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19 Mile Skate Rink to Arethusa Falls

Carter Dome... The last time I was there was July of last year so, I figured I was finally ready to head back (This is not a favorite area but one I'd like to continue hiking). 19 Mile Brook Trail has had some work done to improve it so, I was looking forward to seeing what was done. It was a little before 9am when we got on trail and found... Ice everywhere. I'm game to give it a try since it doesn't seem to bad to begin with but the trail was simply over taken by thick flow ice on a narrow trail base. I'm not a fan of ice to begin with even in spikes and if I have to switch to crampons, my dog should not be hiking with me. I'm not a fan of having my dog slip and slide on ice while I remain somewhat stable... I stop to evaluate and turn back about a half mile in. It's just not my idea of a fun hike today. We pass a group of hikers on their way in and regardless of ego, I feel that I made the best decision for myself and my dog... On to something a little lower on the map. I want to check out Arethusa Falls down in Crawford Notch as I have never been. 

19 Mile Brook Trail starts out tame... We try it. 

It builds from here and I'm no longer comfortable hiking. We turn back.

Bridge to Arethusa Falls

Once we arrive at the parking area for Arethusa Falls in Crawford Notch after driving down from the 19 Mile Brook Trail Head in Pinkham Notch, I quickly realized that layers are no longer necessary... Sure, it's the end of February, I'll take my coat off... No gloves. No hat. Winter has left the area. This is a pretty touristy area too and I'm still prepped for a 4K hike. I set out up a trail with more snow on it but it's still pretty slick. There's quite a few groups milling around. Some in shorts, some in sneakers, some in microspikes... Quite the mixture of experiences. All making their best effort to hike to the falls. There's also quite a few dogs out and about today too. Everyone is tolerating each other well. The woods are nice and warm. The sun is out and the trail is a little icy but I am able to hike it slowly and carefully. I use one of my poles for support on some steeper sections. There are 2 bridges to cross prior to getting to the falls. One is a little better than the other and both are still crossable. The trail thins out a bit and with a few more careful steps, I start heading down towards the falls.

I see someone standing out on the ice bridge at the base of the falls and then my eyes are dragged upwards tracing the size of the massive falls. I can hear the water rushing under the ice and I am hesitant to head out there. The other hiker comes back to the trail and we have a nice chat about the lack of season, how much the ski areas are loosing in revenue, and doing all the things that we want to do (as older hikers, this seems to be a theme for me now). Isis has some treats and then plays around at my feet and gives the gentleman a good laugh. After he heads back up the trail, Isis and I carefully make our way out on the ice bridges. I followed the same path that he did and things seemed solid for us. Standing there and looking up at the falls, I felt so small in the face of everything. Hearing the water rushing under us was making me a little uneasy but I stayed long enough to get a good look around. We were joined by a couple and two dogs that we had passed on our way in. A Golden and a Springer Spaniel. As they made their way on different ice bridges than we took, I watched the golden break through and get his hind end soaked. His owner was lucky that he was not dragged in as well but because of the leash, he was able to safely get his dog out of the water. I watched to make sure that all was well and then made my way back to the car. Such a warm day today. All my usual February layers are no good in these 50+ degree temps. Since I am now officially over dressed, I head for coffee and home... Shoulder season has arrived. 

Every year at the end of February and into March, I have a tough time with a lot of turn backs and a lot of frustration on the trails. The transitions between seasons really throws me off. It's as if I am new to hiking all over again. I'd like to think that I have some experience after hiking in New England for almost 5 years now. I'm a careful hiker, especially when it comes to hiking with my dog so, airing on the side of caution is better for us. Being a solo hiker as well, I listen to my gut a lot more and when nothing is adding up to me, I go to plan B... It's not about getting the summits for me anymore so, letting Carter Dome go today was effortless. It will be there another day and in better conditions. Hiking now has become about how much I can see and how much I can experience safely with my best trail partner. I don't have to be the fastest or the strongest. I don't have to be the first to the summit. I have nothing to prove to anyone except myself. I just have to get out to enjoy the day which can be pretty amazing no matter if you are going up a 4K peak or just to see some frozen falls. It's amazing what the world looks like when you slow down and look around... It's absolutely beautiful.

The sign of a good hike... She's tired out.  

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