I can't express again, how lucky I am. Things have this habit of working out and worry seems to be far away. I have this great job that on top of my co-workers getting genuinely excited for me and my passion, it sometimes sends me to conferences right at the heart of where I love to be. I was at Loon today and while it's not really climbing, I had the opportunity to ride the gondola to that summit. Then, since the conference got over at a good hour, I was able to swing over to Tecumseh (Waterville Valley) to climb that. The drawback would be that Lil' Nugget was at home. Because of this, I was curious, would I be faster? I decided to keep track of my time a little more closely than I usually do. It's 2.5 miles up and 5 miles round trip.
I started at 3:50pm, after changing in the lot and getting my pack together. I headed up the Mt. Tecumseh trail from the ski resort and seemed to be making good time. I was able to keep a pretty steady pace and there was very little stopping. I guess this is the one difference when I hike with Lil' Nugget, I'm constantly compensating for her need to stop and smell things as well as her short legs. Yes, being on a leash might be hindering my time. I realize this. As I keep going, the second water crossing is completely dry (the first one is not an issue either). Heading up the trail, I manage the rocks pretty good where again, when I am with Lil' Nugget, I feel like I'm tripping over everything given her inconsistent stop and go on the trail. At the third water crossing, I admire my favorite stairs and cross the water with ease as it is also low. Did I mention that we need rain here? Even the foliage is suffering.
I head up the stairs and down the trail which will lead me to my first "check point". It's 4:25pm when I arrive at the outlook of the ski slopes that look out to the Tripyramids. I'm pretty happy with that time. But now, it's nothing but elevation gain until I get to the ridge. This is where even without Lil' Nugget, I loose time. The ascents are sometimes slow going as I still huff and puff up the trails. I push the sun set out of my mind and I keep going. I just want to get to the top tonight. It didn't matter what time. I took a few breaks for water and persisted. The trail dipped so that it was out of the sun and a little dark. There is also a long stretch of rock stairs that I took advantage of and practically ran up. I seem to be doing rather well with this section and managed to pop out to the ridge at 5:09pm. As I continued on the ridge, I wanted to take the left side trail to the summit after the flat section of the ridge. I managed to get into the zone and just kept to the right at the junction.
OK, so the steeper side it is... I'll just take the back side trail down and make it a loop of sorts. After one big push up to the summit, I popped out to the view and discovered one other hiker up there. Andrew was an AMC worker this summer who was now back in school in Plymouth NH. We chatted about the summits history and I explained the lack of a view prior to someone clear cutting the trees and how it was actually still a nice view prior to this. We laughed about the crowded trails rather sarcastically and shared the same opinion that the far off and secluded places are better. I shared my experiences on the Long Trail with him and how much I disliked the noise (either people, machines such as snow guns, or just civilization encroaching on the trail) that sometimes accompanies the trails. He completely understood and seemed to also feel the same way. Oh, and we agreed on one thing... People who walk Lincoln Woods smell way better than the hikers. Seems that I found the boy that thinks like I do, I'm still looking for the man though... As the sun was going down, so did he and we wished each other well as he departed the summit. It was nice to share it with him and also equally nice to have it to myself. I wondered if I would have anyone else join me?
I wandered around the summit, sat for little while, had something to eat, and wandered around again. I was a little restless. The winds were picking up so, I did pull out my hat and gloves after having put on an extra layer once I sat down for a while. I took some pictures and decided that at 6:10pm, it was time to head down. I did after all have some obligations for tomorrow and a dog that I really wanted to head home to. It was time to see how my time was heading out in the dark. I had my headlamp already around my neck so, I would not have to stop. Now the descend, I took advantage of those rock stairs that I also used going up. The time was moving rather well and I was doing good keeping momentum without Lil' Nugget tugging me down. I mad it back to the outlook by 6:47pm. I stopped here only briefly to admire the moon and the glow.
From here, I used my headlamp to give the trail some definition and so I could see the footings around the rocks. It was getting darker and I noted that because of this, I was able to just hike. There was no distractions as the darkness is a lot like a blinder. Although I did hear something in the woods, I kept moving and just talked to myself rather loudly about anything. I started to hear the water and knew that I was getting closer to the end again and back at the car and I had that same feeling that I had as I was leaving the LT, do I really want to exit the trail? I stopped after the last water crossing of the day (night) and the time was 7:20pm. I had expected myself to end around 8pm. I think I know my pace pretty well now both with Lil' Nugget and without her. Over all, I was very happy with the day and the hike to end my night. Tecumseh is the perfect little 5 mile round trip when you just want a quick hike up and back. Nothing fancy. Nothing crazy. Just a good lil' mountain that is also still mighty and will make you work for it, just enough. I changed... Didn't matter because I was the only one in the lot now and it was pitch dark and got myself on the road to coffee and then to home and my best tail partner who was Oh so happy to see me that she did her little dance and would not leave me be for about 20 minutes.
All in all, a great way to end a nice day of work and play. I am so happy that I continue to have these opportunities and that my life allows me to continue to pursue my passions for the outdoors. I'm hoping that the weekend obligations calm down just enough for one last backpack before the weather gets too cold... I've been in need of some tent time recently to really focus myself and of course spend some time with Lil' Nugget too. Make no mistake, even though I was faster tonight, NOTHING beats hiking with my little four legged furry partner. She is my heart and soul in a way. She's been there when no one else has and she was very missed today. I had often joked when my last relationship ended rather poorly that I was just going to have a relationship with my dog... So far this is true and I am completely at peace with this. Yes, today was a good hike but it was empty and time will tell what unfolds in the future.