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Mount Moosilauke

If you're going to hike Moosilauke, make sure it's a perfect day. I waited for this day. Made sure I had plenty of time and went for it. Gorge Brook to Carriage Road to Snapper Trail, a classic loop. The thing about this year is, since they are rebuilding the lodge, the Road is open and you can drive in to a certain point. The road walk is about a mile to the trails. In the morning, it's pretty solid as temps are low. The trail takes you by the Class of 66 Bunk House (Where I stopped to put on spikes) and then down to the bridge. It was around here that I first ran into Neil L and Maggie. Nice to have familiar faces on trail today. I did well with spikes for a little while. After the second bridge, I switched to snowshoes. The trail is choppy and getting soft. 

It was pretty slow going for me on the Gorge Brook trail. Isis and I were passed by a few people but I really didn't care today. I was on a mission. Once I made it to the Last Sure Water sign at 3300Ft, I knew I was going to at least make the outlook. The memorial rock is completely under the snow still. A sure sign it's been a good winter. After a quick break, Isis gets me moving again up the trail. This section got a lot tougher for me. Thankfully, I had my heel lifts on my snowshoes. Taking it slower, I crept to the first outlook and was greeted by the view I had craved. It's been a while. At this point I realize that a summit is a real possibility for myself today. I'm thrilled.

From here to tree line, the snow is soft and my heel lifts continue to support my climb. Once we break tree line, there are large patches of clear trail. Well, clear of snow but not water. I kept my shoes on knowing that the trail ducks back into the trees briefly before you get a view of the summit. Here, the snow is still soft and deep. once you pop out to the summit view, it's clear again and I took my snowshoes off here. Hoisted my pack on my back and Isis and I made our way across the clear trail and up a brief snow field to the summit at 4802Ft. I was greeted by Neil L who told me "You're back." I had to stop and gather myself a little. Stood there with my hand over my mouth hiding both a grin and the fact that I might cry. What a beautiful day to be both on Moose and above tree line.

I hung around the summit for a while. The wind was low and the sun was warm. I thought about not coming down at all but I knew I'd have to go down eventually. Good thing that the walk on the Carriage Road is one of my favorites. There's patchy snow to start off the summit which soon becomes deeper. I have decided to not wear my shoes or spikes at this point and I'm fine as long as I stay on the monorail. Step off and I'm up to my knee in snow. Walking the ridge, I take in all the views because the snow depth puts you above the trees a lot more. I stopped at the junction to Glen Cliff and South Peak but opted to not go up South today. I treated myself to some Jelly Beans for Easter. We continued to do a partial glissade down the trail breaking occasionally to rest. Reaching the Snapper Trail to the lodge, there's only 1.7miles to it. 

The Snapper Trail is really soft this late in the day. I sink in a little but for the most part, if I am on the  monorail, I'm fine. The trail is fast and we arrive back at the Class of 66 Bunk House. The climb up was tough for me so, we rest in the adirondack chairs. The final push out to the road was also tough in the soft snow but we made it. Now, about that road walk, by now it's a muddy mess. The heat of the day has softened the road and created a lot of mud. Poor Isis had a hard time finding a place to walk that was not muddy. By the time we arrived at the car, she had brown paws. This was a day that I needed. This was the summit that told me... I'm back. 

Earlier this week, I started feeling really good again. I still have some swelling and I still get tired but for the most part, the medication is finally starting to work. I am now 2 days off of Prednisone, which was another mile stone after 3 month, with no major flare after I had my last dose. For those that don't know, Rheumatoid Arthritis affects your hands and feet and all associated joints, swelling to the point that you look like a sausage about to explode or you feel like you are walking on marbles. This swelling leaves your joints immovable and it hurts a lot. The added bonus is that when you sleep, your body makes it a top priority to swell up or out right stiffen up, so that when you wake up, you can't move either. Rest makes this disease worse and too much exercise can also make it worse. So, you see my issue... How much is too much? Gradually building my miles and the weight of my pack is paying off and today I learned that my water intake has everything to do with my swelling up on a hike so, it looks like maybe my 3L bladder for the LT. I'm feeling stronger and only on one medication (I'll be on it for years, I hope), I am well on my way to finishing the Long Trail. The trails will get worse as they melt and this will be an added challenge but I am hopeful that I can continue to build on todays success. I'm excited for what is to come and I REALLY need to hit the LT.  Thanks for the support and I hope to see you out on the trails.

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