Earlier in the week, I surprised myself when I thought, maybe I'll do a 4K this weekend. I have limited time right now with family obligations so, I have put the AT on hold. With just 31 miles to go, I can finish New Hampshire with 2 over nights. So, I figured, why not a 4K? I have not been on one in months so, yeah... I'll get to why not in a minute.
Mount Garfield is not one that I usually think about visiting. But for some reason, it popped into my head. The great thing about summer time is that you don't have to get up before the sun rises to go up north. There is plenty of day light. So, we got to the trail head around 8:30am. There were a lot of cars already in the parking area and we had to park on the side of the road. Here it seems OK considering it's not a major highway (Gale River Loop Rd). But elsewhere in the White Mountain region, cars are parked for miles on the highway.... I don't think this is right. Nor would I like those miles added to an already long day. Not to mention the environmental impact of all those people on the trails. But back to Mount Garfield...
I debated briefly about going elsewhere but in my heart, I know that it's the busy season and it's like this everywhere. So, Isis and I head up the trail. It's a lot easier than I remember. Seems to be a lot more eroded from use and recent rains too. I'm not struggling nearly as bad as I use to and Isis is moving pretty good. It seems like maybe the trail won't be so busy after all.
We cross the water crossings with no issues. My feet stay dry rock hopping and Isis just walks on through the water or I carry her. She hears the people behind us before I even see them and begins to slow down and wait. Most everyone passes by us and most everyone has at least one dog in their party. That's a lot of people and a lot of dogs. I'm over the my dog doesn't get along well with other dogs phase. Isis just barks a little and settles down... Usually. We all have a right to be here today. We get going up some incline and deal with some mud. Even the mud is not bothering us today.. We're now pros at mud hiking.
I had a nice chat with an older gentleman who was taking his time up the trail. Both of us mentioned that we thought it was a crowded day but that we would give it a try. He moved on up ahead after a little while and I stopped to give Isis some treats. Once we tried to get moving again, she wanted no part of it. The only way she was going was down and she barely stopped until we ran into a few other hikers that we knew. There were more people pouring up the trails as we were heading out for the day. All in all, I think Isis made the right call. The summit would probably have been way over crowded and over stimulating for the both of us.
We got back to the car after dealing with another dog that was running all over the parking area, almost getting hit by two other cars that were trying to enter the parking area, with an owner who was not paying attention at all. I'd really had my fill at that point and explained to the inattentive owner that dogs are either leashed or under voice command. He finally called his dog who was heading for the highway at this point and I drove away. A very short hike today but a good day for a walk in the woods.
This is where the growth is and sometimes you have to step back into the past to realize that you need to keep moving forward. I did my time on the 4K's... 259 summits and 45% of what is called the Grid for me and 188 summits and 33% for Isis. That's nothing to sneeze at really. I stopped because it was not my goal. It's not my thing (right now). I'm not going to toss all that work away though. Maybe some day, those 4K peaks will be calling again. But right now, I think I'm walking the AT. Sure, it's a little busy up this way right now and the bubble is fast approaching the Whites. But I only have 31 miles left and probably by the time it reaches me, I'll be heading away from it south bound in Massachusetts. Those White Mountain 4K's in my opinion are way to over populated and it's almost trendy to "do the 48". So, I will leave that up the peak bagging crowd. I am proud to say that I've been there and done that a few times over but the growth is in moving forward. The growth is in realizing what makes you get up and get moving. What makes your heart smile when you think of your next big accomplishment... For me, since finishing the Long Trail, it's the AT now. I've got many miles left to cover in New England and beyond.
If you have not checked it out yet, please give a watch to my Long Trail journey here: