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, February 19, 2008

Today's Plan: Moriah

Good morning. This morning the sun is out and the sky is mostly clear. Outside my window I can hear the roar of the Pemigewasset River. This is not a good sign. Yesterday’s warm temperatures and heavy rains have melted many a snow bridge over brooks and streams I’m afraid. Just how bad is it? We’re about to find out.

The parking lot outside might as well be an ice rink but the roads are in better shape, I believe. Today’s plan is to drive the hour over to Gorham and hop down towards Pinkham Notch to hike Moriah by way of the Stony Brook Trail, one of my favorite hikes. However, there are stream crossings to contend with so we’ll see how well the snow bridges held up or if they are gone or unstable.

As of today there are 30 full days left of winter. That’s it. And we still have so much to do. I figure there are 20 hikes left and we need the weather to cooperate if we stand a chance to reach our goal. That is something the weather hasn’t done since winter started. But who knows, perhaps we shall get lucky during the last month of winter.

In these last 20 hikes, there are many longer hikes on our list that will give us multiple peaks. There are fewer simple and protected hikes where we don’t have to worry about exposure. Moriah is one where I’m not worried about exposure. And so is tomorrow’s planned hike up the Tripyramids by way of the Pine Bend Brook Trail. Both hikes are 10 miles.

Because of the weather roller coaster this winter Atticus and I have been able to hike three days in a row only once as compared to several times last winter. We may have that opportunity this week if the forecast holds out. Now we just have to worry about our bodies holding up. Ironic, isn’t it? We have stayed fresh by not hiking as much as I would have liked throughout the constant nagging storms this winter but at the same time have been unable to build up much strength by doing three or four hikes in a row.

In the coming weeks we’ll need to stitch together three hikes in a row on several occasions in the coming weeks if the weather allows.

Tomorrow we get a visit from Jeff Veino, who hiked with us several times last year and with us on Waumbek earlier this year. I also expect Jeff to be up here several more times this winter. He’s good company and understands the focus of hikes centering on Atticus.

On Friday, Tom Jones and Gary Roberts are coming up from Newburyport. We’ll know more what we are hiking when the weather forecast firms up but at this time it appears we’ll be heading east where we have not hiked at all yet. Today’s hike of Moriah will be our first hike in the eastern section of the White Mountains. Perhaps we’ll do the three Carters and I’ll give them the option of heading back after that or joining me for the two Wildcats, too. Again, the forecast and conditions will dictate what we do.

It will be good to have some friendly faces up here. I’ll admit to feeling a little bit isolated up here. This is so different than our existence back in Newburyport. I’m not unhappy with our move up here; I just need some good interaction with friendly faces as winter stretches on.

Okay, we’d better get going. Here’s hoping that the two missing hikers on the Presidential Range are rescued today. At least the Search and Rescue people have better conditions to work with today.