A smile shows just how good life is... Amazing how much has changed but the one thing remains the same and that is the mountains. Last night, I was going to head to Mount Whiteface and Mount Passaconaway. My issue was that I didn't want to hit the ledges with Lil' Nugget and that would put the mileage over 14 miles. Normally, this would not be a big issue except that the sun goes down earlier which means I would have to get up earlier. I chose the Osceola peaks as an understudy of sorts. I had not been there since last July so, why not? It's a little closer to so, I slept in and left after 6am. Something I have learned about myself is that I don't need to get up so early for a hike below 10 miles. We hit the Mount Osceola trail around 8:30am for a late start.
The trail started out in fall conditions and who put all these rocks in the way?? Seriously, there are a lot of them to navigate. I'm kidding, this is my 4th visit to these peaks and I know full well what I am in for. Rocks, slabs, ice, snow, and maybe some wind. Lil' Nugget would have some water to drink as some of the seeps were bound to be unfrozen. It was warmish so, the hat and gloves came off and even then I was still warm but I dared not remove any other layers. We began to encounter snow which built as we climbed. Lil' Nugget had a great time with the sticks and the voles on the trail. I was just happy to be out in the fresh air. I have been dreaming of longer trip though... Maybe soon?
At a certain point on the trail, the flow ice took over and my microspikes came on. There are several sections where you walk low on slabs that are covered in ice. The lower ones are still soft thankfully and these were followed by some flat sections. As we continued to climb, I heard the wind pick up and die down and turning to push on to the summit of Mt. Osceola, the flow ice was solid and I probably jinxed myself because I thought, "Yep, I'm gonna fall on my way back... It's inevitable." Lil' Nugget was also trying to find her footing too. Seems we both need to get our winter feet under us for the coming season. Slow going, we made our way to the flat walk to the summit ledge and were welcomed with views and low winds. We took pictures and I took in the sights.
You could see clearly for miles and miles in all directions. I took several deep breaths of thanks and LIl' Nugget and I had a snack before making the mile walk to East Osceola. It's a dip down with a ridge first and the wind usually howls through this section. Not bad today. Then it's a steep down with another flat section followed by... The Chimney. Lil' Nugget and I usually take the By Pass as it is easier to navigate for a dog (less steep but still steep) and if you know it, picture heading down with a pup on a leash. We do it very well and it takes us no time. I catch my breath and we continue to head over to East Osceola. The snow is pretty on this section and it's a little deeper as usual. I can remember falling in to my calfs and then having to switch to snowshoes on one hike (not this one). Today the snow is just about 3 inches deepest in places. As we hike, we encounter a few hikers here and there. It's cold but only if you stop for an extended amount of time. I did stop in the Col to eat my Epic bar (real name too). It's this kind of meat bar (Soft Jerky) with cranberries. Mine was bison which had a good deal of protein and calories. Just what I needed. Sounds gross but really, it's good. Lil' Nugget was upset that she got none however. As we got moving over the next rise before the final push, we met up with Renee and Mike. Very nice to put voices with the names and faces. Lil' Nugget loved the attention even with all the gloves and movement. She always likes to meet people and we always like to talk for a bit. Everyone got moving before we got too chilled. This final up to East Osceola is a mix of big and small rocks and roots. I can't wait until it all fills in with snow so, it's easier to travel. We arrived at East Osceola and it was before noon.
We walked down the trail for the view which was not too bad but we did not stay too long. Back at the summit, we had some cheese and I had some salami. Then we prepared to head back. The good thing about retracing our steps is that I can pick out land marks and at a certain point, it is all down hill. The bad part, Lil' Nugget does better on loops. There are quite a few stops and starts. We head back towards the chimney and I had again thought that maybe I'll take that back up but again looking at it and knowing how Lil' Nugget moves, I changed my mind. The by pass it was...
We continued to climb over the two rises, walked the short ridge and up the last push back to Mount Osceola. There was a crowd of students and other hikers up there on what I would still consider a marginal day. Everyone was happy and everyone kept moving. As we headed back to the flow ice, the student group seemed to be sharing microspikes. I called them one spikers for the fact that many had just one set of spikes on one shoe and bareboot on the other. Can make for a slow descend. Lil' Nugget and I were moving great until I took one awkward step and went butt over head and slid. My first thought was, "Is anything broken? No." Then I thought "Am I bleeding? No. OK, did anyone see? No. Perfect." Got up and dusted off. We continued and would pass a few more sets of hikers. As we descended back into fall, it became hot again and eventually the spikes came off. My thoughts were preoccupied with Christmas for some reason which was better than months past and all the other thoughts I would get preoccupied with. Oh, and add a healthy dash of thoughts for the LT next year. I was all set and ready for coffee on my way home. Lil' Nugget and I landed at the parking lot a little after 2pm. Ready for another week and looking forward to next weekend. Rejuvenated!