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Franconia Ridge... Where it All Comes Together.

         The weekday's for me are nothing compared to my weekends. I look forward to them, much like everyone else. My weekends are where I can breathe again. Where I can smile. Where I can hear my heart beat and know that I am indeed alive and no matter what, I'm going to be OK. It doesn't matter what the week brings. When the weekend comes, I make sure that I come first. I design my life around these trips and I will always find a way to get to the mountains. This is my time and no one will change that. I've spent far too long living in shadows and I realize that half of my slump was because I continued to listen to the voices of my past. Today, it was time to go back to Franconia Ridge and today, you don't just put your head down and go. You savor it. You keep your head up and you look around. You take your time and you make the day last. Today, Franconia Ridge was under bluebird skies. There was no turning back. Today, I take it all back and I move forward. 

        Isis and I started out a little after 7am. I started in snowshoes and would stay in them until the end mostly because I hate to carry them. We made our way down the trail and of course made a stop at my favorite tree. Here is where we ran into Brent and his pup General Patton (what a sweet boy!). We both conversed about the day we had in store and then he was on his way. I kept my own pace which matches Isis and that was fine with me. It was cold this morning and winter was still alive and well. The old Bridal Path was well packed and easy to travel though and for that I was thankful. We caught up to Samantha next who had pulled into the parking lot behind me and stopped to chat for a little while. We would leap frog a little and eventually meet back up at the hut. Isis and I enjoyed the trails on our own and waited for the incline to kick in. I was ready... Televators on my shoes. The views began to peak out too. 

       As I hit the agonies and Agony Ridge, the world opened up as it has so many times before and I see the rest of the ridge... It's clear. There are no clouds anywhere. I have a complete clear day ahead of me and I am excited. I can see the wind blowing the snow off the summit and I know it's going to be cold. No one is coming up behind us so we linger on the trail and take it all in. Today is a day to savor. Everything else can wait. This is my time. The trail is solid here and while it's little icy, my snowshoes grab nicely and I use my televators on the rest of agonies. I am looking forward to getting to the hut for a break. I also notice that the trail is a little... well... short. In that I keep crashing into branches and feel like I need to be "pintsized" like Isis is. We have so much snow that I wonder if we will be in snowshoes until June! I put my arms up to block the branches and keep pushing. A group of three guys pass us and we crest the trail to the hut. Time for a food break and the crowd starts moving in. Isis and I seem to have a following now and it's so nice to run into people. Especially those that seem to have the same ideas about today. Samantha is at the hut and very excited since she's never seen the views before.

        As Isis and I make our way past Eagle Lake, we begin the climb to Lafayette. As it begins in and out of the trees, I am sheltered from the wind at first but it is still cold. The crowd is coming up behind us but we are all just taking our time and taking in the views. You can see forever and all the surrounding peaks are looking great today. I view my old nemesis North Lafayette and smirk knowing that I'll see this peak again over the summer as I train for the Long Trail. I have it in my mind to try for a backpacked Pemi Loop again to help me train. Isis and I continue up the steep mile and as it turns we are hit with different degrees of wind. The trail itself here is blown in so, my snowshoes are perfect. Isis is making the best of things. She is struggling a little and I think about the trip and remember that it get's better the closer you get to the other end at Little Hay Stack. I pull my buff up over my nose to shield the wind. We even wait for the rest of the crowd to pass and I figure out why. Isis doesn't like wind and when we follow, she is shielded. Smart dog! I see another dog coming up the trail to the summit and this also makes Isis stop. She so wants to play with him except we need to keep moving from the cold. I hear a voice behind the dog owner proclaim that she's tired. This was about 100 feet from the summit.... They never made it. I think they turned back which was smart but on a day like today, you want to make your best effort. Take care of yourself. Eat and drink enough to keep going.

       My camera and my phone froze on Lafayette. A bluebird day straight across the Ridge and my equipment is dead... I break out the toe warmers to bring things back to life, sticking one on each side on my inner pocket of my jacket. I'm not going without something to capture the day. Isis and I decide to make our way across the ridge and I glissade down the other side of Lafayette. The snow is deeper and a little less consolidated but still passable. Franconia Ridge is just glorious! It's windy and for that, we keep moving. No time for a food break yet. As we come down from Lafayette, before we hit Truman, I come across a kind soul from North Carolina. He brings up a good point as I am being very passive about my summit picture fail since I've been here before. "While you've been here before, this is the first time you've been here today". He tries to take my picture again and struggles but he didn't realize that it actually took! At this very moment, I stopped being concerned about everything except the moment I was in right now. Nothing mattered and I finally realized that I had been living in the existence of things past. Where it was more concerning to catch up than to just enjoy the trail. I stopped to look around and just smiled. Today, was my day. As we walked, I looked all around and pointed out the peaks to myself. Every one of them looked like the place to be today... Even Owl's Head.

       As we were coming down from the Gargoyles, Isis and I saw two dogs coming up the trail. A beauty of a black lab and a Weimaraner that made me pause to remember a friend. Loki was having a great day on the mountain and I could not help but smile for him. After cresting Lincoln, the wind had just.... Died. It was warm and I was just in awe of this day. Everyone we ran into was a great spirits and so friendly. Each one loved Isis and just showered her with love. All of us shared the beauty of this day. As we came to Little Haystack, we paused to talk to a couple who were later joined by a former Thru Hiker who was getting ready for the PTC in a few weeks. We again lingered and talked about hiking, plans, and dehydrating meals. Isis rested on a rock and was only mildly upset when I picked her up for a picture We lingered here for as long as we could since I really didn't want to head back down and the weather was perfect.

      As we made our way down the Falling Water's Trail, I took one last butt sled... Who knows what the conditions will be like next weekend and the snow was already mashed potatoes on this end. It felt good to go sliding down the trail and made a quick descent fun. There were others coming up this way and I knew that fun would be had the closer I got to the falls. It was warming up too as we went down and I knew layers would soon come off. Isis and I savored the last remain experiences on the trail. The cool ice on the falls offered some nice eye candy... The funny tourists in jeans with a fashion (instead of functional) backpack who looked at me like I was crazy for having all the gear in the world. And the last moments of peace before the car.

           Isis and I meet up with everyone again by the restrooms before the parking area. I raised my hands in victory on the approach. This day was a complete success and restored my faith in myself. Having been on my own for almost 2 years now, I fall to periods of depression and also old patterns of thinking. I realize that most of the time I turn back is when I feel like I need to rush to catch up to someone (but no one is there). I use to feel this way a lot and it's easy to fall back into old habits. Today, I kept my head up and slowed myself down and I truly drank in the scenes of this hike. Today was about centering and moving forward. Today was my day under bluebird skies. I came to the conclusion, this is where my heart beats stronger and anyone that is going to be in my life will also need to be in the mountains. Back at the car I changed and wished I had a T-shirt instead of my sweatshirt. Isis laid down and promptly fell asleep after her Greenie reward. That is the sign of a GREAT day!

     Isis and I are officially training for the Long Trail. Even with the challenges of Shoulder Season upon us, we will be out there hiking a lot and I'll be adding weight to my pack as I go. The hope is to do a Pemi Loop this summer in order to really get a feel for things... Weather please cooperate! :) We are also still in need of votes to have our trip sponsored by KURGO... Please go to Our Page and give us a Thumbs Up.... Competition is picking up as new entrants are added... Top ten is chosen in less than a month and 4 winners are selected from there. Thanks for the votes!

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