Around 4:30 AM I was awoken by a throbbing toothache, a commonality between the last few nights. I laid in bed for a few hours and watched the sunrise. It looked like the beginning of a beautiful winter day. By 8:30 AM I was up and moving around. I emptied out the notebooks from my backpack and threw in some snacks, microspikes, and extra layers. The forecasted high temperature of the day hovered around 20 degrees. I texted my hiking partner for the day and finished getting ready. By 9:30 we were in the car and on our way to the trailhead. Once there, we stepped out onto an icy dirt road and absorbed the mountainous view that surrounded us. To our left was a farm with an idyllic red barn and a mountain looming overhead. We started on the trail and to our surprise a packed trail with little ice. A few days before, the area received vast amounts of rain and a flash freeze, so we expected much different conditions.
Within five minutes of hiking, we came to a stream crossing. The stream was roaring and you could see how high the water had been the past few days by the chunks of the snowbank missing. Across the stream were a couple of rocks and a narrow ice bridge. At this moment, I had regretted not bringing my poles. After intricate maneuvering, we had made it across. The trail quickly picked up in elevation and just as quickly, I was reminded of how out of shape I am. The forest was breathtaking (from the view and from the freezing air). The sun danced between the trees as we walked the ridge. Time seemed to drag but also fly as we continued up the mountain.
We reached the summit within two hours and stopped at an outlook to admire some lenticular clouds. The physical summit was less than exciting, it was a simple cairn in the trees. We started down the trail and it seemed that in no time we were back to the tricky stream and then back to the car. I took off my microspikes and sat in the passenger seat to try revitalize my frozen legs. I took a deep breath and savored in that post-hike feeling. The feeling of success with a hint of tiredness. A feeling that I intend to feel again next week.