Sugarloafs and Mount Hale 5-27-29-13
Spring Day on Middle Sugarloaf
North Sugarloaf 2310? and Middle Sugarloaf 2539? in the Little River Mountains
3.4 Miles 1000? Elevation gain
Kevin and Judy
It was another thing we knew we had to do, but were apprehensive about doing again because of the emotional hubris we knew it would churn up. Returning to the mountains as two instead of three was going to be hard, we had to face it head on. We toyed with the idea of heading to someplace we had never been before with Emma, but realized it wouldn?t work. We had to go somewhere we had visited many times with her, someplace she loved, too.
Painted Trillium Trillium undulatum
There were a lot of places we could have chosen, but the Sugarloafs were a perfect fit for this trip. We had been many times in all seasons, a standard back up plan when we needed one. We had camped here on the summit, and also in the campground. We had watched sunset and full moon rise together here. We had listened to owl?s call in the night, coyotes howl as the moon crept over the horizon, steam rise off the the pond as beaver slapped his tail at our intrusion. This place had always been sort of our home in the mountains.
As we approached Twin Mountain we could see that Old Man Winter had taken one last stroke across the high peaks. The Presidential Range glowed like alabaster circus tents on the northern horizon. We picked a site in the now empty campground and headed straight for the Sugarloafs from our campsite, the mountains were calling. Along the trail the wildflowers were blooming, but the high peaks all around us were covered in snow, now melting fast in the warm sun. We noticed along the trail a favorite wallow of Emma?s had been filled in to ?improve? the trail though I?m pretty sure Emma would not have approved.
We spent several hours between the two summits, taking in the magnificent view of the snow-covered Prezzies. Of course we shed some tears. There were times we remembered, and the realization that our times together were over, that we could never share these times again, at least not in this plane of existence. We inwardly prayed that somehow we would all be able to be together again on a mountaintop when this life was spent.
We eventually wandered back down to our campsite and made some supper. We found the camping without her part to be harder than the hiking. It was at the campsite where we would be taking care of her needs, food, water, a comfortable spot for her. We could picture where she would be, under the picnic table waiting for her supper, in the corner of the site where the last light of the sun could reach beyond the lengthening shadows.
Rhodora Rhododendron canadensis
After eating we drove down to Brettonwoods to watch the alpenglow on the snow-covered peaks as the sun set on this beautiful day. As we sat and watched a mama fox trotted by very close, stopped, and in a deft move snagged a rodent right in front of us. She trotted off towards her den with the prize for her waiting kits. In an instant Mr. Rodent had given his life that Mrs. Fox could raise her family, and so the circle of life closed as the sunsank in the west.
Time Lapse Video HERE:
Back at camp, our tiny tent seemed big and empty without out a faithful dog. I read for a long tme, but I couldn?t fall asleep. I got up in the night and wandered about a bit. I thought of Emma and tried to remember how many times we had camped together here, I couldn?t come up with a number. I stared at the sky through some tears. The stars were brilliant, but not as brilliant as the one that fell as I watched, burning out in a bright flash as it streaked across the firmament. I know who it was from...
Full set of pics HERE:
Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
Mount Hale, Brettonwoods and Sugarloaf 2 CG 5-28-29-13
Mount Hale 4054?
4.4 Miles 2300? Elevation gain
Hale Brook Trail
Kevin & Judy
After a cold, restless night we crawled out of the tent to a bright, beautiful spring morning in the mountains. We made tea and spent an hour or more walking in the campground and over to the beaver pond, looking for wildflowers and soaking in the early morning warmth. It was time, we got ready to hike our first 4k without a dog by our side since she was a pup over thirteen years ago. June nineteenth in 2000 Emma hiked her first 4k, Mount Hale with us and some friends and family. Judy never hiked again without her, and I can only think of a handful of times I went without her, more often it was she and I while Judy worked.
Clintonia Clintonia borealis
We have wanted to find our way up the Firewarden?s Trail for a long time, but decided today wasn?t the day. We retraced the steps we had taken thirteen years ago with her, and several times since, in each season along the Hale Brook Trail. Like the day before on the Sugarloafs I could see her in my mind along the trail, her waiting at the top of a short, steep scramble, or wading in a brook crossing, lapping at the water as she cooled herself off. Quickly melting snow from two nights previous had the brooks flowing well, and some water where it was unexpected. ?Well Emm, we wouldn?t have had to worry about water for you today.? we could picture her rolling in the slushy snow that still lay in the shadows of the woods.
When we had reached the trailhead we were surprised to see several cars on a Tuesday, people that all had the same idea. On our ascent we passed all of them on their way down. Thought we might have the summit to ourselves, but as we arrived, so did some backpackers from Zealand Hut. Their plans of a hut to hut from Greenleaf to Zealand had been thwarted by the wintery weather and high water. We spent an hour or more with them in the warm sun and they were nice enough to take some pictures for us.
The return trip was uneventful, ?There, we had done it.? Thoughts still drifted to Emma, our processes right now are to retrain ourselves for life without her which will be long and difficult as she was an integral part of all we did, indeed, of who we are. Back at the campsite we realized the hiking was easier than being still. With nothing to concentrate on, the mind easily drifted to our grief. We tried to stay busy, we drove down to Woodstock Station to eat, and for a diversion, something we wouldn?t have done with Emma. I would rather have her than the freedom to visit restaurants I thought I was missing when we wouldn?t leave her behind and always ate in the campsite. Someday, maybe we?ll be able o reconcile all of this.
Full set of pics HERE: