Any month that includes two trips above tree line is a good one. Earlier this month, David, Anne and I hiked up Mt. Garfield, making our way easily up the 10 miles of trail to a clear summit. Earlier this week, David, Anne and I hiked again, this time with five other friends, to celebrate my 6oth birthday. We climbed Mt. Carragain, again 10 miles and only 250 feet of additional elevation gain over the 3,000 it takes to get to the summit of Garfield. But the trail is far gnarlier, with rocks and roots and straight ascents up Signal Ridge, rather than the mostly even footing up the switchbacks of Garfield. It was not an easy hike, but it was glorious. When we got to an opening on the ridge with views down into Carragain Notch, we stopped for lunch and a birthday celebration. Alison had brought cake, she lit a candle, and a group of young men and women, on an orientation trip from Yale, joined in singing “Happy Birthday” to me.
It was just what I wanted to celebrate this milestone birthday. Not a big deal, but really, a big deal — a day in the mountains with friends, savoring good conversations, a challenging but satisfying stretch of my muscles and strength, and long views off into the waves of mountain ridges, blue fading into smoky gray then climbing back up into bluer sky.