I'm going to be completely honest, I ran to the mountains today because I had had it with my life below 4000 feet. I was done and I was exhausted. But Friday at about 7:30pm I found the energy to prep the pack and even better, Saturday morning I found the energy to get out of bed. I was a little late but I figured that would be fine. I had specific objectives for today in that I am still training for the Long Trail. I wanted to pace myself a little slower so that I was not exhaust myself and I wanted to test out my gear in the rain... As I was expecting a rainy day. I had changed my mind a few times between the Kinsman's and Waumbek but in the end, I decided to go for it. I was not going to let a week decide that I'd do the lesser peak. I was not going to let them win. At the trailhead for the Mount Kinsman Trail, there is no one else there and it's spring time conditions... Cool and the trail is clear of ice and snow. Isis is distracted by the deer hair that I parked next too as I get the pack ready (she rolled all over it!). I leave the snowshoes in the car... It's going to be a fun day!
As we walk, she is extra aware of anything in the wood. I wish I could see what she see's. We pass over some pretty decent terrain and very little ice and mud. Things are solid and we make good time. I pass my favorite building (which is also creepy) and smile with an exhale of the week. As Isis and I continue, I find familiar landmarks to tell me where I am at and at the same time, the layers are coming off because I'm warm. We begin to hit some ice and I make my way around. I'm holding off on the spikes until it's more consistent. Slipping a little but that's nothing compared to what is coming. At the first major water crossing, I see winter up ahead and the spikes finally come on. As we cross (Isis in my arms), I remind myself that my boots are waterproof. The water is flowing but I can see a clear path and as I step on the ice.. Crash! Well, now the water crossing is a little wider... And the ice I broke off flows down stream.
Breaking after the crossing, I feed Isis and myself as well as take in some Gatorade. Ready to continue, we begin to add elevation. It's all up from here and then we start balancing on the monorail... Step to the side and you're going down (even with snowshoes). It's Springtime in The Whites. And still, I am enjoying myself. Trying to stay out of my head and on the trail. Looking for my favorite tree on this trail, it's the blowdown with all the holes in it, and I forget that it's after the Bald Peak junction, which is our next major stop. Isis and I break again here after battling mildly with the monorail. I catch my breath and she snacks. We decide to take the .2 to Bald Peak and are not disappointed.
On Bald Peak, I am thinking that the weathermen got it really wrong today and perhaps we will get away with no rain. Isis and I make it back to the sign post where I dropped my pack and get ready to continue to the Kinsman's. It's 1.6 to the Kinsman Ridge Trail. As we climb, she's post holing each time she steps off the trail which causes me to step off the trail and post hole. I lost track of the number of times I had to stop and yank myself back out and no, I don't believe that snowshoes would have helped. The Monorail itself is stable... You just can't stay on it with out an awkward balancing game. So, I groan and I yank myself out and in some cases, I am in it up to my hip and that's a struggle. We keep going and begin to break out of the trees. The views of Franconia Ridge start to poke out and I am happy. At this moment, I am out of my head and on the trail. Our next stop is North Kinsman but first we take a break at the junction for the Kinsman Ridge Trail. The sign is buried and at foot level rather than eye level like it should be. Yes, there is plenty of winter left... Too bad it's Spring.
Isis and I run into Conway and his owner on our way to North Kinsman. It was a quick passing but I learn that there are others up here too. All came from the Fishin' Jimmy side as I was the only one in the parking lot on the Mt. Kinsman side. It was up here that Isis got dive-bombed by... A bug! They are back and buzzing. We stop at the top of the outlook for North Kinsman and opt not to stop but rather just cross the peak on our way to South Kinsman. It's a struggle but little easier as we loose elevation briefly. Going down the trail seemed to help with the sinking since I could glissade a little and with the soft snow, not sinking in was a blessing. Pretty much the whole way over to South Kinsman, it was a lot of concentration to stay on the monorail. The weather was beautiful and the mood was still light but I was thinking of my return trip in the soft snow. We ran into another soul on the trail and promptly, I fell in up to my... Yeah, that deep. And he fell in up to his knee in shoes. Again, it was a quick conversation and we were both on our way. Isis struggled up here as she continued to sink in. Getting closer to South Kinsman, we ran into another soul I would later find out is Peter. I did my best to keep Isis in control. She just loves people... A lot. It was not long but it seemed like forever with the sinking in that we reached South Kinsman.
I hang out long enough for pictures and to feed Isis. I know it's going to be a long trip back to the car and I'm beginning to pay attention to the weather. It's looking like a storm will roll in. The question is, can I get back to the car before it does? While we head back, I begin sinking in and my boots are filling with snow. I'm aware that my feet are in some kind of soup at the moment and while I have extra socks, I don't want to change them just yet since they will only get soaked sooner rather than later. It's a big time struggle to get back to the sign for the Mount Kinsman Trail and yet it seems to take less time that the trip out. Isis tries to eat the sign initially and even wants to go down the other trail but I redirect her to our way down. This is not an easy descend. I'm sinking in more than I'd like and more often than not getting stuck. Isis is getting yanked back or also sinking in and as we make our way down, I hear... THUNDER. I just want to get to the junction for Bald Peak and I know that the snow will be less and I can travel faster. Little did I know, that I would not have a choice. As we got closer to the junction, the rain came. I put my coat back on and my hat but I could not get my rain cover out in time. The thunder and lightening was spooking Isis and I opted for the quick descend. The only problem is that she's getting tired and wanting to lay down. I'm forced to be a little forceful with her. we need to get back to the car.
Now, as I reach past the open water crossing, I take off my spikes and just carry them in a muddy mess, I post hole in the mud too. Everything is a mess but I need to get back to the car. Thankfully, the thunder and lightening have stopped and while we are quick, we are not running anymore. Except as we round the corner by the one building on the trail, another clap of thunder and I let out a "Seriously Chief??" and I think to myself that now the rain will stop just as I get to the car. It takes no time for us to have the car in view and as we cross into the parking area... The rain stops and I just have to laugh at the whole thing. I love my grandfather and I think he goes with me on these journeys. Isis is loaded the car and she just looks pathetic. I'm still the only car in the lot so, I get changed without worry out of those wet cloth and I seriously could have wrung out my socks. I'm not sure of my next plan of a sunset hike after Isis goes to the V-E-T tomorrow morning. But if it can be swung and if the bruises from today are not bad... Maybe Liberty for Sunset? We'll see.
It did feel really good to finally get out on my head after a long week (I seriously dislike how preoccupied I have been lately. It's not the life I want). Not to mention being on call last week and NOT hiking. Today was a challenge on a lot of levels and I was happy with the way things played out. My rain gear held and I was dry upon my return to the car. Isis, while she didn't like it was able to tolerate it too. The mileage was not an issue and when I (hopefully) hit the trail in August, the snow will be gone. I say hopefully because there are more than likely some changes coming for me (given how I feel lately) and if possible, I may have to postpone my trip to next year. But as of right now, even though we didn't place in the Kurgo contest (Thank you for voting!), Isis and I are still planning on being out on the Long Trail in August... With many more peaks between now and then.