Friday, August 13, 2010

Way Tow and the Osceolas

I was in New Hampshire earlier in the week, bridging a scheduling gap in sweet B’s network of love and adoration. She and I had a terrific time making rude noises and singing “Twinkle-Twinkle”. We took a walk, hung out at a café, and spent a lot of time watching various Sesame Street versions of the ABC Song. I can report that she can now shout, “Ray Charles!” (or “Way Tow!”) when the Genius appears and begins his alphabet riffs.

On Tuesday, schedule resolved, I headed north to tackle another pair of the New Hampshire 4,000-footers, this time the Osceolas. The day was warm and humid, but much less oppressive than for the Hancocks a few weeks ago. The walk up Mt. Osceola itself is woodsy, rugged, and rocky, but easy—notably less steep than the paths up most other 4,000s. It was a bit hazy at the top, and though the views from the two ledges were expansive (you can see most of the other big White Mountain peaks), they weren’t snappy or especially photo-worthy (a good thing, because I was using H’s camera, and neglected to upload my photos before coming home). I made the 3.2 miles from the parking area to the peak in just under two hours, chatted with two couples I met there, and headed down into the notch toward East Osceola. This mile of the trail is rougher and tougher, with several scrambles, including one chimney serious enough to give inexperienced walkers second thoughts. After bottoming out and heading upwards again, I walked right past the summit, marked by an unprepossessing cairn in the woods north of the trail. I turned back to find it only after realizing I was headed downhill again. With a spotted car on the Kancamagus Highway, I could have continued down toward Greeley Ponds—a stiffer route altogether—but I was solo and simply retraced my steps to Osceola for a little lunch. (Those rough spots are much easier to climb than descend—at least for us stiff and creaky old guys.) The downward trail was, as always for me in these situations, a bit of a trial. It’s not that interesting or attractive, and I’d just walked up it. I was pleased to pop out of the woods at just before 3 pm, for an easy and mostly very pleasant round trip of just shy of five hours.

Later that evening, I accompanied H, B, and Jasper the Wonderdog to the local pool, where Jasper and I watched as mother and daughter waded in. B gradually got comfortable playing with her mom in water well above her waist, and when she emerged, she proudly proclaimed, “In BIG wawer!” Then home for a laugh-filled bubblebath before bed.

Cruising the hills is great, but if there’s anything more purely joyful than being a grandfather, I don’t know what it is.

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