Saturday began with a 5:30AM alarm, as I rolled over in the cold, dark stillness and groaned. Nope. I didn’t want to hike. Forget it.
But roll out of bed I did, and soon Michelle arrived to pick me up and drive us to the White Mountains. This drive never fails to impress, especially when coming around the bend into Franconia Notch.
After driving through the notch, we found our way to a dirt road that led to the trail head, and parked. We were hiking Mt Jefferson, 5712 feet, on a 2.5 mile hike beginning at 3000 feet and scrambling over rocks and hills to reach the summit.
It was partly cloudy, but the air was fresh and cool and the leaves were bright. We began our hike in good spirits, walking through mossy forests and up a steady but manageable incline. Then we reached the misty treeline and the real hike started. We began a steep ascent that did not relent until we reached the ‘caps’ (a series of rocky ridges that we scrambled over before the real summit loomed before us in the fog). My legs screamed and ached, and a few times I stopped and told Michelle to keep going without me. (SUCH a drama queen - I know). She of course refused, and gently urged me on.
We ate lunch before the summit and I sat on a cereal box to keep my butt somewhat warm. I gulped down my sandwich and apple before my muscles had a chance to tighten up in the cold wind, and we kept on climbing.
After much groaning and moaning on my part (see… drama queen), we reached the summit. Not after some struggling over the rock scrambles - I’m not super fond of heights at the best of times, and literally pulling my body up over some challenging rocks was scary. But I made it with the help of Michelle and her incredible encouragement, and we reached the top! Which, as you can see, was a little anticlimactic - no view, no sign, and no sun. The wind was bitterly cold, so we hunkered down among the rocks for a few minutes to catch our breath and laugh as more hikers made the summit and exclaimed at the lack of fanfare.
As we turned to make our way back down the slope, something marvelous happened.
The clouds parted like magic, and the valleys were spread out before us in all their glory. A woman on the trail above us shrieked in delight, and we all laughed as her joyful shouts increased as the clouds parted further.
I was pretty sore that night and the next day (and the next), but I’m always glad when I do a hike. This one was a success - climbed in book time, and experienced some beautiful views. Not to mention got to laugh with a dear friend to boot! And isn’t that the point? My memory has already begun to block out the cold and the pain and the fear-of-heights bit. You can tell because I referred to the hike as a success. ;)