Last night after checking trail conditions and the hour by hour weather forecast, Charlie and I decided that today we would hike Mt. Garfield.
There are 48 peaks on the official list of New Hampshire mountains that top out at over 4000 feet. Over his many years as wilderness director at Camp Calumet, Charlie climbed many of the peaks and when we got married in August, 2006, we started hiking them together.
When our hiking season ended last fall, Charlie still had one more to go--Mt. Garfield--and today was the day. We e-mailed Tom to see if he could join us, but he and Atticus had hiked on Saturday in the 90+ heat and felt that a day to recuperate was necessary.
Mt. Garfield is at the northern edge of the Pemigewasset Wilderness which is one of the most precious treasures of northern New England.
The trail was 5 miles to the summit with a 3000 foot elevation gain. Many of the trails we hike have a 1 mile: 1000 foot gain ratio, so this one seemed gentle enough for my first hike of the season.
I had especially remembered Tom's slideshow from his winter hike up Garfield and all along the trail tried to remember the music and reconcile the snowy scenes in the slideshow with the heat, humidity and bugs that were our experience. Despite the heat, humidity and bugs, though, this hike easily made it into my list of favorite hikes. Texican--you need to start training because this is the one you are taking the next time you come north.
The views from the top of Mt. Garfield were spectacular. According to the guidebook, 30 of the 4000 footer peaks are visible from the summit. It was so much fun to be able to identify the peaks and remember the hikes that accomplished them. I still have nine left on my list of 48, but Charlie is able to tell a story about every peak--he didn't tell them all as we basked in the sun on the summit cone but I expect over the next several months, he will.
Reluctantly, we headed off the top as clouds gathered in the west bringing fears of a thunderstorm. The hike down took as long as the hike up--I never understand why that is.
When we situated our sweaty bodies in the car, I said "there's something on our windshield and it looks like an envelope and I think it says Charlie and Beth on it" It was a friendly note of congratulations from Tom who had driven from his home in Lincoln to the trailhead in Bethlehem in order to deliver it--how did he even know which car was ours? With gas at $4 a gallon it was certainly an enormous act of kindness--Thank you, Tom.
Congratulations, Charlie. You chose an awesome way to view art. It has struck me many times that fewer people have seen the enormous beauty from the summits than have seen the works of DaVinci.