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.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Looking Ahead

Today’s rain has made much of yesterday’s snow very slushy. It has pretty much stopped but the forecast is for another 5-10 inches of snow tonight. We shall see. Not sure what tomorrow will hold for us if anything at all. However, Friday will definitely be a go.

At this point Friday is looking like a hike up to the summits of both East Osceola and Osceola again. I know, did it just the other day but I’m trying to be wise with my choice since it involves Gary Roberts and Tom Jones, two who haven’t hiked yet this winter.

This hike is only 7.6 miles round trip but covers some steep climbs. With all the new snow we’ll be breaking trail with our snowshoes so I don’t want to do anything too far. They’ll be driving up from Newburyport in the morning and back in the evening and the Osceolas are a close shot from Newburyport, at just over a two hour ride. From here it’s only a 20 minute ride at the most.

The forecast for the weekend doesn’t look horrible, but it’s not great either. Seems like they’ll be snow showers the entire time. After Friday’s hike we’ll have to see who has hiked where and what is broken out. I do know that the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) has large groups out this weekend. One is supposed to go over the two Twins and Galehead while another is supposed to do the 17 mile out and back to Owl’s Head. In both instances the trail will be well-packed out.

If we get the Osceolas on Friday, Twins/Galehead on Saturday and Owls Head on Sunday that will mean we only have 23 hikes left if all goes well. And the more I think about it the more I’m thinking that Atticus and I may take a shot at the Pressie Traverse over Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower and Pierce. If we do this that combines two of the hikes into one.

It’s all part of the numbers game now. Yesterday marked the first day of the second half of winter. However because it stormed yesterday and today and we might miss out on Thursday too, that means from Friday on we have only 42 days left for the 26 hikes. If we do a full Pressie Traverse that means only 25 hikes.

Here’s where it gets interesting folks. We can’t miss too many more days. There will also be some days when we’ll be able to combine hikes, too. For instance, earlier we did Cabot and Cannon on the same day. We still have Cannon to do a second time. That could be combined with nearly any of our shorter hikes as a second hike that day if need be and we are pressed for time. Another possibility is to do Moosilauke on the same day we do something like the Hancocks.

As always, our plans will depend upon the weather and the conditions. Keep your fingers crossed it starts to turn for the better and we get a window of good days.

Mike Dickerman, who wrote the piece about us for the Littleton Courier, is writing a follow-up piece for the Fosters Daily Democrat ( and it will appear this weekend. He emailed me a few questions, one of which asked me to compare this year to last year.

In short, what I wrote to him was that this winter there is no consistency with the weather. One day we get snow, then melt, then rain, then a good day, then a freezing day that forms a bulletproof ice-covered snow, then a thaw day. Last year it either snowed or didn’t but it usually stayed that way for days on end.

What we need to help us out is a string of just normal winter days with cold but fair weather. That would give us a good, fast track for snowshoeing. We haven’t had it yet so I’d like to think the law of averages will be with us in the last six weeks of winter. We shall see.