The man and I walked Crawford Path along the Presidential Ridge in the White Mountains yesterday. It was a glorious day — clear, dry, windy, with enough sunshine to fill a week.
“The man?” My daughter used to refer to her then boyfriend, then fiance, now husband as “the boy” in her blog Are You Really Interested. The man’s son’s girlfriend is blogging from her stint on an organic B&B farm in France right now (What We Feel Most) and calls her guy “the boy.” I asked my daughter what that’s about. “I think it’s a 20s-something thing.” I’m in my 50s, the man is in his 60s, so “boy” seems ridiculous. So does “the man.” He’s David.
David and I are up in the mountains for two days hiking. We’d planned to summit Monroe, then Eisenhower, giving us a chance to walk across the open Presidential Ridge, a rocky, scrambly, view-infused walk. We changed plans at the last minute and went up Edmand’s Path, thinking we’d only get to the top of Eisenhower, maybe walk a bit towards Monroe if we had the time and energy.
But when we got to the ridge, we decided just to walk Crawford Path. We had half a thought of making it to the summit of Monroe, but we never got there. We trekked north, buffeted by the crazy winds sweeping up the gulfs to the west, over the ridge, winds which have made the Presidentials notorious for hiking deaths in every month of the year. There were grey-green lichen washed rocks, scrub spruce, alpine plants, an ant, a caterpillar, a butterfly, Mount Monroe a 5,000 foot triangle of granite blocks in our faces, the Mt. Washington observatory and buildings rising over 6,000 feet behind.
When we turned south to hike back to Edmand’s Path, all the White Mountains to the south and east and west were layered in mountain blue before us. Wave after wave of peaks cut the sky, hard blue and whipped clear. I could easily pick out the mountains, having hiked many of them in my completed quest to join the 4,000 footer club. A jut of rock to the immediate south was Chocorua, which we’d just hiked on Sunday.
Walking out on Edmand’s Path we walked into forever. Feet screaming, legs aching and pulling back against the gravity that feels like it will roll you down the ridge, every dip and turn in the trail just showed more trail. Sunlight through the spruce, then pine, than hardwoods highlighted the rocks and roots ready to trip us. Step after step got us closer, but we could only think about how far it seemed. “This trail sure is taking its sweet time coming to an end,” David said. And then it did. We crossed the bridges I remembered from the beginning of the hike and then I saw the flash of metal, cars, through the trees. Forever was over.