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Kinsman Ridge Trail (AT) from Route 112 to Mt. Wolf

I always like it when I get my responsibilities done and I'm able to go hiking... This should have been a zero weekend but since there's going to be rain tomorrow and then some rain next weekend fowling up some of my long weekend plans, I decided to torture... I mean tackle the other end of the Kinsman Ridge Trail. The AT from 112 (Beaver Brook) to what I had planned as the Reel Brook Trail Junction.  I figured since I did over 14 miles last weekend, I can do a little over 10 this weekend... There's one issue though. The AT from this end has a ton of elevation gain and then a bunch of PUDS. 

The first .6 up from the highway is really steep and I take my time. Lucky the trail is pretty dry and only leaf covered. It's fatiguing to say the least and I can only imagine hiking up with a full Thruhiker pack (mine is actually pretty close). I am determined at this point to reach my original goal. It would set me up for another section easily for next weekend. Once Isis and I got through the section of UP trail, it evened out nicely and we enjoyed bog bridges, water, mud... More mud, and some decent sections of trail to travel on. Now in the 2.7 mile section that would take us to the junction of the Gordon Pond Trail, we actually ran into another day hiker here. He was cruisin' as we were taking our time. This section dips into a ravine of sorts and it reminded me of the MSGT trail that I was on 3 weeks ago... Sort of open woods with a small brook. Going down into this was not so bad but I did take note of this for the return trip. It would be our last ridiculous up on the way home.

We continued on this 2.7 miles stretch dealing with some rocks, more mud, water on the trail, and more ups and downs. I pretty much resigned myself to get dirty. As did Isis since she no longer was being careful about the mud or the water crossings. There's a few tricky turns on the rocks that we navigated slowly and managed to get through them. I think I tripped myself up a few times and almost face planted into some mud a few more times than I'd like too. I kept thinking of last weekend and hiking over 14 miles... But those miles were FLAT miles. I think it was in this section that I decided to just call it at Mt. Wolf but I wanted to wait and see. This is a rugged trail and I try to think of my fatigue level on the way back to the car. Being solo again, I have to do out and backs... Which means I hike a section twice. No big deal but it will make this a challenge for myself. We run back into the day hiker and he explains how wet the trail is to Gordon Pond. Told me to leave Mt. Wolf for another day... I don't think he realized they were two separate trails. Both probably just as wet too. Isis and I pressed on through some more PUDs and made it to the Gordon Pond Junction.... It would be 3.3 to my intended end of Reeel Brook Junction if I decide to go that far. But my legs are getting tired from the rocks we've been climbing on.

As we made the approach to the spur trail for Mt. Wolf, I encountered some ice... Easy to get around but if it had kept building, I most certainly would have reconsidered continuing. It's been really quiet on the trail today and in spite of the difficulty, I am feeling good. Isis can always tell when we are in the final push for something she keeps me going as we pop out onto a rock... Reminiscent of Middle Tripyramid except this is Mt. Wolf. It use to be on the 52 With a View List but the view is diminishing as the trees grow... I thought it still had a decent view as I could see Franconia Ridge, Cannon, and some of the surrounding peaks. I sat for a while and gave Isis some snacks. I pulled out the map and confirmed my thoughts.... I'm not going down in elevation and then climbing back up again but still I think of my over all plan and think maybe, even though there's just way to much of that too look forward to on the way back to the car.

We were joined by a red liner who goes by Grouse King. He was nice company for a little while as we swapped stories. He confirmed further for me what I wanted to do about my end point. Reel Brook is down about 1000 feet. NOT going down to climb again. We had a unanimous opinion of the KRT... Not a fan. Isis and I will go back from here. Isis was falling asleep but as soon as I gave the comand to get back on the trail, she snapped up and we started walking bidding Grouse King happy trails.

We kept a pretty good pace on the way back and some of those troublesome sections were not so bad. I slowed the pace down a lot on the down trail sections since Isis would surely pull me over if she was allowed to keep pace. My feet sometimes do not move as fast as her and my eyes do funky things since I wear progressive lenses.... Yeah, I'm now an old hiker. On our way back, we ran into our first 3 Thru Hikers... Spring may be late but the Thru Hikers are moving through early. It did not seem to be a big bubble but my plan is to now keep extra food in my pack as we do our sections. The trail going back down to the highway was BRUTAL on my feet and on my eyes. I found myself swearing under my breath as we tripped and stumbled down the rock stairs. Isis was getting excited when she heard the traffic and knew that we'd be back at the car soon. I must have cursed all the way back to the car and those that were coming off of the Beaver Brook trail probably got a good laugh... I was filthy and scratched up and... HAPPY. This may not have been a stellar miles day but it was definitely worth every step. I'll take 14 flat miles any day but the real challenge is in the varied and rugged trails. 10 miles might as well have been 14 to me. It was time to change and go get my coffee.

I had been thinking to myself this week.... When will I grow up? I am going to be 44 this year, I own my own home and with that all the responsibilities of a home owner and I'd still rather spend my time and money on anything related to hiking. I had to tell myself that if I didn't get my lawn mowed after work one day this week, I'd zero and do my responsibilities on the nice day. Well, I was able to mow the lawn (Which was the length of a small jungle Isis was getting lost in) and that meant I was clear to go up North... Somehow all my other responsibilities can wait (cleaning, laundry, and the domestic things that may never get done). I don't have any children (except the one's that I work with) and maybe that's a good thing as far as how I spend my time in some peoples eyes and this gives me extra time to devote to the things that I want to do. Being single adds to this as well since I don't have to answer to anyone and I can do what I want on the weekends... But all of this is a little bit of a regret in my mind too. My point is... When will I grow up?? Probably never. I want to see as much of this great big world as I can and while it may just take me forever to see the rest of New Hampshire, I am going to continue to try and hike the AT... Short sections at a time for now until I get a vacation to start doing LASH (Long Ass Section Hike) hikes... But first I have to get through my final LASH of the LT. The adventures will continue...

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