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Wildcat's... Finally.

We are given this one glorious life to live as we choose... I'm going to spend my time exploring and getting as close as I can to nature and the basics in life. Today is special. Today, I am heading back to the Wildcat's after swearing (at them) them off back in winter. Today, Wildcat D would not only become #47 (again) of my 3rd round, it would also become #200 of my first Grid. Let's recap briefly, how I got here. In 2010, I got sick and then spent the better part of a year getting myself back under control health wise. I was determined not to spend another summer on my couch. Enter in some poor choices and a desire to actually do something to change myself and then enter in... Hiking. Build up to 4000 footers and then a promise to do my first 48 before 40 (I  did it!), here I am, plus one very cute dog and minus some bad choices. I'm healthier than I ever have been and going strong. I've met a lot of great people that have been weaving in and out of my life. I'm enjoying myself finally and not listening to nagging voices that say I "can't". Life is good above 4000 feet and I have never felt as strong as I do today. 

Now, the Cat's have been a thorn in my side. I swore them off until this week, when something told me to go get 'em. Maybe it's because I have had 2 hanging for my 3rd round for a while and I have a desire to get them now. Or maybe it's because it was time. I got to the trail head for 19 Mile Brook Trail at almost 8:30am and actually got a head in parking space. I was a little shocked because this is a Hut trail head and it's National Trails Day. I was expecting it to be packed and to send me packing. Guess It was meant to be today. Isis and I hit the trails and it's very quiet. I'm expecting the crowds at any time but they really never materialize. It's cool and walking next to the water on the 19 mile brook trail makes it a little cooler. I have my wind shell on along with my skort and tank top. Trying some different cloths out for the trail and as usual, my trail runners are great. I notice more and more how light my feet feel and that is compared to my heavy Asolo's that I use to wear. How can I ever go back? 

It takes me about an hour to get to the junction for the Carter's and Isis and I take a break for some trail snacks. She's sampling some Pumpkin Mango stars today and loves them as well as her usual Dog Jerky. We begin to make our way to the junction for the wildcat ridge and it's a wet trail from here with 3 bridged water crossings. I'm content to take my time as I know this will be a long day. I'm also tempted to go down Polecat at the ski slopes and hope for the best in terms of the road walk back. But I'll cross that bridge at Wildcat D. On this section, we begin to run into the hut cru and I see that it's trash day. I thank them for everything they do as we pass. So far, no other souls have come across my path. I'm singing up the trail and just enjoying the cool day and the green trail. It's not a hard trail. It's just long and wet but it still only takes me an hour to get to the next junction. My trail runners are relatively dry and even when they do get wet, they dry quickly. Isis is doing well but I know we are in for a test on the Wildcat Ridge.

Even taking a break right by the hut, there is still no traffic on this fantastic Saturday. Isis and I both eat here and then we get ready to climb for .7 to Wildcat A. It's a loooooong .7 that takes us over rocks, some flat sections, a few little water tributaries and one emerging slide. We run into Michael and Monica, who are coming down and heading to the Carter's. Again, it's always nice to see familiar faces. Content to just take our time, we do start to run into others. All are very friendly and all are in great spirits. Isis is getting lots of attention and is in a great place. It's not hot because of the wind and I am very glad I did not go above tree line today. Dare I say that Wildcat's were a good choice? The fun's only just starting as we climb to A peak. We have to get to D peak. As we climb, we are getting views and the clouds are beautiful in the blue sky. I can't help but smile. We break at the outlook for A and see the Carter's are clouded in. 

 Here is were the fun begins and I should point out, the only time we have done this was in winter so, getting down was as easy as sliding on my ass. Can't really do that today. So, here is where I consider an escape down Polecat and either posting for a pick up at Wildcat ski resort or doing the dreaded road walk. It's ALOT of ups and downs that we need to do... Twice. And many of these ups and downs are a little steep. So, I really can't call these PUDS (Pointless Ups and Downs), since we are going from Peak to Col and well, you get the point. Again, we just take our time and go slow. What else can we do when navigating these things. There are plenty of bog bridges in the Cols and even some on the peaks to give us something flat to walk on. I do enjoy this and we are making great time. It is tiring however and takes a lot out of both Isis and myself. I loose track of the peaks and somewhere I think I counted C peak twice. I never lost my patience and pretty much stayed in the moment on this one too. We began making our final push to Wildcat D and I recognized the area as soon as we hit it. Soon the observation deck was in view and there were two gentlemen resting by the opening. Isis and I climbed to the deck and had decent views to the Presidents across the way. Washington was in and out of puffy clouds but they were moving fast so I new it was really windy over there. We took some pictures and had some food and a nice rest before we began our trip back to the car.

Once we were on our return trip, I reassured myself and Isis that it was "all down hill from well, Wildcat A". Right now, we needed to go back across the ups and downs of the other peaks. I was a little concerned at some of the steeper rock formations but really, they were a piece of cake for us. And again, I lost track of the peaks by number but it did seem to be quick to land back at the outlook for A. Everything is going well and I am over all pleased with my time for this very long day. I make sure that we continue to make slow progress going down the steep .7 back to the Hut junction. We begin to run into more people coming up and most are staying at the Hut. I'm sure that the traffic will keep increasing but over all, it was minimal. Is this a Saturday? And a nice Saturday to boot? Going down is always quicker than going up and before I can blink, it seems that we are back at the junction of the hut. Taking a quick food break. I estimate that we'll be back at the car by 6pm. To my surprise, there is still a patch of snow after this junction.

The walk back out on 19 mile brook trail is pretty uneventful and rather easy. There's a few people on the lower sections that are also heading out and taking their time over the rocks and roots. It's a wet trail and Isis and I count off the remaining water bridges. Once we get back into the parking area, we stop and chat with some other fellow hikers that are finishing up their day and happen to recognize Isis. Always great to meet new people. I change at the car and we get ready to head for home. Isis is almost instantly sleeping once she settles into her seat. It has been a good day to get reacquainted with this area. One that I don't always get along with. Wildcat D is once again, #47 for my 3rd round and Isolation will once again finish the round. And Wildcat D is also my #200. Who would have thought this?

It has been an interesting journey to date and as I continue, I expect nothing less than adventure and the beauty of nature to surround me. I began this as a way to meet people and as a way to continue my road back to good heath. I never counted on coming to a better understanding of myself and the strength I possess. I continue to work towards my Long Trail trip which will thoroughly test my comfort zone and as I do, I expect to come out of that experience even stronger. Yes, I hike a lot. Yes, I'm aware that it takes up a good chunk of my time.... Can you blame me? It's better than sitting at home waiting for things to happen... I'd rather go out and explore and see what I can make happen. I am blessed with renewed good health and a renewed sense of spirit (Thanks to some recent changes below 4K). I plan on doing this for as long as I can. 

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