This trip was one day after I got #65 and #66 on the Crockers.
Pat and Audrey and Kris had arrived earlier in the afternoon. After a beer and some wine, we watched a lovely sunset and played with the most wonderfulest dog in the world; Genie. Aside from the bat incident in the night we all slept well then took a fairly late start, getting to the trailhead road by 10:15. The first bridge is a bit of a challange, but Pat's driving skills and a few well placed logs got us across. We got to the trailhead and started up around 10:25.
Don't believe the trailsigns, they lie. There's no way this was an 8 mile hike, probably closer to 10. The first 3 miles are fairly gentle, climbing slightly up to the old firewarden's cabin. It's quite muddy, and there were several significant blowdowns. Genie went swiming in each stream crossing as we looked on jealously. From the cabin things climb steeply, eventually coming out on the rocky talus about 1/2 mile from the summit. We met a few groups coming down, inlcuding one with a fellow who had done his 115 in winter. We had a delightly conversation on the edge of the world, with clear views all around us and a white-throated sparrow song as our backdrop.
On we went, and I was extremely glad I had picked Abraham for my last peak, and Pat, Audrey, and Kris had chosen me to accompany. Genie found the last remaining muddy water puddle and promptly lay down in it, looking extremely contented with herself. But on we went, the tower in sight, and soon I was there (#67). Yea! It was gorgeous, the weather was nearly perfect in all respects, we had the summit to ourselves, and all was right in the world.
A few other groups arrived, some headed to the little knob just south to hang out, we started our summit lounging in earnest. Audrey pulled out the Champagne (but we forgot the glasses) so my first swig promptly went up my nose, not at auspicious ending but rather fitting, I think. We lounged for over an hour, a few other groups arrived completely full of Dartmouth people. It was kind of fitting, since my first 4000'er in 1981 was Moosilauke on my Dartmouth freshman trip. Full circle.
Finally we pealed ourselves away from the alpine wonderland and started down. Just below treeline we met two guys from the MATC cutting blowdowns on the way up. These guys did an amazing amount of work, they must have cleared a few dozen blowdowns. Thank you so much! Another fitting omen for my final peak, as I did lots of trailwork along the way, peakbagging leading directly to trailwork. We made short work of the trip out from the firewarden's cabin to the road, out in a little over an hour. Even Jeanie looked a little tired until she found a soda can to play with an became her 9 month old self again.
Back to Mooselookmaguntick for a fine sunset and dinner and a fireworks show from the next camp. Some more bat issues were resolved and we all crashed around 11:00. The next morning we discovered a Luna moth on the window, along with several other interesting and colorful varieties. Those three were headed for Saddleback and the Horn, I was headed home. We packed up and headed out, each with our own goals for the day.
Looking back over the long journey I think of this as a vista, not a destination. The lists are a nice guidepost, but they aren't the reason I hike. Having said that, it was a wondeful way to mark the occasion. Thanks to Pat, Audrey, Kris, and Jeanie for coming with me on this most wonderful day. Thanks to Brenda for being there on so many of the other hikes and ski trips, sorry you couldn't be here for this one but there will be many others to come. Thanks to the Hookes and Kotz's for coming with me on lots of the early peaks, and to the hundreds of others who I've hiked with over the years. Thanks to Darren for providing a place to share these thoughts, and to all of you for reading all the way to the end.
Now, I've got no lists in front of me. If I find myself near the end of the 100 highest list, it'll be by happy coincidence, not by design. Excelsior.
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