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, April 13, 2008

April In The Mountains

(We’re still waiting on the Twins. When we get to North Twin the
first time it will be in memory of June Rogier’s dog, Dazy.)

It’s overcast, the tops of the higher peaks are cut off in a straight line by dense clouds, while wind cuts through the Notch and drives south. The thermometer on the shed wall outside reads 48 degrees but the wind makes it raw and uncomfortable. The sun is trying hard to push through the grayness, at least down here, a few miles shy of the higher peaks, and at the same time it is snowing, albeit softly, but still snowing. This is April in the mountains.

Yesterday we didn’t go off the trails. We walked through the long and numerous ovals of the parking lot at the Flume Visitor Center, totaling 2.4 miles. Our favorite little nature path, a 0.4 mile loop through the woods called the Roaring River Nature Path, has not felt human feet since winter began. The plows have barricaded the opening of the trail with snows still above our heads while plowing out the lot over and over again.

Today I looked through the want ads here in town and there was literally one job opening. This is April in the mountains. I tell myself not to panic about the money, just keep writing, focus on the book and move forward from there. Yesterday that worked; today? It’s still undecided.

This past week a group of hikers went through the slushy and loose snow down below before getting above treeline on the Bonds and it is reported that snow is still deep up high. This morning Lonesome Lake Hut at 2760 feet of elevation recorded snow depth of 62 inches. That’s a foot less than we had last week about this time. The missing snow is due to the warm temperatures and bright sun.

Those same warm temperatures and bright sun make a hike seem desirable. However, even with snowshoes on, most trails are a mess right now. Many don’t bring snowshoes thinking they won’t need them but end up post-holing. While wearing my snowshoes earlier in the week I still post-holed, but not too often and mostly on the way down where weight is magnified.

I think we will have snow up high for a very long time, probably throughout most of the spring and just shy of summer. I’m not excited by this premise, but there is no use complaining of the weather for it will not change a thing.

Rivers are now running high and hard because of the warm week we had. This, with the high levels of snow means it will be a little while until we get to places like the Twins or back out to Owls Head. Our winter hikes left undone are now spring hikes, and maybe some will even be late-spring hikes. It all goes towards what I’ve written from the beginning: take only what the mountains give you, especially when hiking with a small dog.

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