Happy 2016! Happy Winter (Finally)! Headed out for Tom, Field, and Wiley. An easy set of triplets to possibly get my mind ready for a bigger set of triplets. But first, before any of this, 2015 had to have it's way with me and put me in a very dark place. OK, well, I did it to myself but what can I say. I'm a fighter and I'll get there... Someday. I got to the Highland Center just as the sun was coming up. I knew that I'd have plenty of day light to play in but I had to convince myself of this. Lil' Nugget is having a blast going up the Avalon Trail from the Depot. She loves the snow and sticks her face in every chance she gets looking for a mouse or a vole. The trail is well packed from the AMC center traffic. This circuit is so well traveled that I leave my snowshoes at home. I also know that I won't be alone on the trails today either.
At the first crossing, it's bridged a little further up so, we take that rather than hop the rocks. I also put my spikes on here for reassurance. We start climbing the trail waiting for my next land mark which is my most favorite crossing in the Whites. It's chilly but I'm able to go without my gloves for now. I'm feeling a little slow this morning but I'm pushing on. There are some open seeps in this section and Lil' Nugget takes a drink when she can. There's also some icy patches to contend with. We arrive at the next crossing and I see that the sky is playing with the color palette nicely. There's some blue skies mixing in too. I take a deep breath and drink it all in.
Continuing to the junction, the trail is still well packed. The snow is falling and it's getting colder. The gloves come on and we take the next section of elevation gain. I'm huffing and puffing just a bit at this point and playing a mental game with myself to keep going. Lil' Nugget is playing with ice and sticks and having a great time still. I break for breathing and food a few times. I'm determined but also considering options as always. My mind is wandering here and there but my eyes continue to scan the landscape which is so beautifully winter today. At the Junction for the A to Z and Avalon Trails, I break again for Lil' Nugget to get some food and decide against my usual route of going up Avalon trail.. I'm heading to Mt. Tom first which means a lot of climbing elevation all day. The snow pack is solid but getting a fresh coat too. Just not enough at this point to warrant anything but spikes. Continuing to climb, the woods are so very quiet and I'm pretty sure that I'm the only one out this way. It's pretty much and up and down trail with some good steep ups and generally very few flatter sections. I take a break when I can to catch my breath and rest. Lil' Nugget is impatient and my mind is thinking of other plans for the day. First I'm hiking just Tom, then I'm hiking to Field... Let's see if I get to Wiley.
The scenery is just breathtaking. As is the elevation gain. I slow my pace which plays with my mood a little. I begin the last push to the Mt. Tom Spur and I hit that stride. That feeling of "I got this" hits me as I stand by the spur sign. It always happens. Once I get up to a ridge or a flatter section, I know that I'll be OK but with the bulk of the elevation gain, I play a deadly mind game that can force me to turn back some days. So, I beat myself this time. Heading up the spur I don't drop my pack and I'm chasing blue skies. It's .6 to the top of Mt. Tom from here and the trail is easy. Everything being covered with snow makes it that way. I can see that the martin has been tramping around... No sign of him today as Lil Nugget keeps him hiding. We break out onto the summit and make our way over to the Cairn and the views. Success. The clouds are swirling but I get some pretty decent views of the surrounding peaks. I have the opportunity to try a new gadget I got for Christmas, a tripod for my phone with a remote button. The only problem is that the signal for the button is not strong enough. I opt for a self timer. The win is starting to pick up so we scoot down the trail again quickly.
Heading to Mount Field on the Wiley Range Trail, I run into Jason, Andrew, and Nate running the trails today. They stop even though I did not want to stop their momentum. Lil' Nugget gets loved up and it's nice to catch up. I could probably never hike at their speed but we are all enjoying the trails today in our own ways. This section going to Field has a gradual gain to start and the snow is falling a little more. Still a consolidated trail I love walking this section because the snow sticks to EVERYTHING. It's such a beautiful day and I am finally past the hump of beating myself up and just enjoying myself. The winds are light today and the ice is minimal on the trail. After a number of breaks for treats and food, we reach the 100 years to Field sign... Time to push up to the summit. Which is where all the people are. I knew I should have gone up Avalon. I would have had more company. It was nice chatting with everyone one on Mt. Field and proving that Little Dogs can be bad ass hikers too.
Finally, on my way to Wiley. It's only 1.4 to the summit from Mount Field so, here... We... Go. This section has a number of steep downs that I'm proud to say I stayed upright on. One scramble section that was not really bad. I'm feeling stronger than when I started the day. The clouds have filled in and the snow is light and fluffy. There's a few sections that I really notice the temperature drop for the day. Forecasts had said this would happen which was one of the reasons to hike today instead of in below zero tomorrow. The good thing with all these ups climbing to Wiley is that they will be downs on the way back. Rounding out the trip, we head up to the summit... No view and a crowd but that's fine. They are nice people and I'm hopeful that the clouds will move. As they cleared out, Lil' Nugget and I had fun with the Gray Jay that were hopping for a hand out. I had brought some black oil sunflower seeds.... They ate them and left my hiker food alone! Even more impressive is that even with the dog, one landed oh so briefly on my hand but did get spooked by the pup. Impressive proof that the Jays CAN eat bird food. Once I was done playing, I saw some great views through clouds and felt that it was a good choice to wait. I was pretty satisfied with the hike over all and happy to be out on Wiley rather than just hiking to Tom. It was getting cold though as in winter, you never stay too long in one place. We began our trip back to the car.
Hiking back to Field, we then take the Avalon trial down to the the junction of the A to Z trail. It's 1.5 miles total and it's steep. Usually with enough snow, you can sled it. Today, there is not enough consistently. But I will say that I got a few runs in on my butt. Mostly because I tumbled down a little and slid. It's kind of impossible for me to not fall on a hike. I'm laughing all the way though and we eventually caught up with everyone from the Wiley summit at the junction. Nice to meet everyone, we waited for a little to let them head down the trail. I fed Lil' nugget and myself to get us back to the car. Not before running into the crowd again changing out of their crampons at my favorite crossing. I landed back at the car at 3pm... Not a bad day for me starting at 7:30a. I was pleased and laughed at all my anxiety for day light. It was time to act on my one thought for the Avalon trail.... Coffee!
2015 really packed in the punches for that last week. I made it through Christmas and 2015 in general feeling pretty good about myself and nearly derailed in a pretty dark hole through New Years. New wheels to get me to the mountains cost me my pride and gave me a sense of "I need to make this right". Trying to regain my footing will be my project this year. I'll still be hiking. Even though I really thought about quitting it all, I realized today that I can't quite something that makes me happy and provides me with an outlet out of my house. My famous phrase is, I'll figure it out... That's just what I'll do with hopefully the trails help. The trail provides and in my case, it's provides me a sense of accomplishment. "I went for a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees"... I swear today, I walked into the woods feeling like a tottering 5 year old and when I came out, I was 43 again and ready to fight.
Now there's the matter of those biggest triplets in the Pemi region... I want them.