Lets talk about “Monorail”. Not fast elevated train but rather the slow lingering snow and ice pack along mountain hiking trails that thaw and refreeze and thaw and refreeze creating a thin edge that one must walk on like a balance beam if one wants to hike in the White Mountains in May.
The White Mountain Trail reports are currently filled with descriptions of mud, ice, high water, and “unstable monorail” meaning that this snowy balance beam is melting and during this time, it is easy to fall off of it or sink in it. Its not like a huge cliff or anything but its like this weird added obstacle to trails to that are already seriously challenging in terms of rocks, roots, steepness, exposure, etc…
While there is still snow in New Hampshire, and while the summit of Mt Washington got a few new feet just last week, overall there is not enough snow for snow shoes yet whats left of the snow can be a little mushy so potholing is still a thing (meaning, when your foot sinks thru the snow).
Regardless, hikers are out there at all times of the year in all conditions and some of them write detailed trail reports daily describing the “monorail”, mud, ice, wet/slick/water on trail. I use these trail reports to help make decisions about whether or not to go for it and to get a sense of what to expect seasonally.. I try to avoid hiking in the spring because I don’t really enjoy taking my micro spikes on and off 100 times or sinking in deep mud and navigating melty monorail. I did enjoy some of the winter hikes I did this past season where there was a nice snow packed trail and I could just put on my spikes and keep them on. If theres fresh snow I prefer cross country skiing to snowshoe hiking. Once the snow melts I prefer to wait for a dryer trail which means late May but really June. I’ve also been waiting for the perfect combination of a warmer ocean, sunshine and waves to dust off my surfboard and flail around at sea.
In the meantime, while I keep a close eye on the surf reports and the New Hampshire Trail reports I take many walks in my local Arboretum and sometimes in the nearby Blue Hills. Spring in Boston is blowing my mind. I’ve been watching the buds break open, the conifers growing baby red pinecones, the bees pollenating, the ants eating the sugars, the hawks and cardinals and robins forage for food, the waters rise and fall. The changes are fast. If I miss too many days in a row of visiting the Arboretum I feel uneasy. I watched the lilacs bud and bloom day to day and enjoyed them under bright blue skies in full peak bloom before they quickly withered away. Oh impermanence! How you keep my eyes glassy!
The other thing I am doing right now is working as much as I can. I’m saving up for something big in addition to wanting to free myself up this summer in order to hike and surf and be outside enjoying beautiful New England for all its summer glory. As I climb up and down my ladder I imagine that I am training for the mountains.
On my lunch breaks I scroll thru my phone and live vicariously through a few long distance hiking blogs. More specifically, I am following Little Bear Stumbles who I met on the Long Trail last summer. Little Bear is currently hiking Northbound on the Appalachian Trail from Harpers Ferry. I’m hoping I might bump into Little Bear on the trail once she makes it up to New England!
I’m also following Scissors who I met in Portland Oregon on my recent visit. Scissors is hiking Northbound on the Pacific Crest Trail and writes from the experience of being queer, femme and having never gone backpacking before. She is totally entertaining and inspiring!
I got big plans in the works and a lot to look forward to. Trying to stay present and grounded even though my head wants to float up to outer space. Today I smeared some Norway Spruce sap all over my hat on a morning walk so I could take some coniferous goodness with me back to my many tasks to remind me to be grateful and here. Fortunately sap is very sticky.