After waking up yesterday feeling so lost, I knew we needed to take off for the mountains today. And that’s just what we did. I wanted to do another 4,000 footer because I’ve got that itch to do all 48, but I didn’t want to peak bag today. I knew I had to be home by a certain time and I also thought it would be good to kind of ease into White Mountain hiking again, because it is very different than anything on the Camino. So I broke out my White Mountain AMC guide and my maps and decided we would just do Mount Osceola today. I have a tendency to always want to peak bag when another peak is close by, but I figured it would be fine to just do East Osceola some other time. And off we went.
To say we got a late start is an understatement, but I’m learning that those things are okay. So we didn’t start actually hiking until a little after 10 this morning up at the trailhead off Tripoli Road. Which I had never been up before, but definitely plan on coming back to. There are endless areas for backwoods camping off this road near mountain streams that look too good to be true. But I digress.
It was so exciting to be back on the soft, dark dirt trails of New Hampshire woods. Littered with rocks and boulders and roots. Switchbacks and granite slabs to scramble up and views over hills covered in evergreens. The smell of the forest; of home. It was a mix of weird and amazing to be back. Like I had never left, but also like I was a different person here now. Camino definitely put me in the best walking shape of my life. I breathe so much easier now, my asthma I’ve struggled with for years didn’t even bother me today. My legs are so strong I never even had to stop on our way to the summit and my heart wasn’t racing as much as it normally does. I felt so strong and because of that we were really zipping along. A part of me was kind of sad by that, I definitely wasn’t taking in as much as I usually do.
While I was feeling so good, it was clear Maverick needed a little refresher on mountain hiking. He has become so used to just walking on flat surfaces or on roadsides that he was very confused and clumsy trying to jump up rocks and weave his way around roots. But by the end he was definitely getting his legs back under him.
Like I said in how we were zooming through, we reached the summit of Mount Osceola a little over an hour after we set out. Per the guidebook, it should have taken 2 and a half hours….whoops. We paused to share some peanut butter crackers and sip on some water before Maverick started zooming around, this time chasing dragonflies instead of the butterflies he had become so used to in Spain. While I was sitting debating my next move, another young girl reached the summit coming from the East Osceola side and I happened to ask her what the trail was like between the summits because I had read it was a tricky section. She told me there was really only one rough part and it wasn’t too bad. Less than a mile between summits. So that made my decision. We had reached Mount Osceola so quickly, we might as well do East Osceola, too. And just like that, we continued on.
That tricky part happened to be Maverick’s first chimney. Which in hiking is a very steep almost hand over foot climbing portion. Luckily, it wasn’t too long of one and Maverick killed it! He was a bit hesitant, a lot whiny, but all it took was me going first and then he slid his way down on our way over to East Osceola and on our way back the same thing, and then he bounded up it in one go. He really is a little mountain goat dog when he gets into the groove of hiking, just like when we did Washington what felt like years ago now.
The summit of East Osceola has no view whatsoever, it’s just a rock pile in a little clearing, as you can see in one of our pictures. And we met with the girl who had told us about this trail again here as she headed back down to her car. She too was tackling the NH48 and only had 16 left to go now. Meanwhile, this marks Maverick’s fourth of 48. She was fun to talk to, and we could have stayed there for longer if there hadn’t been a threat of incoming thunderstorms. So instead, we said our goodbyes and parted ways, Maverick and I headed back towards Osceola. Luckily, we made it back without getting too wet. The rain began as we descended, but the trees made it so we only felt a drizzle. Maverick found plenty of sticks on our way down, despite me thinking he was tired only minutes before. And after what seemed like hours, we finally made it back to my car in one piece.
It felt so good to be walking again. Climbing. Moving forward, just me and my dog. We only passed a total of 12 people today (3 of which Maverick terrified and they all made a point to tell me they had thought he was wolf) which reminded me how awesome midweek hikes are. I may have felt lost yesterday being home, but in the mountains I felt whole.