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.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mist on the Mountains

We woke up this morning to mists on the mountains. Not a good hiking day: a chance of rain, a chance of snow. I often think of the foggy days in winter as a chance for hypothermia. We will not be hiking today.

We have quite a few peaks left as winter winds down. Who would have known we would have the winter we did? Long traverses over multiple peaks have been few and far between. As a matter of fact, there have only been four of them for us this winter. Blame it on the snow.

The other day I saw a photo of the summit of Zealand. It’s a treed summit with the most unique summit sign in the Whites. In summer the sign is above my head. In the photo, taken just the other day, the sign is literally only inches above the snow level!

The walk along the Wildcat Ridge Trail from Wildcat A* to Wildcat D* is an up and down ramble. While I do not consider this a particularly difficult trail, with all the ups and downs I have termed it the “Bi-Polar Trail”. That trail is now impossible to get through, or so I’m told. The trees usually form a nice corridor over the trail in places when you aren’t peaking out over at the Northern Presidentials. However, with all this snow, the depth is so that you cannot even crawl under some of the branches that used to look down upon hikers below. (The * signifies peaks we need to get twice.)

Because of the snow conditions, and the river conditions (most are still open), our Winter Quest will spread into our Spring Quest as we continue bagging peaks in our attempt to raise money for Angell Animal Medical Center.

This weekend, the weather doesn’t look optimal, but I’m hoping to get something done. The good news is that a group is out to break out Isolation*, which can be a tough place to get to in winter. If they succeed we shall follow and then turn around and follow again.

We are still waiting for optimal above treeline conditions for the Northern Presidentials and for Washington* the Southern Presidentials*. Owls Head and the Twins* and Galehead* have deep, deep snow and lose river crossings. The Carters* look do-able in the coming week as does perhaps Carrigain, too. And then there are the Bonds, Zealand and Hale. In some places the snow depth is magnificent, in others the ice is like a skating rink. We shall see.
Winter ends the middle of next week and while we are going to fall far short of my intended goal of 96 peaks I can say we gave it our best shot but the breaks were not with us. But it has still been, and will continue to be, a great adventure with a great little hiking partner by my side.