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Moose Mountain and Moose Mountain Shelter

A short hike today for 2.5 miles from 3 mile Rd to the Moose Mountain shelter in Hanover/Etna New Hampshire. I figured on spending plenty of time at the summit and at the shelter to make the day of it.  Parking off of 3 Mile road could probably fit 3 cars in the pull off. There is no real steep elevation gain to this hike and you are only going up to 2222 Feet. The summit is only 1.9 miles in from the road. You cross several small streams that seem to be drying up. One provides a really good source of water and the others are too stagnate. At the larger stream, there is a divide and an "island" where someone has set up a camp site complete with fire ring. Isis and I walk rather quickly on the wide trail and come across a few Thru Hikers heading North. A short climb that is not steep brings us quickly up to the summit. 

At the summit, I offered the fresh fruit I was carrying to the Thru Hikers there. One took me up on a nectarine and enjoys it on the spot. We chatted for a bit about the trail and was quickly joined by some section hikers too. More talk about things we have done and places we have seen. Lots of laughter about different aspects of the trail, both good and bad. All I could do was stand and smile at the happiness I felt in that moment. Most were heading over to the shelter and beyond. It would be another quick walk to the shelter (.6 miles away). Down hill slightly on the way to the shelter but the woods are really nice. Isis and I cross a wooded road and climb slightly .1 to the shelter. It's set on a nice grove with the shelter facing a small opening the trees. There's a fire pit and tent platforms. The Thru Hiker's I had hiked over with and the section hikers all convened around the shelter and I left the fruit out for all to enjoy. People got up and got moving at their own pace but the conversations continued around the logistics of planning hikes and exactly how much time we spend looking over maps and planning out days. Soon, I was the only one left and I decided to just chill out there for a while and see if anyone else came by. 

After maybe 20 minutes or so, Isis was getting restless so, I was getting ready to go and Alan showed up. He's a Thru from Colorado who gladly had some cherries from my pack. We talked for about another half hour about Colorado and the differences in terrain. He also had lunch in the process and I found myself missing the days of eating non-stop throughout the day in order to keep moving. Once he left, Isis and I got under way again to head back to the car. No one was on the trail until I got back to the south peak summit. There Isis and I enjoyed the company of Braid and Bunion as well as a third who I forgot his trail name. It was here that I unloaded the rest of my fruit and some drink packets. I gave out my best advise about the White Mountains for them and we all enjoyed some more laughs as well as the sun of the summit. Two South Bounders joined which was good as they had just been through the bulk of the Whites and were able to chat up the other three. Turns out that they have a Shiba Inu at home and missed her terribly. I stayed with them through their lunch and gave them probably the best trail magic I could give... Shiba time. For as much as Isis would participate since Shiba's are notorious snobs. At least this couple understood the attitude. Once Isis got too hot, It was time to seek out the shade and we left them to find our way back to the car. Once more group by the last water crossing and I was all out of trail magic for the day as the last of my drink packets went to them. Isis pulled me across the bridge so there was no time to chat. Maybe it's better that way sometimes. 

Today was a small hike to essentially set me up for one over nighter and then a long four day weekend to finish New Hampshire's AT. On todays hike, I got that feeling. That feeling that I'm so close to finishing something again and I got eager to get going. Today was just a good taste of things to come. The AT holds my heart and it is evident in the conversations I have on trail and with the people I meet. Good people who are encouraging and always happy to sit and chat. I bring fresh fruit with me now on each hike as trail magic for the Thru Hikers and the look on their face when I tell them I have it is priceless. Most are use to getting candy (the liken it to halloween sometimes) or sodas. The fruit is so welcome. The propel fitness water powder is welcome in the humidity as we all sweat out everything we need. But this is more than about trail magic it's about connections with people you've only just met and the feeling of sitting at a shelter in the woods and feeling at home. It's those awkward and funny times you step back on the trail after relieving yourself, only to be startled by another hiker who asks if he caught you at a bad time. You smile and say, You know just peein' and his only response is, cool and he just keeps hiking on. It's the feeling of the sun on your face looking out from a summit. Feelings you can only feel if you are there and immersed in the culture. I spend time just about every night planning hikes and sometimes re-planing a series of hikes and I love it. I've got maps I've read more than books on my shelves and I love that as well. I use to think that I was running away from things when I went to the trail and maybe I was but in the process, I found what truly made my heart sing.

So the plan is that the next available weekend, I'll hike from Dorchester Rd southbound back to Moose Mountain Shelter, spend the night and hike back to the car in the morning. Then I'll do a four day trip from Glen Cliff  to Smart's Mountain and back again and this will complete New Hampshire and my second state on the AT. After this, I'll start chipping away at Massachusetts. There may be a lot more over nights in my future when life allows them so I can get these miles done. Sounds so cut and dry right? But what I'm really doing is designing weekends that I get to walk in the woods with my best trail partner and feel my heart take flight and that is priceless. 

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