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Flume and Liberty Rain and Shine.

I'm a pretty lucky woman these days... I know that like most, I don't always realize it but I truly am. I have enough in my life to keep me fed, warm, and healthy. Not to mention busy and I have the ability to continue to pursue my passions in the outdoors. I have a job that allows me to not only do good meaningful work but also allows me to balance my own care and hike pretty regularly without worry or guilt. Not to mention the support I feel. So, on this Friday, I decided to treat myself (to honor myself and the day) to my favorite hike... Mt. Flume and Mt. Liberty over Osseo Trail to Liberty Springs Trail (taking me to both summits) and back again. I don't even know why this is my favorite hike and two favorite summits. It just is and on this day, it seems appropriate. I have not always liked this day. Which is funny because it's kind of my day... But now, it's not really my day. And today, it was a mixed day. 

It was raining pretty hard when I woke up. Isis and I drove through that rain and hoped that it would pass. Once we got to Lincoln Woods, I took my time getting ready. I got out my rain gear and got my pack cover on. The rain itself seemed to be lightening up so, I was hopeful. Isis however, was not impressed and probably having flashbacks to the torrential down pour we walked through on the LT. She was really pulling back as we crossed the bridge and headed up the Lincoln Woods trail. 

Lincoln Woods trail is of course flat and straight... The trees seem to cut the rain and Yet as Isis and I walk, we feel the rain get a little stronger and then lighten up again. She's trying to smell everything and straining a little so, I try and cut her some slack but I also don't want to get soaked. So, even though I know the rain will stop and I will dry off, I urge her to move on. There are a few other hikers out today and judging from the enlarge packs, they are doing some kind of Pemi Loop. Isis get's treats at the turn for the Osseo trail and we are on our way. The first stop will be Mt. Flume and I am hoping to actually go slow enough that the rain clears. Osseo trail has easy grades and is wide enough that it doesn't feel like trail to start. The rain is breaking up as I move up the trail and in elevation and then picking up again, so, the rain gear is coming off and being put back on again. Isis is also putting the breaks on still as well as actually walking herself. I dropped her leash for a while and let her follow but she was not consistent enough yet. My favorite section of this trail was coming. After the switchbacks and the rock stairs (9 sets!), it's time for the ladders!

There are a lot of them (as you could see), leading to a plateau of sorts. Then you climb just a little more, followed by another plateau and a final push out to the ridge which leads to a fantastic rock summit. I could sit up here all day in the now sunny skies. There is another hiker up there with us and he's enjoying the sun as well. We share stories about what we have been doing, what we are doing today and for the weekend. He's on a Pemi of sorts but doing it kind of the same way I did with the exit at 13 falls. I mention moving on to Liberty at which point, there will be cake. Well, cake for me that is. Isis will get cheese. It's actually an easy 1.2 miles over to the summit on the Franconia Ridge trail. 

Essentially, it's a down, a walk over the Col which is mostly flat, and then an up to the summit. This up section is characterized by a few scramble like sections with one really tricky rock. You know it by the split in it and you have to walk over it. BUT, on this day, after an uneventful walk down and over, I take the Whack cut by my friend The Old Man and the Saw. It takes out that tricky rock and brings you out to that incredible rock face of Liberty and you go up that way as opposed to the back side. Isis and I walk up the slabs to the summit and take a seat in the clouds... It's completely clouded in. We are joined by some others who are either Thru hiking or Pemi hiking. All are guys and there are no other dogs. Isis settles down for nap. I pull out my Gluten Free Chocolate cake and simply enjoy. This was my moment and much like my hazelnut coffee experience on Liberty, chocolate cake also tastes way better up high. People are filing in and out and I run into Brent who's happy to finally meet me in person after knowing both Isis and myself online for so long. Isis and I continue to enjoy ourselves as the clouds finally part. Ironically it was as my company on Flume arrived. It just proved to be a beautiful day on the summits as I enjoyed the sun on my back. I also met Sir Duke Smellsalot who is hiking the AT and heading to Katahdin in Maine. We shared our experiences in VT and came to the conclusion that it's all about the MUD. At around 2pm, I determined that I needed to head back in the direction of the car. This was a reluctant move but I knew that I needed to get home and I wanted to be on the flat trail if it came time for a head lamp, should I lag on Flume again. 

We make our way back to Flume in no time. The trails are dryer now and of course, I took the whack again rather than hike down the rocks. Once back on Flume, we have it to ourselves and so, I take a seat. I don't want to head back down yet. The real world can wait for a little while. It's so quiet (except for a little wind), warm in the sun, but the breeze also keeps you cool with no humidity, and well, I've finally made peace with this day. I feel like I can go back now and at 3pm, we begin our descend of Flume back to the Lincoln Woods parking lot. The trails are starkly empty for this Friday. A sure sign of the change in seasons. But also that it's still a week day after Labor Day. Most people are working. The walk down passes quickly as we make our way back over the ladders and then down 9 sets of rock stairs. We run into a few other souls that are hiking up. One hoping to make a successful 3rd attempt of Flume (the other two have failed), and a couple who was caught in the rain this morning and got a late start. Everyone was in great spirits and happy to be on the trails and enjoying the fine day we have been given.  Once on the flatter trails, Isis and I really make up time and before I know it, I'm on the flat Lincoln Woods trail being asked if the Falls are really worth it. Too bad I didn't go there... But I did tell her they were. Anything in nature is "worth it". Back at the car, changed and ready for coffee and what ever awaits me at home. Today has been worth every ounce of doubt and fight. I continue to love these summits and this hike. 

Like I said, I'm a pretty lucky woman. I get to continue to enjoy my passions and have a work schedule that fits my life not a life that fits my work schedule. I don't complain or speak ill of anyone. Nor do I feel the need to call attention to myself... I'm a mouse in that aspect. It suits me just fine. But this day, I have honestly disliked, liked, and been indifferent to. I've disliked everything that it's done to my family and to the world at large. I've loved it for what it has brought me and been indifferent to it because I simply did not know what to do with it for a long time... It's a day. But it's more than a day. Today, I chose to honor this day rather than with the crowds tomorrow for Flag on the 48 (when the fly flags on all the 48 4K's). It's better for me this way. I can continue to be the private person I had longed to be for so long and Isis got a day on the trails that is also low stress. On top of everything else this day stands for, it is also my birthday. I'm significantly older than the events of 14 years ago so, this day was not always sullen and somber. But now, it does not need to be. It's a day to honor those by living your life to the fullest and showing them that great things continue to happen. Through the rain, the sun does come out and people do rise above. My adventures will continue.  

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