Heading up North was not to be this weekend. I also could not leave Isis at home so, Monadnock was out (No dogs allowed)... Watatic was the goal. Given the below zero temps, this was probably a good choice. 1.1 miles up to the summit, makes it a decent hike for both of us. I started on the Wapack Trail off of 119, just over the border in Massachusetts. Time was no worry due to the short duration but I did pack just like every other hike... Full gear, Isis wore her coat due to the temps, and I even tossed in a tuna packet since you just never know.
The Wapack Trail is decent here. It's well traveled and given the recent melt, even the 2 inches of snow we got was not a factor. It's still cold down here in Southern New Hampshire, still a negative wind chill, so the trail is solid. I bare booted with the intention of using spikes on the way down considering there was some ice on the trail. The elevation is only 1832 Feet but even that low, there are still a few steep sections. Isis and I navigate the trail pretty easily. To start there is some open water but there are planks to walk on. Everything else is frozen solid as you head up. There are a number of dogs out today and the park requests that you have your dog on a short lead (6 feet). All dogs today are well behaved and seem to be handling the cold temps. There are a few openings to catch views along the way looking out into the blue skies and surrounding towns. I've taken my gloves off to let my hands breath a bit even though I know it's super cold out (my hands heat up fast due to swelling). Isis and I stopped for a snack at one point and she ate, I did not. There must have been 3 other dogs ahead of us but when we came out to the summit, there was no one around.
I could feel the mix of the wind and the sun on my face as I stopped at the summit marker for pictures and it felt so good! It took me forever to get Isis to look even remotely in my direction. It's such a good day to be out and as it turns out everything negative just melts away at the summit. The view is hazy in every direction but you can see for miles around. Isis decided that she was not done yet and took me over to another summit about .1 miles away. Cut her own trail to it and everything (the snow was not deep). But, the wind was too much over there so, we didn't stay too long. We headed back to Watatic by way of the actual trail this time and ended up having a decent conversation with the owner of a nice looking border collie mix. Both dogs behaved as we talked hiking and conditions. On the way back to the car we ran into Rachel and Susan and had a nice chat with them as well. Always nice to run into friendly people on the trails. Isis as usual was the center of attention. I never did put on my spikes to get down but then again, I felt pretty solid on the trail so they were not needed. The parking area was full with one car out on the road. I changed and as I headed off for coffee, told them to take my spot (lucky for me they had not headed up the trail yet). I was so grateful to get out today and for the size and length of the hike got a good work out. Not to mention I am now looking forward to next weekend.
Special note about these conditions... They will mean nothing after Tuesday/Wednesday of this week. Break out those snow shoes again people! Isis and I are looking forward to hopefully another 4K next weekend. Wish us luck!
Winter just keeps hanging on... We had a decent warm up and then another deep freeze this weekend. That makes two weekends in a row. I am always hesitant to take Isis out in anything below a -20 wind chill, so we have been holding back. I had originally wanted to hike Waumbek for the 7.2 miles round trip but, the -40 wind chills had me backing off. The Waumbek hike would have increased my mileage as I continue to bring my Rheumatoid Arthritis under control (I'm shooting be be back up to 12 miles in a day before June). A month and a half after my diagnosis, the meds have their ups and downs, I have great days and really crappy days with my swelling, pain, fatigue, and depression. This disease is not like the wear and tear of Osteoarthritis, you hands and feet swell up like balloons and become immovable. As opposed to Osteo where the joints wear out due to use. The depression experienced will make anyone want to stay in bed or sit on their butt all day. And for me, the depression is the hardest part. So, as people can imagine, with my big backpacking trip to finish the Long Trial on the horizon (June 3rd 2017), I am anxious to get hiking and get my mileage up there and the weather keeping me down for 3 weeks exacerbated my depression. It was tough enough on me with the weather making it even tougher. I could not win. So, today it was really important that I get moving. I was thinking of Monadnock given it's 3165 feet for the same mileage... But I could not take Isis to Monadnock (No dogs allowed). And when she looks at me while she's sitting by the door to garage, I can't not take her with me. As it turned out, Watatic was perfect. Got me out and moving, lifted my spirits, exercised Isis, and is making me look forward to next weekend. If there is one thing that I have learned since my diagnosis (besides what a pain in the ass it is), it's that I need people to kick me in the butt and tell me to get moving... No pity for me. No telling me to slow down, sit down, or quit. Nope... I need motivation. And I also need the weather to cooperate. Big snow storm this week will put the snow shoes back on my feet for next weekend.