down. An interesting mix of folks including one spirited 4 year old (Ausrick as he corrected me from calling him Isaac) and the consummate group of pre and post pubescent boys with two tired adults bringing up the rear. Everyone was in such great spirits that it had no effect on me and the hike was very pleasant. The weather was perfect and my spirit was high today. I was trying to decide if I wold go to the twins or to Galehead first? My logic being that I needed North Twin and did not want to get into a situation where I would have to leave it hanging (again), Isis didn’t really care which was her 100th summit really, the trail to Galehead was an easy one, and the trail up South Twin was guaranteed to add time to my hike. The latter of course increasing the risk of me leaving North twin to hang if I needed to turn back. So, ultimately, I would decide at the hut.
                Continuing on our way, we ran into Isis’ fraternal twin of 7(?) years, Dasher. Except is also a Korean breed and not a Shiba. Just the same colors and tail style and about the size of our friend Cole.  Final push to the hut over some bigger rocks and slabs over the Garfield Ridge Trail and here we are, Galehead Hut. There are very few people milling about and it’s again a surprise considering it’s around 11am and such a nice day out. Isis and I settle down on the porch and rest. I am taken by the stillness of the area and the almost silence (except for the hut staff cleaning). It’s heaven for someone like me who cannot shut out noise on a regular basis. I’m looking at the Twins and Galehead and I’m comparing my map. Adding up time in my head and trying to think of best and worst cases for my hiking pace. Adding in to it a healthy dose of, ‘I have to work in the morning and I cannot call out because it’s not exactly allowed and I am HBIC tomorrow so, people are depending on me’. OK, Galehead it is to play it safe. I really didn’t want to leave North twin hanging… Again as well. Dasher and her traveling companions are coming down from Galehead as I am heading out. Isis barks just a little but is OK. Dasher escapes without getting his face eaten. Isis for her little stature has a reputation… Just like her mother.

                We are off down the Frost trail to the spur for Galehead. This trail is also in great shape and easy to travel. We hit the spur and start to head up. The climb is not as bad as it was in the past. Maybe it was the company? Maybe it was the lack of snow and ice? Maybe in was both? I have had very few good experiences on this mountain and I was hopeful for today. Isis and I hit the outlook and took some photos. I love looking down on the hut and I remembered a certain date gone wrong that started to go south in this very spot. I chuckled at the memory. It’s funny how memories come back to me on the trails. Most are happy. Isis and I make our ascent of the summit and she is not too agreeable to climbing the small cairn. Nor is she agreeable to sitting still. Classic Isis. But I do get one picture of her on her 100th summit. I promise her snacks at the hut again. I am suddenly taken by the fact that she has done so much in really less than two years. I guess I really have been hiking a lot. It’s just better than sitting at home. Not that there are not a million and one projects at home either. I’d just rather hike because out there it does not seem like I am doing everything alone and trying to constantly keep my head above water. This day marks and anniversary of sorts for me. I've been single and managing a house on my own now for an entire year. happy to be this way really. It's going to take a really special guy to make me say those three words again and not be afraid he'll walk away with out an explanation. I have a great relationship with my dog and the mountains I love. Out there on the trails, it does not matter. Everything can wait.

                Isis is a funny little girl, we head down and she gets a little squirmy and grouchy on me. So, we struggle a little. She needs to stop back at the outlook and would not budge until I went down there. We made our way down and ran into a Pemi Looper who would later come back to us before we even got off the elevation. I admired his quickness and also appreciated my slowness. I don’t’ want to be a fast hiker. I am good with today just being Galehead. Sometimes you just need a hike and not a mission. Today was a hike… It was great. Isis and I hung out back at the hut before heading down. We were ousted from our seats on the porch by a mini high school reunion practically happening in my lap. No, not my high school but two hikers who happen to go to high school and lose touch. Amazing who you run into up here. I felt like I was in the way so I moved. They were oblivious to almost stepping on my dog anyway… So, I talked to a few other hikers and then decided that I needed to head back to the car. Responsibility to keep my head above water overruled coming home late and getting the Twins.
                Isis and I headed back the way we came despite a protest that the start of the Twin Way to the South Twin Summit. We navigated the rocks well but I think that the heat was getting to Isis’ remaining dermatitis. We kept moving as best we could. Going down, while easier had gotten a little tricky as of late with the new glasses (Bifocals) and I was still tripping a little. I was however pleased with the hike over all. The easily navigated trails helped make this a great day. Isis and I were not fighting with each other’s stubborn attitudes and getting back into things well after her break. To my surprise, she does the water crossings on the return where I had to carry her up in the beginning. Classic Isis again. We run into a few more people coming up. All with serious looks on their faces that makes me wonder if I should utter a peep at them. I choose silence. It’s better that way. I want this to end on a great note. After all, my little dog just hit 100 and that to me is amazing! She is a love/hate dog which has us on a bit of a solo hiking tear. I’m happy for this time as it further allows us to know one another and for her to know that I am in charge. I’ve made my share of mistakes with her but we are on the mend and she has forgiven me for the most part. It has taken almost a year to establish a routine with her and we are finally settled into something that we can both work with and that includes hiking on the weekends. I don’t foresee me hiking without her again soon.

                We arrive back at the parking lot and all is well. We load into the car and I get changed. No one is around so, standing in the parking lot is fine with me. Isis and I are bound for home and for coffee as always. No more munchkin’s for her though as she is now grain free to help her skin and coat heal. I am pleased with today and happy to look forward to the next hike to keep chipping away at 576.                  

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