It's so loud down here... Let me start by pointing out this morning in my supposed "quiet" little town, it was noisy and congested with big trucks and loud motorcycles that seemed to clog the roads and my head. I wanted out and I've wanted out more often these days. Lucky for me, I possess a 4 day work week (for now) and I can get away to the White Mountains on a day when even the trails are less crowded. Maybe I'm showing my age but I'd rather enjoy a day away from it all now. Today, I was heading for Mt. Eisenhower which, I had missed when I was on Pierce a few weeks back. Today, Lil' Nugget and I would head up Edmunds Path. This is also my favorite approach to Mount Eisenhower. The grades are very easy and the path is clear. All water crossings are bridged (except for up high where there are a few small ones to cross but those are easy). Lil' Nugget and I set out in the early morning and just felt everything fall away as we walked up the path.
Once we passed our favorite bad weather warning (Literally, my first hike it started snowing right as I reached this sign in October of 2011), we broke tree line and magically, it was a new world. With the exception of the sounds of the Cog Rail, all you could hear were your own thoughts and the wind. And that wind was minimal. It was another perfect day. Looking all around, you could see clear over to the Northern Presidentials and the towers on Washington were clearly visible too. Lil' Nugget and I stopped to talk to some other hikers and got on the subject of hiking the LT, I'll talk forever on this! My favorite question I get asked is what was my most favorite moment... I can't come up with an answer because it always leads back to the people I met. The experience doe snot have one moment but a bunch of moments strung together by hiking some trails. So, once we decide to move on, at the junction for the the Crawford Path and Eisenhower, and instead of heading up, we headed over towards Franklin... It was not until I looked back that I realized the hump with the large cairn was in the opposite direction... Time to turn around. Didn't even phase me that I took the wrong turn (were this earlier in my hiking days, I might get seriously upset). I was just happy to be walking around on my favorite trails, looking out over the world. So, Lil' Nugget and I made it back to the junction and began climbing to Eisenhower. No problem!
Once up the final piece of elevation gain, Lil' Nugget and I find a place to rest by the giant Cairn. There were a few other dogs milling about but everyone was pretty respectable of space and owners would call them back as Lil' Nugget would bark. I was able to feed Lil' Nugget and get her water without too many tiffs. She's a dog though and she's going to bark if someone (human or canine) crosses her area, this is natural. There seemed to be a variety of hikers moving through Eisenhower today, from the experienced to the less experienced. Many coming across from other peaks. We just settled in and enjoyed the endless views. Sun screen applied as I was spending an endless amount of time exposed to the sun. I was in no hurry to move anywhere and that included going back to the car. We'd strike up conversations with people coming and going and soon Lil' Nugget settled in my lap for a while and didn't even care that other dogs were around. This made me happy. She really can be around other dogs. She just needs patience and understanding and a chance to settle on her own. Today, I was happy she got this. Reluctantly, we began our journey back to the car at 2pm (we summited around 12pm). I knew that I had obligations at home and just hoped that things would be settled once I got there.
It took us an hour and a half to descend the summit. Not a bad time for not hurrying back down. A day well spent on the trails that has now left me wanting to go back already. Like I said, it's loud down here and while I have demands and obligations to fulfill (and I'll do it my way and always figure out how to make it all work), I will always have a mountain top to escape to as my back up plan. Even if it's just for a few hours, I'll find a way to rejuvenate and refocus my mind and soul. I owe a lot to these peaks and I continue to benefit from visiting weekly... Call it my mental health prescription (it does keep my anxiety and depression at bay!). The world seems to move a lot fast that me these days and I'm OK with this. I don't need to rush through things and I am less concerned with controlling every little think in my life... I'll get to it on my time... Maybe that's mountain time or trail time? After all, time moves differently on the trails too.
I have become very protective of my fragile White Mountains. I've begun carrying extra trash bags to run trash out with me when I find it. I'll even admit to asking people to be mindful of the fragile alpine environment above tree line. Having hiked these trails since 2011, I am starting to notice some changes that are not too pleasing to me... Trash, erosion, and dying alpine flora have left me feeling like I needed to do something to help... To do my part. As a person who has seen her overall health and well being improved by a region that she now calls her second home, it only seems fitting that I try and give back. So that I can keep coming back here and enjoying time well spent sitting and doing nothing on a mountain top with my best friend while the world spins madly on at a break neck speed below me. I want to challenge you all that are reading this to do the same thing... Don't just walk past the trash and complain about it later, pick it up and take it with you. Yes, I realize that it's not your trash but you can be a part of the solution before we don't have these trails to enjoy.