The White Mountains pull me towards them like a super magnet. They stay with me. They are in me. They intoxicate me. Every time I drive into their various notches I feel uneasy. Once I’m walking on their foothills I feel the relief set in. My constant low level anxiety starts to dissipate. I take in the vitality of the trees. I think about the loggers from the 1800’s who lived on the trails and then left with the ancient trees. I think about the many people who have died in and around and on top of these mountains. I reminisce of my life before this one and wonder what my next lifetime will bring. I hear music and voices and unexplainable sounds in these woods. I don’t question it. I just listen and take it in.
I took the “Cherub” (aka my partners daughter “A”) up to New Hampshire for some outdoor fun. She is off from school for winter break after ace-ing her first semester. Go A! Stud lent us her xc skis and boots for A to use. We headed north early on Thursday stopping at the infamous Red Arrow Diner in Manch-Vegas and then drove towards Lake Winnipesaukee to the Wolfeboro Cross Country Ski track. We did a few loops and then headed to “Funspot”, a massive trashy yet vintage arcade where we played all the race car games. After cashing in our ski ball tickets for candy we drove up into Franconia Notch to these tiny cabins on the side of the road right on the Pemigewasset River. They got fireplaces and they were built in the 40s. Family owned. Super cute. We made a fire and relaxed and watched some trashy tv and then retired in our prospective rooms where the rushing river lulled us to sleep.
Woke up to a light dusting on Friday and headed to the Lincoln Woods to ski on the East Branch Trail. It was quiet and the sun ominously lit up parts of the surrounding snow capped beasts. We crossed a few nice new foot bridges over various creeks. The last time I was on the East Branch side on the Lincoln Woods was June of 2013 on a short backpacking trip. My friends and I hiked into the Franconia Brook Tent Sight at dusk and then woke up and crossed the big river. It had been a snowy winter and the water was raging. The depths looked deceiving and half way across I found myself in thigh deep frigid pools between fast moving white water praying to stay upright and make it across with a dry pack. We all made it across and sat on the other wide our legs red and stinging from the cold water and our adrenaline pumping. There use to be a 180 foot suspension bridge connecting the East Side to the Wilderness Trail but it was dismantled in 2009 because of safety issues. It was built in 1962 just two years before Wilderness Act of 1964. It was not replaced because it is in a federally designated wilderness area.
We meandered home on the Daniel Webster Highway taking in the views of the mountains and the ramshackle cottages on the side of the road. We stopped in a ski store and I asked to look at some “mens” cross country boots. The sales clerk paused and with great concern, he explained the difference in sizing of men’s and women’s boots. I asked again for the boots. I asked for zero advice. I just asked for the boots. He began to ask irrelevant questions and went into great detail explaining the difference between men’s and women’s feet. I started to glaze over. I pushed back a bit explaining that not all women’s feet are narrow and given the limited selection of “women’s” boots and “women’s” styles I was not interested in women’s boots and I asked again if he could please just bring out some mens boots in my size. He finally did but not without taking great offense at his decades of proffessional boot sales being questioned. Where to begin…Why does clothing have to be so gendered…especially boots and hats and gloves. Not all women are slight and want to wear magenta. Not all men are tall and have big feet. I have never worn women’s clothing because I don’t like the styles or the colors or the way things are often “fitted”. I like deep pockets, darker colors and room. I am more comfortable in “men’s” clothing and always have been. I did not ask for advice about the boots. I do not ask permission to wear my clothing of choice and I choose not to conform as a result of my preferences. Its times like these that I would like to declare this Island of Misfits (as Seven has so eloquently named it) a wilderness area and remove all the bridges. We’ll have to start a clothing line.