Holiday Hiking

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What a quirky collection of beings we were, 10 humans and 5 dogs, coming down from the summit of the south mountain in Pawtuckaway State Park.  We had started with 7 dogs, but 2 immediately ran into the woods at the beginning of the hike and “won’t be back until tonight,” Mark said.

David, Sam and I had planned to hike Pawtuckaway with Will and his family the Friday before Christmas, but the boys ended up playing basketball all morning, followed by lunch at Johnson’s where Sam and Mike (also home in Northwood visiting for the holidays) worked for years, then decided to forego the hike and play disc golf instead.  But yesterday we did get the hike in.  Marianna had arrived from Knoxville the night before, and Will lives with Sam and Marianna in Knoxville, so it was also a chance for all of us to see the house where Will grew up.

We drove a long dirt road in from Rte. 107, past various trail heads in the State Park, all the way to the end, in front of Will’s family’s garage.  Hordes of dogs bounced around our car.  Will’s mother was just back from a ride on one of the 10 horses (4 hers, the others boarders) and needed to change to come with us.  Will’s sister was wearing her new boots, and was ready to hike.  Her recent move home, awaiting the next step in her veterinary career, increased the already large number of dogs living there to 9.  Mark, Will’s mother’s boyfriend, accounted for the cleared acres bounded by stone walls, a serious excavation playground for a serious machine man.  Sam says the land looks nothing like it did when he and Will were in high school together.

The top of Pawtuckaway has a fire tower, and from the top I was able to easily pick out the other small mountains we hike in this area — Nottingham, Parker, Fort, Saddleback.  The humans took turns going up the fire tower, so there would be a group at the bottom to keep the dogs from trying to climb the steep, open steps.  On our way down from the ledgy summit, we ran into Frank and his girlfriend, who had arrived late for the hike.  They’d driven part way up one of the roads, Frank got out to get his boots out of the trunk, realized they weren’t there, and hiked in his slippers.

Ten people, 5 dogs, one pair of slippers.  It was a lovely afternoon outing.

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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