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Mount Willard

All I wanted to do this week was climb to the top of a mountain. Any mountain at this point as I have been dealing with something that keeps me down. I had been thinking of Mount Willard... 2,865Ft and a 1.6mile trail. Small compared to what I usually hike. But small enough I might be able to summit.

It's a Saturday and I left my house a little after 8am. So much later than I usually leave to hike. But this is not a long hike at all so, after a cup of coffee and making myself one for the road, I loaded the car and headed for The Whites. I knew it would be crowded today since it is Saturday and as I thought, I'm parking on 302... Both the Depot, and the Highland Center are packed. It's .1 to the junction after the cross of the tracks and then we head up the Mt. Willard trail. So far, the trail itself is uncrowded but I assumed that everyone was already up there. Isis on the other hand was busy smelling markers for every dog that has hiked before her. 

The trail is super packed. No snowshoes needed. A nice solid monorail to walk on. I wore my hillsound microspikes. Once the trail begins to climb the bulk of the elevation gain, I begin to run into people. Lots of people. Large groups and a few dogs too. Everyone was pretty happy. I pulled to the side for the larger groups and distracted Isis from a few dogs and everyones hiking poles. For the most part it worked. I will say one thing, I timed it pretty well. Once I made it to the summit, I was pretty much alone. There was one couple up there with their dog and I briefly lost it as I looked at the view. I explained to them my situation and they celebrated with me. It has been a long time since I saw a view from a summit. They wished me well and luck and left me to "take it all in". 

Isis and myself were able to walk a good portion of the ledge that served as the summit. The view out to 302 was great as always. It's a cold day today and that froze my phone but, I had my camera as a back up for pictures. Isis also enjoyed the view and very calmly sat and looked out at one point. When she began to get cold, we headed back down. More large groups were on their way up and I was thankful my little trail partner knew when to get moving off the summit. The walk down is quick on the solid trail. This is a busy trail to a popular view behind the Highland Center so, this trail is always well maintained and packed down. Unless I decide to hike this one right after a storm, chances of needing anything more than microspikes is nil. Only one "water crossing" with a decent ice bridge over it. Easy trail for dogs too. 1.6 miles up takes no time at all. Except that it took me a little longer than I usually hike. A day well worth the 3 hour drive. Even for the 2.5 hour hike and 3 hour drive back. I was happy to feel the cold air on my face and enjoy the trails that I love so much. 

This thing that I have right now, it needs a name. It needs a name so that I know what I am fighting and so I know how I'm going to fight it. The original plan was to not see a doctor until April and that would be unacceptable as I am still planning to hike the Long Trail in the beginning of June. So, after pitching a fit, I got an appointment to see a rheumatologist on the 24th of this month. Heck of a way to start the new year but once I get a name, I can get to fighting. I can accept an over use injury, although this has been going on for a long time so, I'm inclined to think that it's something else. My other choices are pretty mild to I really don't want that, kind of things. So, I'd settle for something in the middle if I can't have a mild condition. Anything to keep doing what I love and my doctor swears that I can keep doing what I love. You see, right now, on a good day I have 80% use of one hand and close to 10% of the other, until I get moving and that is difficult some mornings. My hands trade off after a few days so, I've pretty much been compensating for one or the other when I can use one over the other. I'm seriously tired which makes it hard to hit the trail at day break and stay up past 9pm (Not like me at all), 23 miles a day is out for me right now, as is above tree line in the extreme cold. Without use of my hands fully, and how susceptible I am to cold at this point, I am a liability to myself and anyone I would hike with on more difficult hikes. I'm more effected by the cold than I ever have been and my fingers have been a rainbow of white, blue, and red... Depends on the temps and my gloves. This of course makes me frustrated since I love winter hiking so much but I cannot shake the cold right now if I get chilled too much and blue fingers are not that attractive. Not to mention the lack of movement kind of pisses me off and freaks me out at the same time. What ever it is, it's in my hands, knees, and feet... But the knees and feet seem to straighten out after I get moving. The hands take a lot longer. I've developed potty mouth from the pain too... There's a laundry list of symptoms again that I am keeping track of for this new doctor. Ahhh, the wonders of research as I try and figure out how I can keep going by paying attention to myself before during and after a hike, day of work, or walking the dog around the neighborhood... I say all this not to trigger arm chair diagnosis (I've googled enough to scare myself and believe me I stopped when Cancer was brought up. It's not Lyme.. I am tested for that religiously.), or to elicit advise, but I do say all this to illustrate what I have been dealing with daily as it has been going on since... June (Sorry, I ignore things until I can't. It started with innocent tingling fingers). Bottom line, what ever this is, I will find a way to get a head of it and continue hiking. I hope that you will continue to follow along on both he fight and the journey.

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