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Happy New Year on Mount Pierce.

         Happy New Year! It's 2015 and what an amazing start it has been. After wrapping up 2014 on Owl's Head, I returned to solo status and began tackling "The Winter 6". After working late on New Years Eve, I skipped the ball drop (The same thing happens EVERY year!) and went to bed at 9:30 to wake at 4am. Everything was set before I went into work so, getting on the road was effortless. Except I forgot my wallet... Back into the house I went. I need my Dunkin Doughnuts card after all! Isis and I were off and feeling very positive about well, EVERYTHING. Now, the "Winter 6" are the last 6 peaks for my winter 48 list and they are kind of a big deal: Pierce, Eisenhower (Ike), Monroe, Jefferson, Adams, and West Bond. Today, I wanted to get Pierce at the least and Ike and Monroe to go with Pierce at the most. Temp would dictate what I actually got. We were in the parking lot of the Highland Center around 7:30am. A quick change and putting the new Tubbs VRT snowshoes (22" in purple no doubt) on the pack, and Isis and I were off across the road to the Crawford path.

       Everything is frozen and while I was bare booting, the Hillsound's quickly came on. Crawford Path is known to be wet in other seasons and that means it's ice in the winter. Especially since we had a lot of rain recently instead of snow. Feeling confident, we continued up the trail. Stopping first at the connector bridge for the parking area on Mt. Clinton Road, everything was frozen there. Then heading up the trail to see the dam also frozen and of course making a stop at Gibb's Falls. They were also frozen. Temps were destine to be below zero today and that's just putting it mildly. The good thing is that by keeping moving and having enough layers, you're fine for a certain amount of time out there. I'm watching Isis to make sure that she's OK too. We made great time up to the junction for the Mizpah Cut Off and took a food break there. Isis had her usual mix of biscuits, chicken/blueberry sticks, Cheese, and something new, Salmon bits provided by my sister in-law. She loved them and finished well before I was ready. Here I decided that it would be a good idea to put on my balaclava and heavier hat. It was getting colder as we climbed and even though I saw blue skies, I wondered about temps. As Isis and I continued, some of the ice flows had water still flowing freely and under ice. For the first time, I saw Isis totally stop in her tracks and try to follow the air bubbles at they passed in the flowing water. She was totally trying to catch them! Quickly realizing the layer of ice was unforgiving, she moved on.

             The Crawford Path up higher (and really the whole thing), was like a super highway. I was able to move pretty fast and that was when I noticed something, I hardly noticed the weight of my new snowshoes. Usually, when I add those to my pack (the old ones), I am very aware of the weight and how it shifts the pack. These new Tubbs are hardly noticeable and I love them (did I mention they are purple?). I also became aware of one other thought. I was not so much focused on the year that passed. I looked down at Isis and I said, "Where are we going this year?". I was no longer concerned with reliving the past. It was time to keep moving forward. Time to keep progressing and time to stop living in a time that while I don't need to forget, I need to leave it behind. The adventurous spirit I had lost was back and I was feeling strong. Time to explore this new world I was embracing and it all starts with Pierce. The light on the trail was nice and provided some warmth. It was really noticeable when we entered some of the more shaded areas though. I had taken my iPhone out to do a quick elevation check and the battery life was immediately sucked out and it shut down. Well, that showed me how cold it was. Isis and I pressed on happily and caught our first glimpse of Ike and the other presidentials. They were beautiful and you could also tell the clouds were on the move which meant the winds were higher and the wind chill was much lower. All things to take into consideration. 

       Isis and I stopped for a quick picture using my timer on the outlook just below the true summit and then continued up the quick incline to the summit cairn. Two grey jay's where up there looking for a hand out or maybe they were frozen to the branches? Naw, they were flying around but it was too cold to pay them too much mind. No food was coming out this morning. Isis and I snapped a few pictures and I quickly debated going on to Ike. Which was more like I looked over to Ike and said that I'd be back for it on Saturday before the storm blows in. Temps were suppose to be higher and today, I didn't really feel like having a frozen walk over on the ridge. The sun was strong but the wind was stronger. Isis was also lifting her paws up and I contemplated booties for her again. Maybe we'll just have to give them a try and hope for the best. She's pretty warm other wise with her double coat and in below zero, she get's her purple coat too. We made our way back down the Crawford Path, which would warm up as we traveled. 

           Back below the alpine zone, Isis and I ran into Lilley and her owner. Lilley was so excited for winter hiking, she looked as though she would pee all over the trail. Isis was quiet and I gave a quick run down of my experience on the summit.... COLD. We parted and I wished them safe travel as I always do. I knew that we would make great time going down with how fast the trail was to begin with so, we just enjoyed the walk. Quickly, we came upon another soul and it was Kevin R. Kevin was the owner of Brutus who was the Newfoundland who originally cut the Brutus Bushwhack to Owl's Head. So nice to meet and talk with him and Isis got some attention too. He informed me that our cut on the Black Pond Bushwhack a few weeks ago, shaved off .2 miles, which taking both ascend and descend into consideration is almost a half mile off that long trek. I probably could have talked for a lot longer if it were not for temps and a little white dog that was curling up. So, we opted to get moving and again wished one another safe travels. I swear Brutus might have been on the trail today in spirit! What an amazing feeling I had going back to the car. I was strong and ready to tackle the rest of my list. It may seem like it's only 5 left... It's a big 5 and I'm ready. 

       All total, we were on the trail from 8am (ish) until 11:30am (ish)... I never realized how quick a trip to just Pierce can be on the Crawford Path. I changed at the Highland Center in the parking lot and we headed for home. Ready to tackle the remaining of the "Winter 6" and ready to tackle 2015. I'm already feeling a shift in my thinking and liking the direction I am heading in. It's been an amazing journey so far and as it continues, I am amazed at my transformation. As it continues, I feel stronger and stronger. I never make resolutions at the New Year. I simply strive to improve on the previous year. So, let's see where 2015 takes me together. Thanks for following along and happy Trails to all. I hope to see you out on your own journeys soon! 
     So, the new year brings new stats and it's only just begun. Working on a number of goals, the most pressing is the Winter completion of the 48. The long range goals are the GRID and 4k a day... I had New Years Day already however, I am always glad to ring in a New Year on a peak! 

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