A year ago today, I found myself in a peculiar predicament. There I was, leg deep in packed down snow. Tank top, shorts, boots, and a back pack. No, I’m not crazy; I am adventurous.
As an avid hiker, I have greatly enjoyed exploring the White Mountain region of New Hampshire. My best friend, Dave, also is a big proponent of hiking and tends to usually lead the way to new trails we have yet to experience. In May of last year, he had found the best trail we had yet to come across.
It was early May of 2009, and the weather called for our first summer-like day of the year. After a tough winter, it was going to be in the mid to upper 80’s in New Hampshire. Thrilled to break out our hiking gear, Dave told me we were going to Mt. Moosilauke. Questioning why he chose this trail, he smiled and said, “because it has cascades and will not only be beautiful, but extremely dangerous.” I was hooked.
Approaching from the north, we selected the Beaver Brook Trail as our way to the top. At the base of the trail, we encountered a sign that read, “This trail is extremely tough. If you lack experience please use another trail. Take special care at the cascades to avoid tragic results.” Not one to be intimidated by a sign, we moved on, stopping for a picture of course.
Shortly after we started, we ran into our first test. With all of the snow and the new warm weather, the brook of Beaver Brook Trail, had turned into a raging river. In reality, there was no way to cross, it was up past our waist. After a good five minutes of searching, there was some hope in the form of a broken down tree that had fallen over the brook.
Ironically, I am slightly afraid of heights. Granted, this tree was not entirely looming over the brook, but it was slick and narrow. Dave easily walked across as if he had not a care in the world. Not wanting to be left behind, I found my own way of crossing. I hugged that tree for dear life and inched across. Just a side note: realizing on the way down, how silly it was to be afraid of falling off this tree – I ran across it on our way back.
After making our way to the base of the mountain, there was something quite noticeable happening to the trail. It was changing color from a wet, dark brown all the way to a blinding white. Yes, there was snow. What was so helpful however, was that the majority of winter hikers (and thank goodness people were crazy enough to hike in winter) had packed down the main part of the trail. So if we kept in the center of the trail, we just walked on the snow, like it was an extension of the hard, dirt ground.
As time went on, we started to hear the rush of water, so loud it was almost deafening – we came upon the fore-mentioned cascades. I have never seen such a breathtaking sight. With all the snow melting, the water was so powerful and bursting beyond its normal path. While walking beside this magnificent bit of nature, it happened. Dave stepped off the trail, toward the cascades.
A full leg deep, in snow, he was stuck. I could not stop laughing. It was such a funny sight that I snapped a photo to remember our unusual experience. Then of course, I helped him up. Apparently, karma did not think my response so funny, because a little over a half hour later, I was in the same situation.
So, there I was. Stuck in snow and it was less funny when it was me. Of course, now it was Dave’s turn to laugh, which in turn made me laugh. Until, I realized how cold snow was on bare flesh and immediately attempted to get out of that little leg sized hole I had made.
Once we reached the Beaver Brook Shelter, we thought it best to turn around. This is because despite our thirst for danger and adventure, we also wanted to live to hike this mountain again. With only snacks and water, no warm clothes, and the realization that the descent would be a great deal more slippery, we thought it best to turn around and try our luck another day.
But despite, our premature descent, that is a memory that we always call upon when thinking of our many hikes together. We also will use that as a resource when we hike the AT in three years, because despite the amazing sensation of being adventurous and trying something new, safety is a very important factor of enjoying the wild.
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