Yesterday we got to check another 4,000 footer off the list and we even got to do it with one of our favorite people! Linda has been such an influential person in my life, especially this past year, I don’t know what I’d do without her. Outside my family, she was probably my biggest supporter while we were on the Camino and always had encouraging words or the perfect verse to share with me. I was so excited when she suggested doing a hike with us yesterday, though I’m sure today she’s probably regretting that suggestion!!
I decided to take us up Mount Tecumseh in Waterville Valley. It’s the smallest of New Hampshire’s four thousand footers, coming in at 4,003 feet, but I thoroughly enjoyed it(I hope she did as well). The trail itself is a wonderful representation of White Mountain hiking, with the lovely soft dirt I’ve come to miss so much after endless kilometers of hard gravel. It also boasts quite a few brook crossing providing Maverick with plenty of fresh water and a nice place to lay down and cool off. And while the summit is very wooded and pretty small, it still offers some wonderful views. Maverick, who typically pays no mind to other dogs, even found himself a new girlfriend up there – a mix named Anona who he had a blast chasing in circles until the two of them managed to take out half the cairn that marks the summit.
For the way down, I chose to take us the path less travelled by (of course) and made it a loop hike by taking a trail that led to the top of Waterville Valley’s ski area where you have your choice of ski trails to take down to the base lodge. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Until you realize that you’ve taken a black diamond. And that black diamonds seem much, much steeper when they aren’t covered in snow. And suddenly you wish it was snow so you could just sit down and slide on your butt down the mountain. Though, I seemed to be doing a pretty good job of that regardless as I kept falling and managing to slip down the next few feet. In case you’ve ever doubted the usefulness of trekking poles, Linda didn’t fall once down those steep slopes yet I managed to slide my way down a solid chunk of it so there ya go. Maverick, however, seemed to be having the time of his life frolicking through the wild flowers and chasing after different butterflies of course. When we finally did reach a green trail at the end, it was a welcome reprieve to say the least.
Though I’ve always been guilty of focusing much of my attention on Maverick, I’m sure now post Camino it’s even more so and I’m sure Linda thought me quite weird as I sing silly jingles to him throughout our walks. But it was nice to have another human with us for once, and none better than her. She has a way of growing you as a person without you even realizing it just through normal conversation. You find yourself really thinking, opening yourself up to her and to God, and actually pondering about your life. It gave me a lot of insight into what the Camino has shown me now that I’m a few weeks out of it.
Like I said before, I have a feeling the Camino will be teaching me things for months to come because it’s so hard to realize how you’re changing in the moment. Now, I’ve already learned so much about myself. More than anything, I’ve found the Camino has shown me to accept myself. It’s given me a comfort in myself that I’ve never had before. I’m content to be alone with myself, something I never had been. I have so much more confidence now to do things alone. While I always used to be off on my own, I was always internally self-conscious, or worrying, or uncomfortable with it. Now, I am unfazed by it and even welcome being alone. I don’t care what others think as much as I used to. The only thing that really matters is between myself and God. Luckily, I have such a great mentor in Linda to help me grow my relationship with God. I can’t thank her enough for all she’s been for me, though I’m sure she’s not thanking me for the sore legs I’ve given her today.