I was a little short on time this weekend but I knew that I wanted to get up North. The weather had me chasing a few plans and finally settling on just a quick hike for Saturday. Given that I had to work on Friday and Isis had a vet appointment on Sunday, Tecumseh would fit right in. Plus, I could get a few things done at home on Saturday after the hike. The other beautiful thing about Tecumseh for me is that it's a short hike and that means that I can sleep late. I felt lazy not getting on the road until 6am and I could have slept even later too. It was going to be a cold weekend so, the pack was packed with extra winter gear and hot chicken and rice soup. At the trail head, the sun was in and out of the clouds so, I figured I had made the right choice.
The first water crossing right at the trail head at the ski resort was easy. The trail itself is covered in leaves and a little slick in spots but nothing drastic. Isis and I are having a great day so far and as we continue, the sun feels warm but I remain in my layers. No hat and no gloves down low but those would come soon enough. The second water crossing that was dry a month ago is now flowing again but it's also easy to cross. We are making great time and I just begin to slow down. No need to hurry today. Leading to the third water crossing is a little eroded. The third crossing itself is easy as well. Then up the stairs I found more erosion that was a little worse. As the mud freezes and is covered with snow, it will be fine until the melt for next spring. There were lots of great fall sights on the lower trails.
At the outlook for the ski slopes, we run into a few other hikers who love Isis. We all begin to head up the trail by the ski slopes and just keep climbing. There are rocks and rock stairs to contend with but the rock stairs are surprisingly helpful. They make the constant up of the trail a little easier. Usually, I don't get these as I've been climbing this one a lot in winter or winter conditions. As Isis and I continue and let most everyone pass us, winter begins to appear on the trees. It's not until we get to the ridge that it's on the ground too.
Once on the ridge though it's a quick five minute walk to the summit. Mostly this is a flat trail until you get to the junction. I usually go left over the rocks rather than right up the steep side. Going left just seems to give my legs a break although today, I don't seem to need it. It's still morning and I am standing on the summit. Despite my best efforts to chill, we are still fast. I guess with experience comes easier hiking. Sharing the summit with two guys from my home area (I think they said Dublin and Swanzey?), we are quickly joined by a group of college girls and an older couple. People are quickly getting cold from the wind and heading down. I had some of my chicken and rice soup and cheddar cheese to keep me warm. Of course, Isis had some cheese too. It would not be a summit for her without it. We enjoyed the intermittent view from the clouds moving in and out.
I had to laugh to myself talking with the group of college girls in their perfect outfits and make up, gushing about the grander of the mountains (truth there, they are grand and also dangerous). One asked if everyone in New Hampshire just got up on the weekends with their dogs and went hiking. Of course I said yes to that. Well, for me it's true anyway. We as a state have a few other things going for us too though. Talk of lists and goals and more serious hiking was lost on this crowd so, I opted to get ready to descend. They soon headed down too. I was glad that I had my long underwear on at the summit and my gloves. No real need for a hat though. Winter has definitely got a grip on the area. Well, at least at the summits. The walk back down goes by equally quick even with stops to talk to other hikers heading up the trail. There were even a few other dogs coming up the trail that seemed to enjoy the day. This trail is of course, easy for dogs. Isis has a great time on the way down but we do not stop at the slope out look due to the large group having lunch there. As we make the turn, the snow starts pitting and coating the grounds of the lower trails. I'm reminded of how much I do like this time of year and how much I am looking forward to winter again. At the 4.5 hour mark, we are back at the car. No matter how hard I try to slow down, this is just an easy quick hike for me now. I'm thinking of tacking it on to other hikes at the end of my day on the way home or keeping it for days like this when I just need a true quick hike. Given that I had camped out on Isolation last weekend, a short hike was perfect for us and Tecumseh fit the bill. Coffee on the way home and Isis has a date with the V-E-T tomorrow.
It's a funny feeling that I have these days... Everything is good. Everything is feeling like I am back on track and heading in the right direction. I can pinpoint the exact time I went off track three years ago so, this has been a long time coming. It feels good to know that I made it through and got myself back to where I need to be. I am more truly myself that I ever have been and comfortable on my own two feet. It's amazing how light everything feels when you just stop worrying about impressing everyone and just enjoy your day. As I continue to hike, I'm prepping for my last two winter peaks. I'm hoping to hit a few more big hikes before Winter comes (weather permitting) and of course, each hike just continues to push me to the finish of my Long Trail thru hike. I now have my complete hammock system for shelter (looking forward to training in it come spring/summer), a new water filtration system (Sawyer Mini), and a plan to get the rest of the gear I need. Life just keeps getting better.