Winter 2014/15 has come to a close and at my own doing, I have left two peaks of the original 6 hanging... Driving up this morning with all intentions of making a long trip to West Bond, I began wapping my head around the trip... I did the mileage in my head, it's a lot for West Bond and there's a storm coming. The storm had little to do with my decision though. I kept driving and feeling weighted down by this and so many other trips. Then, somewhere around Lincoln on 93 I said No. I said no to pushing myself any more. I said no to hiking for a number. I said no to finishing in less than desierable weather. I just said no and the amazing thing was that a weight lifted. As if instantanious, I felt ten times lighter going through Franconia Notch and I was going to hike today to just hike. No pressure... What ever I got, I got. I hiked to have a peaceful day with Isis because there have been so few in my life as of late. I hiked to try and continue getting myself back on track again because let's face it, since 2012 I've been all out of sorts and living on a shoestring. It was time to take charge again and get myself back to good health all around (physical and mental). I decided to hike my little triplets: Tom, Field, and Willey... Sure, they fit nicely into my Grid for this month and this was my 8th visit to the peaks. That didn't matter to me today.
We arrived at the Highland Center and parked. I got my boots on and used the lodge facilities. Quickly, we hit the trail and put my snowshoes on at the start of the trail rather than at the car. Avalon Trail is very well packed and we are traveling fast today. The winds are light and while it's still early (7:45am), I'm warming up. I wore my base layer, mid-layer (omni heat), and my wind/rain shell. Plus I had my winter pants, base layer bottoms, hat, and gloves. I was doing well today and traveling light. Isis had her coat on but probably could go without it now too. We made it to my favorite water crossing and it's still frozen solid. Nothing of note on the trails as they are well maintained. I did see that the water crossing is starting to open but nothing obstructing traffic yet. As far as I know Isis and I are the only one's out here today. We break for some food (new record for eating cheese and salami in the morning at 8:30am!) and a gear adjustment. A couple comes up behind and passes us and as we get under way again, Isis is eager to catch them. I slow her down. Hiking to the first junction takes until a little after 9am. We break again here and Isis gets more food. It's 1 mile to the Mount Tom Spur where I will drop my pack for the ascent. As we walk this section, I notice the increased American Martin activity... Lot's of tracks and scat. This makes me smile. There is now about a half an inch of fresh snow from recent snows but not todays. I'm glad for the snow shoes. As there is a lot of elevation gain on this section, I'm also happy for my heal lifts. A new dog comes running up behind us and taunts Isis a little. His owner is no where in sight so I scare him off. I'm hoping that his owner regains control soon. The last thing I need is to have Isis distracted and not moving on a steep section. My calves can't take that. We later find out that his name is Duke and gladly let him and his owner pass us. No barks between them...
We reach the Mount Tom Spur in a little over an hour since the steeps seem to always kick my butt. I drop my pack and try to have some fun with the Grey Jays but they are not having it because of Isis. We make our way up to Mount Tom (.5 miles) in great time. We arrive to really good views since the snow pack is so high. Making our way to the true summit is a little different and seems to take a different turn. you can't even find the cairn it's so deep up here. I check out the new view and then head back the way we came. Take another summit picture with Presidents behind us and we are off back to my pack. We begin our trip to Field a little after 11am. The Willey Range trail is a little less broken but manageable with the hard pack underneath the new snow. It's a little uneven but not enough for me to feel uncomfortable. Isis and I set into a rhythm and pass the time quickly. It's now snowing and I can hear the wind pick up. I'm happy with my decision. My trip to West Bond would have been miserable and ended in another missed summit. I'm continually impressed with the snowpack since the blazes are either at my waist or lower (usually eye level). Quickly we find our way to the Avalon trail junction and it's 100 yards to Field. Summit number two of the day is a success and again, you cannot find the cairn anymore. There is another hiker up there too who seems to be taking our picture as we approach the summit. He leaves for Willey and I set the camera in a tree to take our next summit photo. The views from here are diminishing.
I decide that we'll take on Willey today. It's time to get this loop again and we head onward. Again, the trail is a little uneven but nothing that makes me want to turn back. The snowpack is again so deep that the steep downs are no issue and we continue to make great time. Passing all the familiar landmarks and feeling confident for the first time in a few months. I take my time on the steep ups and count the dips in the trail to figure out where we are at. One more dip and an up and we'll be at the summit. It helps that the trail is in great shape today. Once we pop out onto the summit (end of the trail), we are startled by another hiker (Derek?) who I chat with and he takes our final summit picture. He's had a great day too and will be heading back soon as he is getting cold. I thank him for the photo and he's on his way. Isis and I stick around for a cloudy view and to just breath in a few deep breaths. I did it. Now to get back to the car.
Making quick time in our back track to Field, the wind is really picking up and I'm again happy with my choices. We take the Avalon Trail back to the junction and it's not as Icy as I had heard. The snowpack is good and my shoes are grabbing nicely to keep me upright in the steep sections. Isis is in control as well and we are able to make good time again. We run into a couple that is coming up there trail and seem to be having fun. My day is winding down and I'm itching to get out of my shoes. I slip once and slide for a little while but I really want to stay upright to keep working my legs. I make quick time of the mile and a half to the junction and I'll thankful for skipping some of the ups and downs had I descended and gone by way of Mount Tom. Isis and I break again at the junction and I catch my breath and stretch my arms out. Taking note that there is not a lot of tension in my shoulders. This is the home stretch back to 302 and the highland center. There is no other traffic on the trail today. The weather has probably kept everyone away but, I'm happy to be out here. It's been a very good day for me. As we come back out to Crawford Station, I'm ready to get back to the car. It's been a full day. Even if it was not that day I've intended it to be.
No is such a powerful word. It can limit you or it can set you free. I've never felt better in my life and for me to achieve this feeling today, I call that a success. I've been trying to shed the outmoded thinking of the last four years.. Give or take a few month and find myself again. While I do want to challenge myself and I do want to be better than I was yesterday. I know that I do have to remain realistic and progress slowly. I know that I need to keep pushing but not to the extent that it feels like a chore. I don't need anything when I hike. I just need to hike. Winter peaks and a blue patch and scroll lost their meaning finally and those last two peaks will be there next winter. I'll be stronger then and the victory will be so much sweeter. I'm done with hiking that doesn't lead to enjoyment and hiking to just get the peaks in. The funny thing was when I actually went to look at my spreadsheet last night, I actually already had these for March and I didn't care. It was a wonderful feeling to not have to justify to myself why I did the same set a second time in March. I did it because I wanted to and I enjoyed my time with almost guilty pleasure. The mountains will always be there and I intend to hike them for a long time. This is where my life that has not made any sense for a long time, makes sense to me. I can breath up here where my weekday self can't seem to breath or keep her head from spinning. My weekend's are where my professional life takes the back seat that it should more often and life finally slows down. I'm so susceptible to sickness when under stress and I have not been feeling myself for a long time. It's time to take back my health again and the mountains will remain a big part of that process. I'm excited for the many trips Isis and I have coming up and more important as I begin to section hike the Long Trail in Vermont this coming summer with the first half of a SoBo trip.
Isis and I are trying to win a sponsorship for our Long Trail hike through Kurgo. Please help us out but clicking HERE and then voting for us at the bottom of the page. Thank you so much and HAPPY TRAILS!