(If ever there was a picture that could define a year, it's this one from Mt. Adam's over the summer.)
No one can really predict how a year is going to progress. I had started 2014 with a clear plan, to simply be better than I was the previous year. I wanted to do trips that would stretch my comfort zone and test myself. I wanted to continue working on my Grid but not letting it be the sole focus of my hiking. I wanted to do my Grid in such a way that I was not confined by rounds of the 48 (to date, I have pieces of my 4th through my 7th rounds completed and 2 left for my 3rd round). For those that are new to the story, I am working on what is called THE GRID or climbing the 48 four thousand foot or higher peaks in New Hampshire and climbing them in each month of the calendar year (48x12 or 576 total summits). A hiker has as much time as they need to do this should they choose to undertake it and while some finish it rather quickly, I am taking a slower journey. Most importantly for myself, I wanted to experience the mountains with my dog Isis and I wanted to remember the trips and the seasons as they passed. Because of this, it was hard to find ten treks that I could highlight for the year. I started on January 1st by hiking up Mt. Moriah (4049Ft).
As winter was coming to a close, it was becoming obvious that I was not going to meet my Winter 48 goal except, I was not going to give up without an honest fight at it. I did manage to get one of the toughest peaks on my list. This one, is one that I have yet to solo on and as I write this, it is the only one left that I need for a complete solo round (meaning I am not hiking with an organized group). Today, I was hiking with old friends and new. I was excited and nervous for the whole experience. Knowing that Isis has her own distinct style, I did my best to convince myself that this would be a great day and in many ways, it was. A trip to The Owl (4025 Ft) was on tap for the day and the company would be old friends Heather and Kali along with Gumby Hiker (who I had not seen in over 6 months since breaking off from his brother) and Dan. A 17 mile trip for no view and all the glory of just having made it for me was a great challenge and I can honestly say that I love this peak for the work it makes me do. I can put my head down and go and keep going. The bushwhacks are a challenge and I was up for it. All in all, this was an eye opening trip for me and it also marked my last hike with a group for a long time. The remainder of my trips (with the exception of my last trip in 2014) would be solo.
Not being able to let go of The Pemi Loop, I set out to try again at the end of July except this time, I was going to try it in a day and I was leaving Isis at home. Hikes without her do not happen very often but I became cautious with her after Mount Adam's. I set out really early in the morning and hit the trail around 3am. Hiking in the dark solo was a new experience for me and I had trouble finding landmarks. I figured that I would hit Flume (4328 Ft) around sunrise and I was excited for that. Another goal was to catch a sunrise on a peak. My pace quickened on the ladders of the Osseo trail as the sun was creeping up. Making my way over the trail to the final push by the Flume Slide, I crested just as the sun was peaking out and I managed some pictures. I knew that I wanted to make it over to Liberty for breakfast and that was a little over a mile away. So, as I made my way to Liberty, I also began calculating my time for The Pemi. I was way off and would probably be out for at least a day or two at this point so, I began having those serious thoughts. I climbed up to Liberty and set up breakfast. It was this morning that I had these summits to myself and the hazelnut coffee at 4459 Ft tasted so good and the smell filled my nose as a new experience regaining my sense of smell. I tried my best to keep going and tried to convince myself to beat the odds and hike through the dark on the Pemi but entering Franconia Ridge by Little Haystack, I felt the rain sting my face and I turned back. I'm just not going to attempt a Pemi in the rain and I may never be a Pemi hiker. I was suddenly OK with who I was. A slow and steady hiker who had these great experiences on the trail. I had a story to tell after all and it was how the mountains shape my life. So, once again, I found myself heading back to the car after Chasing the sunrise .