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Hancock's Boost Me to 200!

(My 200th summit! South Hancock)

          I hate anxiety. I'd rather deal with my depression than my anxiety... Anxiety sucks. I never really know if I am doing the right thing until it's too late or not. What if I fall.... But oh, what if I fly??? Planning for one thing while keeping another thing planning in the background. Wanting one peak while having to go for another and not even knowing if it will pan out because of the weather that you cannot predict. If you heard a scream on the trail this morning, it was just me... Letting go of a bunch of yuck! Today, it was the Hancock's instead of Monroe... Stupid weather. And then again, I boosted my grid, added to a total to bring myself over 200 peaks AND Isis is finally half way to her winter list. All this added up to a great day out there... Even if the weather was less than spectacular. 

        Isis and I started out at 7:20am from the hairpin turn on the Kanc. Heading down the Hancock Notch trail is flat and well packed. I'm carrying my shoes and wearing my spikes. This was not a hike for views. This was a put your head down and go hike. This was a forget everything for a few hours and sweat it out hike. This was an enjoy the place you love the most hike. Isis and I made quick work to the junction of Cedar Brook because all but one of the water crossings were bridged and the one that wasn't was a non-issue anyway. Here, Isis had something to eat (new treats made with bacon, apples, and bison) and I put my shoes on to prep for the steep ups we had to face. 

        The trail remains very well packed out and it's not long at all to the junction of the Hancock loop trail (about 24 minutes). The rain or the snow has not started yet and I am not worried about time at all. This has always been a quick hike for me and I was confident that I would not get too wet today. Isis and I have yet to run into a single soul since seeing two gentlemen start out ahead of us at the trail head. I'm thinking of going North to South today but really, I'll decide once I get to that point on the trail. Isis is having a great day diving into the softer sides of the trail and trying to root out any rodents she can. It's about 45 minutes to decision time for me and I again go South to North. It really makes no difference to me since I know what ever side I go up will only mean I will slide down the other. So, North it is for the sliding. As Isis and I climb, it's warn smooth from other sledders and I am again so thankful for my new shoes with the excellent traction. These shoes really grab in and hold on and the televators are a BIG help today. There are places that are a little flat so I can rest and catch my breath for a little while but I am careful as Isis has been playing all the way up and if she were to reverse directions, I'd go sliding down regardless of traction. So, breaks are quick and as we climb into the cloud, the snow comes. It's a small snow and not the big fluffy flakes from ground level. It stings the face as we crest the summit... 46 minutes after we started. and I thrust my arms up and yell... 200! This was my 200th 4K peak (it includes the 19 for the NE67) and that is something that I never knew I would see. It's been almost 4 years since I started and that says a lot. I've never stuck with anything in my life this long. Maybe the tide is changing? Maybe I'm finally settling down in my heart. Older, wiser, and a little more greyed than whenI started and still going strong in spite of anxiety and depression. Here is where I don't worry about anything. Here is home.

       Isis and I take pictures (and a few awkward selfies) and we head off down the ridge. Things are a little blown in and a little deeper up here and Isis handles it like a champ. The wind has picked up and I continue to feel the sting on my face. It's not terribly cold... Chilly but my hat and gloves do the job just fine. It's a great day on the ridge as we make our way over to North Hancock. It's 1.4 miles of relatively flat with a few ups. Not bad after what we just did. Isis and I run into those 2 gentlemen about a quarter of the way to North Peak and it's a quick passing. Too much wind to stop. The trail has some deeper drifts in places but they don't seem to slow us down too much. 52 minutes between the two peaks and Isis and I are standing on North peak. The wind is howling and the pictures are quick. We walked down to the outlook to see nothing...

               Isis and I begin our descent of the peaks and begin running into others that are coming up the North Side. Nice to see Alison close to the top and great to celebrate our victories with her briefly. It's hard to stop in winter on this steep trail and there is not a lot of room for people to pass let alone stop and chat. It's a confidence booster though when I hear congrats from people who may not necessarily be close in my life but remember me on the trails. It was shortly after this that I landed on my ass and began sliding down the North Side of the Hancock loop trail very fast... It took a while for me to find my pace as I used my shoes, pole, hands, thumbs, any thing I could to slow myself down. I'm convinced that this is how my time got to be so good. I generally try to stay upright but the momentum of Isis and the slope of the trails sometimes makes it unavoidable. Coming to rest a few times and walking little before landing on my ass again. We also ran into a rather large group of young adults and one genius with his shirt off. All I said was "Dude, put a dam shirt on. It's gonna get cold". With that, I am suddenly at a flatter section and heading back towards the junction to break off and go to either peak. My head is down and we are just walking. Trying to beat out the rain that is on the way and wondering how the ride home will be. In no time again, we make it to the junction for Cedar Brook and soon back on Hancock Notch. In-between we ran into Mike and Monica on our way over the water crossing. They too were trying to beat the rain that was lightly falling already.  Isis and I cruise down the Hancock Notch trail and out to the road to a steady rain that soaks us from that time until we reach the car. A very successful day capped off after changing to dry cloths with an extra large and extra hot coffee. The ride home is long with the ice on the road but the funny thing is, I'm not anxious. I'm in fact having a good ride. It's just long and slow. Very pleased with today.

        Today I stepped off my main focus and went with a boost to my grid and helped Isis get to her halfway point. I was able to forget if only for a little while responsibility and anxiety around life at sea level. It's always nice to go home even if that home is not the one with the roof over your head. My fingers are crossed for a return to my winter peaks with Monroe next weekend and while things may get hectic soon, I know I can come to the peaks for peace. See you out there!

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