Fair warning... I've been cooped up with Viral Laryngitis this week so, this hike was chalk full of thoughts since well... I still can't talk. :) But as usual, I will do my best to provide trail conditions and my usual life musing. Read what you want and take the rest with a grain of sea salt and some chocolate.
I chose the mighty little Tecumseh for no other reason than the fact that I have not been on a 4K since like... August ( I know it was Moose)? And... being "sick" I wanted to start off small and get my self out of the house and away from the remnants of Murica saying "Hold my beer and watch this...". Tecumseh is one that I could turn back on without too much agony, if I needed too. Today was a beautiful day and I thought I was leaving my house late but we made it to the ski resort (Waterville Valley) by 8am... And we were off. I'll note here that the large parking lot 1 at the trail head had only 2 other cars plus mine... It was a quiet morning to start which is good since I can't talk. There was a group of 4 slow movers behind us as we climbed. The trail down low is well groomed. Someone has done a tone of work with blow downs and brushing. The first two water crossings are flowing but easy to hop. The slow group of 4 caught up to us and I let them pass. Isis does better bringing up the rear anyway... She likes to stop for everyone, even if she doesn't like a lot of people. But we leap frog in front of them later... It takes us no time to get to the 3rd water crossing and the 1.2 mile view point and the ski trail. The eroding trail still evident in this area and there is some mud and water. But not so bad that it's a mess (Like Vermud mess)... Yet.
Of course, after the 1.2 mile view, there is the climb... Up the side of the ski trail. Slow and steady, we head up and break when we need to. No sign of ice or snow as we climb. I'm wearing my new Merrell Fluorescein Shell 8 boots... A little hot for today but totally water proof and the tread is good. So far also, no hot spots or blisters. Climbing up, there is more stone work... Tecumseh is like a stair master now... I kinda like it but now it's also really easy. That's my opinion, some might still find it tough. An older gentleman passed us and I thought I'd at least see him at the summit... No sign of the group of 4 yet either. Once we crest that climb, we are on to my favorite little ridge... I just love how the light and moss play around with each other.
It's really not long from here to the summit. another short climb which can get pretty steep in winter, at the junction, I always go left... And you're basically there. Isis and I arrived about the same time as a group of 3 guys that must have come up form the Tripoli Rd side because they never passed us and Isis surely would have stopped dead to wait for them if she heard them. We all settled and Isis was a perfect lady at the summit. She settled nicely and didn't bother anyone. I broke out the cheese (and a Prednisone for me) and she didn't try to eat my hand either ( I will fight anyone for cheese and so will she). I was so impressed with my little 4 year old hiking partner. The day is beautiful, low wind and temps are not cold at all. But I really want winter... Guess I'll chase that next weekend. So, the group of guys is chatting it up and me without a voice... I keep talking anyway and try to fill them on on surrounding peaks and history of the summit clearing... I'm not sure if they truly understood my whispers... Or if they were just humoring me. They left and I had the summit to myself for a little while. Isis and I tried to do photos but as usual, she's playing uncooperative. I just didn't want to head down just yet. The day was so nice and I wanted to stay as long as I could.. I'm also a pretty good judge of when to bail too.
Today, I'm also using my new ULA Catalyst. I am so impressed with this pack already and it's not even fully packed for a long distance hike (yet). Plenty of room for my winter gear and I haven't even filled that up yet either (It's in the 50's today). Super light and comfortable on my back. I could not be more happy with the investment. I'll be working with it until I leave for the Long Trail in 2017. The group of 4 suddenly appeared as I was packing up and I was glad I stuck around. The older gentleman in the group was celebrating his 48th! Again, I explain my voice but keep talking... Will I even learn or recover?? We all had a nice chat and I took some pictures for them so they can remember this day. I think Tecumseh is an ideal 48th since it's small and easy to hike for a lot of people. I truly enjoy this mountain. But it's time to get going... As we head down, the crowd is arriving.
Going down is always easy and with all the rock stairs, it's even easier. We must have pulled over for easily 75 people heading up (one large group of students mostly boosted the numbers)... A lot of dogs (some Isis liked and some she did not). I was glad that I left when I did as I tried to imagine that little summit as standing room only. I try and explain myself to the hoards as I am coming down, in hopes that I can just keep going but I end up stopping to talk... I'm going to have to NOT talk tomorrow... At all. The trail is dry for the most part and we make a quick down to the view point. Where there is... More people. More talking and well, it's really nice. People with similar interests coming together and talking like old friends even though we may never see each other again. Lots of questions today about hiking the ski trail down... Yuck, tall grass to hide ankle breakers and pot holes without snow... Just say no. The lower trails are also easy to hike out on and the crowd thins as we get back to the trail head. Easy peasey day for a hike to get me out of the house. I'm sure Isis appreciated the elevation gain from our more flat hikes on the AT... She loves to jump on anything she can and loves to jump up rocks to get to the summit. It really gives her a chance to stretch out. The parking area is FULL when we get back. That group of students didn't come in a bus but I swear everyone had their own car (How's that carbon footprint now?)... I am struck by the crowd volume and again, happy I left the summit when I did. A day well spent even if it spent what little voice I had.... Worth it!
Which way to go??? I've put aside the AT until warmer weather and longer days... But the Whites are still crowded. Remember, I am use to hiking where the crowd is not... On the AT, I've seen at most 5 people when I hike (off season for Thru's). I was so taken by the crowd today and it makes me wonder if it will thin out for Winter? Lots of people are gearing up for the season... Myself included. The crowd has shifted in the Whites too and it felt strange to be back there today. No doubt, I have seen a difference between the 4K trails and the more Long Distance trails I have been hiking... Remember I told you to take everything here with a grain of sea salt and chocolate... Everyone here seems so... Pretty... Lots of perfumes danced by my nose ( I can smell, I just can't talk) and when did make-up become hiking gear? I was concerned for leaving my chap stick at home and lucky I brushed my teeth that early in the morning... No shower or deodorant (what's the point, I'm sweating on this hike anyway) and I ran a comb through my hair (sometimes it's just my fingers)... I don't know, I kinda missed the hiker stench of a group of us that had not showered for a week... Sigh, guess I'll hike my own hike. It's just changed in the 6 years since I started hiking, which was born of illness recover, today I am also struck by the fact that I really know how to get sick... I don't just get Laryngitis, I get Viral Laryngitis. So special... Over a week without a voice and counting and thank goodness I am not in radio anymore or I'd be out of a job. BUT the good thing is that I've been in some degree of pain in my joints since like July... I only recently was able to make a full fist and I owe that to the Prednisone. I was pain free hiking today which made me really happy. Maybe that is what has thrown me off my game this year... Long ass virus that exploded to intolerable recently. I'm on the mend... Still have that Hashimoto's Disease (as always) but at least I think that one is still at bay too... I'll keep putting one foot in front of the other... I just don't know where next. But I do know that I want to chase winter next weekend. :)