Before I arrived, Robin has asked me if I want to go hiking. I explain my current fitness, and that I am carrying too much weight for anything too strenuous, but that I should be able to handle a walk of about 4-5 miles. After all, I have been doing more than that each day while walking around Washington.
Of course, city walking is not the same as hiking, and what we end up doing is more extreme than hiking.
We drive to Franconia Notch State Park, in the White Mountains, about 100 miles north of Nashua. Franconia Notch is where the Old Man of the Mountain, a natural rock formation in the shape of a profile, could be seen. Alas, the Old Man is no longer there, due to a rockslide in recent years.
We take the aerial tramway up Cannon mountain, which travels a horizontal distance of just one mile, but climbing vertically 2,022 feet to a summit 4,200 feet above sea level. We follow the path around the summit, admiring the view, and then have to decide – do we take the tram down, or do we walk back down by the Kinsman Ridge Trail?
I considered telling Robin and Jonathon to walk down, and I will take the tram, and meet them at the bottom. However, the trail doesn’t look too bad, and I want to do the walk, so I choose to go ahead.
Unfortunately, the trail doesn’t stay as simple as it starts – sandy paths gives way to granite rock to step over in many places – perfectly safe, but a lot more effort to walk over. I am finding it more tiring than I thought, but we just take it a bit easier.
We reach a point where, at our current pace, Jonathon thinks we only have another half hour or so to go. Unlike us, he didn’t eat breakfast, and is getting hungry. He asks if we mind if he goes on ahead, to grab a sandwich while we carry on slow but steady.
However, soon after he goes, my legs begin to give out. It’s not that I am tired exactly – I am not even out of breath – but I am using different muscles in going downhill and keeping my balance, and they have had enough. I can carry on, but I am less sure of my footing; and although there is absolutely no risk on this much used trail, the last thing I need is a twisted ankle – both there on the trail, and in the middle of my holiday.
So we take it slowly, with me sitting down whenever my legs demand it, and taking some of the larger steps by simply sitting down and sliding. Robin is great – not only patient, but chatting and joking, and although I am struggling along, I am stll enjoying myself.
Over two hours has passed since Jonathon left us, and I am beginning to wander when we will get to the end. Then there is a welcome sight – Jonathon coming back up the trail, with water and snack bars. At about the same time, Robin finds an excellent branch which can be used as a walking stick – I find it not only takes some weight off my legs, but it helps my balance, and gives me more confidence. I follow Robin and Jonathon down, and we arrive back at the Tramway centre. We get something to eat and drink, and I buy a t-shirt – not just as a souvenir, but because mine is soaked.
Robin is sorry for over-estimating her own level of fitness, which meant she thought this trail would be ok for me. I am a little sorry that I have held Robin and Jonathon up – it is hours later than expected, and we have to cancel our plans for driving further north in the afternoon.
However, no-one seems to mind that much, and the fact remains that I *have* walked that trail. In reflection, it was really more than I am currently capable of, but it also showed me that I am capable of walks far longer than I have been doing at home. I am very glad I decided to do it.
We drive back towards Nashua, stopping for Mexican food on the way back – I am never too tired toeat. I had a combination platter with enchiladas, tacos and refried beans, followed by a fried icecream with honey.
Jonathon drops us back to Robin’s, but can only stay a while – he is working tomorrow, while we are going to take on Boston.