That horse of mine lives up in Orford, NH, and I was due to visit with him and his people. (They’re all doing great!) So on Saturday, I made Titus tired in the morning and then loaded Lilo up for the drive. She’s a great copilot, waits patiently (albeit staring at me the whole time) in the car, and was delighted to get her reward: a walk up Mt Cube’s south peak via the Cross-Rivendell trail.
It was one of those days that looks warm — blue skies and sun! — but still has a chill in the wind. Gotta admit that the lingering winter weather and horrific ice on the higher summits has me feeling just fine about sticking to smaller mountains (Cube is 2,900′ and change) for now! Even if the lower portion of the CRT was mostly mud.
Only mostly, though! At 2,500′ or so — I don’t carry an altimeter, so that’s strictly an estimate — the minor very intermittent ice and mostly-mud gave way to much more significant and less bypassable patches.
I added spikes, took them off, and put them back on again. On the way down, I ended up just leaving them on until we were below the worst of it. Happily, there wasn’t much rock in this section so I don’t think I dulled the spikes too much. Of course the only time I fell on the ascent was scrambling up a bank to avoid the ice!
There were a few nice outlooks and short not-quite scrambles on the ascent and I heard two ravens playing on the thermals at one point. Approaching the summit, the tree cover mostly drops away and you have an easy scramble or steepish walk-up (depending on your point of view!) about a hundred feet of pretty quartize ledge….to the top!
It’s a really lovely expansive view. One of the few other hikers I saw all day happened to pass up just below the summit and was still there when we arrived; she said it’s one of her favorite places. I can understand why! I recommend Steve Smith’s excellent write-up of the trails and view guide.
I had intended to go on to the north peak. We started on past the first junction, but at the second I wasn’t totally sure which way to go. (There’s excellent trail signage, but nothing that points to the north peak specifically and I — bad hiker! — had not brought a map.) We were up on our turnaround time anyway, so we turned back and lingered on the summit for a bit before heading back down the way we’d come.
Lilo was perfect all day — just a joy to hike along with. This was our first big outing since Titus came home. We’ve done a few little strolls and she’s run lots of errands with me (and gotten lots of snuggles!). But she doesn’t believe in morning exercise and our post-work walks involve both dogs. It was really nice to amble easily along again with my best friend. I spent most of the descent thinking about what a great hiking dog she’s become and how well we understand each other.
I also spent some time thinking about how that understanding didn’t come free. I spent an awful lot of time in tears over trying to hike with this dog. She learned, and I learned, and Titus is learning, too. It was a lovely break and a lovely reminder.
Although this walk and Titus’s stellar behavior on a short trip to Franklin Falls Dam (just the two of us) when I got home may have made me a little overly optimistic…! Check back on Friday* for that story.
*I’m going to switch up my posting schedule and try Monday/Wednesday/Friday for a bit.