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.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cabot Slide Show Is Up

One only gets so many good days above tree line in winter. Yester- day the forecast predicted today would be such a day on Mt. Washington. However, when we woke up this morning and I checked the Higher Summits Forecast it predicted higher winds than originally predicted; winds that would eventually let up. I have to think first of Atticus and I decided to cancel that hike and do something much safer where we wouldn’t have to worry about the winds.

Another factor to be considered was what it would be like above tree line. With yesterday’s ice on the Osceolas and an on-line trail condition report above tree line from yesterday I was concerned about the ice Atticus would face. There’s not a lot of snow up there now and I would prefer bringing him up there with some solid snow pack to make it walking easier. Those rocks are rough and I like to put boots on him. However, when there is so much ice and not so much snow the boots minimize his grip and his safety is compromised.

The wind and temperatures were great for an above tree line hike. It’s frustrating to miss out on such a day when there are so few of them. However, it’s early enough in winter that I’m willing to bet we’ll get more chances as the season rolls on.

Our hike today was to the summit of Cabot. I may have been longing for an above tree line hike when we started but it didn’t take long to feel the peace of the wooded walk and the warm sun on our way to the beautifully wooded summit. It turned out to be one of our most pleasant hikes of the winter.

For our hike we chose a ‘closed’ trail. A controversial property owner has gone to war with hikers and the Appalachian Mountain Club and has declared the right of way by his property is no longer open. Some hikers continue to use it, however, continue to ‘misbehave’ by taking the ‘closed’ trail even though the AMC no longer recognizes or maintains the trail. Atticus and I chose to misbehave as well. Actually, I made the decision for us; he just came along to make sure I didn’t get in trouble. We ran into four other hikers, who were on their way down since they started three and a half hours before us.

Once again we had the summit to ourselves. That’s not completely true. We shared it with plenty of beautiful trees, coated with ice, some with Christmas-like icicles dangling from the boughs. We also stopped to snack at the Cabot Cabin which isn’t too far from the summit. You’ll see it in the slide show,
which can be found here.