It's Mount Hale... Not very exciting but then again, it's going to be grey and overcast today. Mount Hale has no view and no above tree line... PERFECT. Oh, and there's a 2.5 mile road walk for those that go by way of the Hale Brook Trail instead of the Fire Wardens Trail. Since my solo bushwhacking skills are not very reliable, I'm walking the road. So, it's 2.5 miles to the actual trail head this morning. There's a light covering of snow and ice but I am in my bare boots and doing just fine. Lil' Nugget and I walk in and enjoy it. It goes by very quickly and we are at the trail head in an hour.
After a short break, we begin our ascent of the Hale Brook Trail and having been here before, I am looking for landmarks and variations in the trail. It's one of those trails that has a gradual start and then climbs for a while. It's pretty solid right now with ice under a thin layer of snow still. Spikes are put on and I'm doing just fine. It's warm today for being overcast so, my hat and gloves are off and on. The water crossings are solid and that's a welcome trail feature. Lil' Nugget and myself continue to climb and break for treats, water, and food. I'm not in a huge hurry today and it seems as though we are the only ones out today. Sunday is not a very popular day for hiking sometimes. There are sections of the trail that are a little steep and icy with evidence of butt sledding so, it's difficult to get up these sections. I know how to get down them though. Lil' Nugget slows to a stop and we are eventually greeted by (we would later find out) Gypsy Hiker and Zoey (pooch). Words were spoken from Lil' Nugget and we were on our way again. Shortly after this meeting, the trail thins out to the size of a balance beam and there's a bit of a drop off that would surely be a painful slide. My footing is awkward and my my body is at a bad angle. I lean on a tree and grab a pole since there was no taking my pack off. This was fun and slightly awkward, but it helped out with my balance greatly. We crossed the final crossing with no water issues and finally had the trail widen out.
Once past this section, I took a break to catch my breath and then pressed to the summit. I had estimated that it would be about a 2 hour climb from the base. As Lil' Nugget and I walked on, the rescue helicopter was buzzing overhead. No one was injured but they were probably training. Gotta love SAR! This final push to the summit takes me a little while as I'm stopping and starting. Through the switchbacks, we finally push up and see the "tunnel" to the opening for the summit. We're almost there.
Everyone is up at the summit still and we have a nice chat. Lil' Nugget gets to be around Zoey and even though she's a little moody, the interaction in my eyes was positive. I was grateful to these two ladies for sticking around and not reacting to Lil' Nuggets big show. Once they head back down, we take the time to walk around the summit. I think I spot the entrance to the Fire Wardens trail. I'll take it some day when I'm feeling a little more confident in my Whack skills. Lil' Nugget gets fed and the pictures get taken then she decides it's time to go. It was 2 hours to the summit and as we head down, I know that I'll have some challenges. I was right... The thin section was a slow challenge with my poles to give balance and then the icy sections that have been warn smooth were of course butt sledded. I didn't really want to do this as I ended up ripping my pants yet again... I'm forever sewing these things. BUT, it only took us an hour to get back to the trail head which left the 2.5 mile road walk back. To my surprise, there were people on their way in. Then again, it's only noon time too. We make it back to the car in another hour which is not bad at all on tired feet. Changed out of my hiking clothes and headed down the road to coffee and then to home for more junk food and football for the Super Bowl (Minus the Pat's). A great day on some easy trails on this very mild winter season.
There's something to be said for being off of a List. I'm hitting all those summits that I have not hit in a long time. Funny but they seem so much easier now. It's nice to just hike... No worries. No cares. Just some time out in the woods with my best trail partner and it's great to be meeting so many different hikers. This winter has no doubt been mild and that really contributed to my being able to finish my last list and continue on. My hat's off to those that accomplished things last winter season... That was a tough one I will not soon forget. Continuing on now and hiking myself back to the LT come this July for the next big finish. I'm looking forward to a few more hikes in snow with hopefully some good snowy walks while the flakes fall and then for the greener times ahead. It turns out that today, 5 years ago, I canceled my last doctors appointment after a long road to try and get a medical cure for my thyroid and took my health into my own hands. I was done seeking out a cure and ready to manage myself... This is how I discovered that proper nutrition, with a little help from being gluten, refined white sugar, and caffeine along with exercise really does reverse many of my symptoms. 5 years ago, when I started, I had not started hiking seriously yet but as I look back, it's amazing how much it has helped me feel better. I would not trade it for anything and this is why I will always make time for a hike.