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.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tuesday Strategy

The sun is out this morning and it brings cheer with it. Yesterday, it snowed all day. It snowed all day and what we got in Lincoln was only an inch. This is not a bad thing, not as far as I’m concerned because Atticus and I need to get some peaks and I didn’t want to loose days after getting buried.

The storm, predicted to leave substantial amounts of snow, veered off towards Maine. I have to keep that in mind when choosing our upcoming hikes. Not much snow here, but just a bit to the east, Mt. Carrigain, which is just below Crawford Notch, reportedly got 8” of snow. I know this because it is right next door to the Attitash ski slopes and their website reported it. Of course they may be exaggerating by an inch or two, but still, they received more than we did.

Further to the northeast, Wildcat reported 8-10” on their slopes. That means the Wildcats, Carters and Moriah got their fair share of snow. It won’t cripple us. However, at the same time, with all the ice there is on the trails now, the snow hasn’t had a chance to attach itself to the surface yet. This makes for incredibly slow and frustrating going. If you walk up a mountain through 8-10” of new loose snow it’s not unlike walking up a big sand dune. But this is even more challenging. Picture walking up a sand dune with the sand constantly shifting underfoot, while there is a slick surface underneath that.

It’s all part of winter. Strategy is very important, even more so when one is traveling with a small MVP (most valuable pup).

I have to pick my spots carefully. Those places like the Osceolas that were dangerously icy the other day are still dangerously icy, even if they didn’t get all that much snow. Because of last week’s thaw the stream and river crossings are wide open and difficult to cross. Above tree line right now it is cold and windy. The mountains to the east have more snow than those here in the western portion of the Whites. All this comes into play when deciding what to hike today and probably the next few days. By this weekend the likes of Carrigain and Moriah will be broken out, as will most everything else.

But today, today is a different story. Where to bring the little guy where he will be safe and sound and we can get another peak? Waumbek. Waumbek is not steep enough to pose an icy problem. There was not a lot of snow up there either. Yes, we hiked Waumbek already this winter but the goal is to do each peak twice. I suppose this could be considered one of the advantages of having to do so many peaks. It opens up the options. Yes, I’d much rather we hike something we haven’t hiked yet, but when life gives you lemons you make lemonade.