Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Twas The Day Before Christmas

It is the day before Christmas and we’re putting off our hike for a little while. Yesterday’s rain and warm temps have melted a lot of snow and the driveway outside where we live is a sheet of ice. The Pemigewasset River is roaring as it does in spring; all the ice bridges that were forming have been ripped apart.

Today we are hiking Mt. Waumbek. No stream crossings and it is a hike which won’t take all day. I know it has been broken out but it will be interesting to see what kinds of conditions exist after yesterday’s rain. I’m hoping that much of what existed before will simply be packed down. It’s also one of those hikes I don’t mind finishing in the dark. As a matter of fact, it was the hike we did on Christmas Eve afternoon last year, too, climbing up under cloudy skies and finishing under a brilliant moon with stars serenading us from above on our way through the open forest back to our waiting car. (Who knows, perhaps this will be our Christmas Eve tradition…Waumbek.) Another reason to hike Waumbek today is because of the lack of views the hike offers which is perfect for a cloudy day.

Yesterday we spent the day lounging around. Atticus slept much of the day away while I corresponded with friends, baked a sweet potato pie; made sauce with meatballs, sausages, mushrooms and lots of basil and garlic; and then watched the Patriots.

After his day off Atti seems fine and he won’t have to worry about breaking trail today. I’ve given him a little extra breakfast (Dr. Harvey’s with some shredded cheese, ground beef, sweet sausage, and plenty of oil). Both of us consume extra oil in the busy winter months of hiking. It’s good for the joints and the muscles.

As for me, my month off from hiking was what my knee needed. It feels fine, not perfect, but not hurting either. My calves, which have been a problem throughout the autumn, continue to be a problem. I need to continue stretching them. My quads are still a bit tight from our hike on the Hancock’s but today’s hike will serve to lubricate them to the point where stretching will be more effective.

Are Christmas Eve plans are to stay mellow in our little Hobbit hole of an apartment. Atticus and I have been invited to a party down in Campton but I’ve passed. We’ve also been invited for Christmas dinner at Rick & Kim’s place downstairs (they are our landlords). However, we’ll be hiking tomorrow and when we return I’ll bring down the presents I have for Rick, Kim, Cody, Nathaniel and Brianna. I have bought a turkey but I think I’ll put off cooking that for a few days.

In the last two years I’ve grown accustomed to hiking on Christmas Day, having the summits to ourselves is not a bad way to celebrate the day. Have no idea what we are hiking tomorrow as of yet. Perhaps we’ll do the Tripyramid’s. We’ll see.

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