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, October 31, 2007

Mt Pemigewasset (Indian Head) on Halloween

There’s something special about this little mountain with the big views. Because it sits just across the street from us and is a quick hike to the top (1.5 miles) it has become our default mountain, perfect for a late afternoon workout. Mt. Pemigewasset served our purposes perfectly today since I’d spent the day moving things into our new apartment and getting my desk set up. (The kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedroom can all wait. I am a writer after all.)

We hit the trail somewhere just after 4:00 in the afternoon, leaving from the Flume parking lot. While walking the 50 or so yards to the trailhead along the paved bike path we encountered a couple and their dog approaching from the other direction. As Atticus and I were turning onto the trail the fellow looked a little excited and hollered, “Is that Atticus?” His wife looked at him quizzically. “That’s a famous dog,” he told her. So we stopped to chat. Turns out it was a fellow from New York who posts on the Views from the Top hiking site under the name of KMorgan. When Atticus was sick and going blind this past spring he sent along a very touching message. I thanked him for that. We chatted for a bit and then Atti and I started up the trail.

And what a trail it is, too. Simply delightful! The lower portion goes under Rt. 3 and then both sides of I-93 before it starts crossing a stream over and over again. There are several log bridges along the lower portion and it is a gentle meander through the now mostly-naked trees. The leaves underfoot were all brown and dry, autumn’s colors long gone. But still, there is something wonderful and peaceful about trundling along through this wonderful crispy carpet. Today was warm but in the late afternoon the shade brought out the scent of a coming November.

It wasn’t long before we left the bare trees behind and found ourselves near the top in the evergreens. Here the trail eases up considerably and the sun, hurrying to set to get dressed for Halloween perhaps, was sinking deep but greeted us through the trees. When we popped out on the summit Atticus went immediately to the outer most point of the cliff edge and looked down into Lincoln and back towards our new apartment. We sat down and I gave him water out of his special bottle (a Gulpy) and pulled out his favorite treats (Snaw Somes!).

This mountain has a grand view into the valley below but it also offers more to those who are willing to investigate a little further. On the other side of the summit there is a great view down to Loon and the Osceola’s and then over to a very dramatic Franconia Ridge. At this time of day the lighting was wonderful.

Upon making our way back to the other side Atticus went back out to his spot and just sat down and looked out again. I sometimes wonder what he thinks when doing this and have come to the conclusion that he mostly is doing the same thing we all do when confronted with a breathtaking views. He just sits down and enjoys it.

Then, there was one last stop. On our way back towards the path he came face to face with the setting sun and just sat down again and watched it for a while.

How lucky I am to have such a companion who loves these mountains as much as I do, who seems to find the beauty as inspiring as I do, who appears to hold some reverence for it all.

Once the sun dipped below the westward mountains we finally went on our way and walked through the darkening woods half expecting to run into a moose or maybe even the Jack, Pumpkin King as the Halloween night started to drape itself upon the eastern side of the mountain. Alas, there was no such luck. But upon returning to our place we did run into Nathaniel and Brianna Caston, who were decked out in their costumes, along with their cousins Brian and Tyler.

Last week five-year-old Nathaniel showed up at my rental cabin (the apartment was still being worked on) dressed as a skeleton. He asked what Atticus was going to be on Halloween.

“A dog.”

“He can’t. He’s already a dog.”

“Yes, but he doesn’t think he’s one.”

Nathaniel, who at times can me more like 50 than 5 wanted proof.

“Atticus,” I said, “If you think you’re not a dog sit down.”

“Wow!” And that was all the proof Nathaniel needed. Tonight he showed his family this very same thing and Atticus complied nicely with the words and proved Nathaniel knew what he was talking about.
The slide show for our Halloween hike can be found here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A New Photo Hosting Site

This year I'm going to experiment with a new web photo hosting site. Click here and you will be taken to the Phanfare site where our photos will be hosted. Actually, the link will take you directly to a slide show of a hike we made a couple of weeks ago to the snowy top of Mt. Garfield. The link that will take you to all of the more recent photo albums can be found here. The web address is

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Mt. Crawford: October 9, 2007

Today was the perfect autumn hike. We were joined by Ken and Ann Stampfer. Ken is the photographer of most of the photos that appear in Steve Smith's books. He's wonderfully talented an on this day he was in his element with the beautiful blue skies, the peaking foliage and the dramatic view towards Mt. Washington or up into Crawford Notch. Photos from this wonderful day can be found here.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Moriah: October 6, 2007

On Saturday we hiked Mt. Moriah along one of our favorite trails with some great ledge walking. Photos can be found here.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Waumbek: October 3, 2007

Finally, we're home.
A year ago I decided I wanted to sell my newspaper and move up to Lincoln, NH. If I couldn't sell it by December I would just close it. However, just over a month ago I did sell it. Earlier this week Atticus and I moved north.
Today was our first hike in a while, and what will be our first of many hikes to come as residents of New Hampshire. We hiked Waumbek, a 7.2 mile round trip. The woods were simply wonderful with crisp leaves underfoot and a quilt of soft green and yellow overhead.
In the photos above, Atticus poses with the summit cairn, which looks a lot like the Hogwart's Sorting Hat, at least to this writer's eye. In the other photos Atticus poses with the foliage on the way down the path and then a shot of him bouncing happily along.
It's going to take a little bit of time to get into shape, but that's what we're doing up here: hiking and writing.
Tomorrow's plan is to hike Monroe, Eisenhower and Pierce with Drew.