Lucy's Reintroduction to the NH48 with Tom and Field
Today Lucy and I spent some quality time together in the mountains. Now that I’m done with the NH48, I’m a little more focused on Lucy’s list. I’m not sure she’s cut out for all of them, specifically the rough terrain in the northern Presidentials, but she loves being outside so I figure we’ll see how many we can do together and go from there. Today was long, but a perfect hike to get her back in the swing of things. We summited Tom, Field, and Avalon, making Lucy’s total 7/48.
After a few hikes at the beginning of my bid for the 4,000 footers that were a little too difficult for her, I decided to scope the rest out before taking Lucy up anything I wasn’t sure about. I also figured out some of the issues that had made it difficult in the past and we’re working to fix them. The first was her endurance (or lack thereof). When we hiked Zealand and Cannon, Lucy was so exhausted by the time that we reached the summit she didn’t have any more gas in the tank for the hike down. I figured out it was because I was hiking with her off leash at the beginning of the hike, and she was running around so much that she tired herself out too early. She gets so excited when we start hiking that she runs up and down the trail. I now keep her on the leash on the way up the mountain to not only conserve her energy but also for safety. We’ve been working on improving Lucy’s recall and she’s pretty good, but when there are a lot of distractions like other hikers, dogs, and squirrels, her focus breaks down a bit.
The second thing that was preventing us from hiking long distances were Lucy’s feet. The quick of her nails is really long, making them hard to trim. I’ve been dremeling them a few times a week in the hopes that over time they will get shorter. In the meantime, my dad got Lucy some Ruffwear boots for when we’re on rocky terrain. Today was good because with the snow on the trail rocks weren’t a problem. The last issue is Lucy’s fear while descending. Every time there’s a steep downhill section of trail, Lucy gets nervous and doesn’t want to come down. I think it’s more of a confidence issue than anything else so I hope it gets better with time and experience on these steep trails.
Our hike today went just about as well as it could have gone. The weather forecast called for rain in the morning, so I was unsure about hiking but when I woke up the weather was pretty good, cloudy but no rain. Lucy and I got a really late start around 10:00 and headed towards Mt. Tom. The trail was pretty flat for the first half a mile but then it started to gain elevation slowly but steadily. There was an open crossing pretty early on, and although Lucy was scared we got past it without incident. There were a few other bridged crossings, but they made me nervous with the warm weather. These ice bridges have flowing water underneath them, and with it getting up to 68 degrees today they won’t be intact much longer. It’s dangerous because you could fall through especially with the high water levels from the snow melt.
As we gained elevation we met some other hikers and kept moving. Lucy kept a brisk, steady pace leading me all the way up Mt. Tom. It was still a bit cloudy so the views weren’t great, but I was amazed how different the summit looked with snow on the ground. The six foot snowpack made it so that you could see above the trees and across the valley. It’s crazy how these mountains look so different from season to season.
After a quick snack break we descended and then went back up to Mt. Field. This was a nice quiet stretch of trail with not too much elevation gain until the end. At the summit we saw a bunch of other hikers we had seen along the way so it was nice to cross paths with them again. We decided to finish off the day on Mt. Avalon, with some great views. It was downhill to Avalon but the last 100 yards to the summit was very steep. I was wondering if the views would be worth the struggle. The absolutely were. The weather had cleared up leaving us basking in the sun with the breeze blowing through to cool us off. We stayed here for a little while taking in the clear views all the way to Mt. Washington.
When we finally started the descent to the car we were met with some difficulty. It had warmed up so much that the nicely packed trails were giving way to lots of postholes (when your boot sinks down deep into the snow making gaping holes that people can fall into). I threw on my snowshoes for a little bit, but they were making it harder to maneuver especially since I didn't have my trekking poles. The half mile to the junction of the A-Z trail was extremely steep and going down it was very challenging. I usually butt-sled down trails like this, but I tried it once and found that I got going so fast that I couldn't stop myself. Luckily there was a well placed tree that I could grab onto to stop me from plummeting down too far. Lucy was also very nervous descending. She had been off the leash staying right on my heels for most of the way between Tom and Field, but she was more hesitant here. With a little coaxing she made it down but I could tell she didn’t like it much. When we finally made it to flatter ground she was relieved but too tired for her usual stick chewing on the way to the car.
Although this was a little bit of a long day, the weather turned out great making for a beautiful hiking day. I’m so proud of Lucy finishing her sixth and seventh 4,000 footers. By leashing her on the ascent she had enough energy to carry her through the whole hike. Although she was exhausted afterwards, Lucy seemed happy for the majority of the hike and I loved being able to spend time in the mountains with her. It was a gorgeous, relaxing day in the warm spring weather.
Mt. Tom (4,052 ft), Mt. Field (4,331 ft), and Mt. Avalon (3,442 ft) via. Avalon Tr, A-Z Tr, Mt. Tom Spur, and Willey Range Tr [6.97 mi, 2,965 ft, 4:28].