Sunday, April 19, 2009

3 hours, no tantrums

(Click on pictures to see them REALLY big)

What a lovely day it was! The first real day of spring. This is often a tough time of year for me (culminating in my annual June blues). I must have reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder. Very rare. I start coming alive in late October, peak somewhere in the middle of February, and then begin to descend with the advent of spring. I think it has to do with the light. I prefer dark.

But yesterday was lovely. No leaves yet. Sunlight still somewhat muted and kind to the eyes.

Susan and I ran trails at Haley Farm and Bluff Point for 3 hours early in the morning. I carried all my water on my back. My love affair with the Wink continues. Temperatures started in the mid 40's, but by the end of the run they had reached into the 60's. We were overdressed for the late morning sun. I made it through the run with just water and one Clif Blok. I need to start practicing eating more on the run. Next week.

After running, Brian and I piled the kids in the car to drive up to Mt. Monadnock in southern New Hampshire. Nell recently remembered how much she had enjoyed climbing Monadnock back in the September and she wanted to try it again.

The Big Question then became: Do We Bring Ben or Do We Farm Him Out to Grandma? We had hiked earlier in the week at Westwoods in Guilford, CT and Ben had a massive tantrum. I carried him for 90 minutes while he hooted and screamed in my ear. What else could I do? We were in the middle of the woods.

Against all good sense, we decided to bring Ben again.

And I'm glad we did, because he was delightful. You just never know.

As we drove across the Massachusetts border, the sky began to darken. There was rain in the forecast for late afternoon. We were slated to arrive at Monadnock around 12:30, which would put us at the summit right as the rain started.

Not good.

Brian did a bit of magic with the GPS and re-routed us to Mt Watchusett in North Central Mass. This is a lesser mountain: much quicker to ascend and descend in iffy weather. It turned out to be a great decision. We had lots of fun scrambling on the rocks. We hiked for 3 hours and reached to parking lot just as the first drops fell.

The most direct route from the parking lot to the summit was just over half a mile, but fairly steep for little legs. It took us 45 minutes to get to the top. The pace was just fine with me, as my legs were tired from the morning run and I had lunch, water and jackets for five people strapped to my back.

Brian and I took turns holding Ben's hand while Simon and Nell ran ahead. Back and forth, back and forth. They loved it.

There was a bit of snow under the chairlift at the summit. The lifts weren't running, so they made a nice little picnic spot.

We took the long way around and down. Simon the Monkey spent quite a bit of time in the trees.

In this last one, you can see the devastation. The ice storm last December snapped all the trees in this area. The mountain look like a wasteland.

Ben lasted about 2 hours under his own steam, and then succombed to the backpack. He is heavier than he looks. It's a good thing we skipped Monadnock!

I will definitely come back to Watchusett this summer. The steep and rocky terrain is just what I need for Grindstone. It's less than 2 hours from the house, quite do-able as a day trip. Drive up early, walk/run most of the day up and down, drive home. Can't wait!

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