Mount Hale, Brettonwoods and Sugarloaf 2 CG 5-28-29-13
Mount Hale 4054’
4.4 Miles 2300’ Elevation gain
Hale Brook Trail
Kevin & Judy
After a cold, restless night we crawled out of the tent to a bright, beautiful spring morning in the mountains. We made tea and spent an hour or more walking in the campground and over to the beaver pond, looking for wildflowers and soaking in the early morning warmth. It was time, we got ready to hike our first 4k without a dog by our side since she was a pup over thirteen years ago. June nineteenth in 2000 Emma hiked her first 4k, Mount Hale with us and some friends and family. Judy never hiked again without her, and I can only think of a handful of times I went without her, more often it was she and I while Judy worked.
We have wanted to find our way up the Firewarden’s Trail for a long time, but decided today wasn’t the day. We retraced the steps we had taken thirteen years ago with her, and several times since, in each season along the Hale Brook Trail. Like the day before on the Sugarloafs I could see her in my mind along the trail, her waiting at the top of a short, steep scramble, or wading in a brook crossing, lapping at the water as she cooled herself off. Quickly melting snow from two nights previous had the brooks flowing well, and some water where it was unexpected. “Well Emm, we wouldn’t have had to worry about water for you today.” we could picture her rolling in the slushy snow that still lay in the shadows of the woods.
When we had reached the trailhead we were surprised to see several cars on a Tuesday, people that all had the same idea. On our ascent we passed all of them on their way down. Thought we might have the summit to ourselves, but as we arrived, so did some backpackers from Zealand Hut. Their plans of a hut to hut from Greenleaf to Zealand had been thwarted by the wintery weather and high water. We spent an hour or more with them in the warm sun and they were nice enough to take some pictures for us.
The return trip was uneventful, “There, we had done it.” Thoughts still drifted to Emma, our processes right now are to retrain ourselves for life without her which will be long and difficult as she was an integral part of all we did, indeed, of who we are. Back at the campsite we realized the hiking was easier than being still. With nothing to concentrate on, the mind easily drifted to our grief. We tried to stay busy, we drove down to Woodstock Station to eat, and for a diversion, something we wouldn’t have done with Emma. I would rather have her than the freedom to visit restaurants I thought I was missing when we wouldn’t leave her behind and always ate in the campsite. Someday, maybe we’ll be able to reconcile all of this.