The best hiking buddies are the ones that not only go along with your crazypants ideas but also come up with their own. Which is to say that we met up with Paws On Peaks at dark o’clock Saturday to revisit the Welch-Dickey loop.
My legs weren’t working very well — I guess not enough sleep or caffeine will do that — and we missed most of the sunrise, alas. But there was still a hint of color in the sky when we reached that first outlook.
It was neat to see how much Titus has learned in the last few weeks. He was much more confident on the ledges!
I don’t think introducing new people to this loop will ever get old. If I had to pick one route to hike for the rest of my ice, I think it would be this. Except for the part where it turns into a death trap in the winter. So maybe not.
Ty got sucked up the same off-route ledge that Lilo fooled me into following her up last time, too. Fearless leaders, unite!
The dogs and I headed home for a nap and then back out again in the evening to tackle Kearsage as a sunset hike. I ended up behind my clock for this one, too; Google Maps led me astray. But we hit the summit via Winslow trail with enough light to be confident of the turn-off to Barlow on our way back down, which was my secondary goal.
This was my first time on Kearsage, but I hear that we were pretty lucky to have the summit to ourselves. It was a gorgeous night: warm and a little breezy, very comfortable for a short linger to snack and take in the views.
We started back down with headlamp on to find the yellow Barlow-trail blazes. This was my first time night-hiking a trail that I hadn’t seen in the light and it was a good one: not super-obvious above treeline, but well-blazed and -cairned enough to reassure me when I was on the right route and without too many inviting false turns. We got a few steps off-trail a couple of times, quickly realized it, and calmly worked our way back.
I was more comfortable on Kearsage after dark than on Lincoln Woods, which seems a little bizarre since I knew that I was almost certainly alone on the mountain: there had only been one other car in the lot (and I knew from my Google-induced detour that the other side of the mountain was still gated with a long roadwalk in) and I’d met its people just below the summit. I guess it’s just down to the tricks that one’s brain plays. I’m very well aware that I’m more likely to get in trouble soloing by slipping and smashing my head on a ledge, but that’s an immediate risk that I work to mitigate with every step. There’s not a whole lot to be done when my brain starts calling up every scary story I’ve read recently! But lonely trails are weirdly comforting.
I did a lot of thinking this weekend, too, about how I decide what to hike (and what not to hike) with a novice dog (or any dog). I’ll write that one up for Friday. See you then!