# 10: I'm thankful for our (Jill and I, that is) first ever "winter hike" up around Boulder Loop, which was also Valentine's Day. The wind was very strong that day, as it always is in the White Mountains during the winter months. We rucked our snowshoes up and around which made us feel like "true, hardcore" hikers. Hanging out on the ledges was cold, but sharing the moment up there, snuggled together, warmed us both up. It was a great hike and memorable day!
#10 Clouded views off the cold ledges at the top of Boulder Loop
# 9: I'm thankful for my hike with my good friend Alex, up to the beautiful summit of Mount Moosilauke. It was an early May hike and I didn't know what to expect. It was my first 4000 footer for the year and the plan was to use this hike to gauge where I was (fitness wise) for the upcoming hiking season. I've never experienced winds like we experienced from the west, that day. It was blowing so hard, it literally knocked us off our feet. It was also the first time I have ever experienced rime ice, which was very cool. I truly felt like I accomplished something amazing that day and I will never forget this trek.
#9 View up to the summit of Mount Moosilauke from the Old Carriage Road
# 8: I'm thankful that I got to accompany my good friend Sean, up to his first summit bid, to the peak of Mount Potash. Climbing a mountain for the first time is a special thing. On this hike, Sean got to experience high winds, high brook crossings, ledges, great views, different forest landscapes...you name it. I hope he had as great of a time as I did.
# 7: I'm thankful for my hike up Mount Kearsarge (South) with Jill earlier in the season. It was a beautiful day and we took some great pictures of wildflowers. I was particularly intrigued by a rock wall on the southern side of the summit which had a lot of carvings on it. A particular symbol of a square and compass caught my eye, since I am a Freemason. I love masonic symbolism and history, so it should be no surprise that I think of this rock carving on a frequent basis and wonder who chipped away at it and when.
#7 A weathered square and compass carved into the summit of Mount Kearsarge. A Freemason was here at one time or another!
# 6: I'm thankful that Jill and I were able to take an early morning hike in Acadia National Park while vacationing in Bar Harbor. This vacation was very important to us, as I recall us being very stressed at this point in the summer. We needed to relax and unwind, so what better way than to climb the dreaded Beehive. I was so proud of Jill, as she conquered her fears and made her way up the almost vertical trail and stood on the top of the world (well, what seemed to be the top of the world for us, at the time)!
# 5: I'm thankful for the day I spent with my wife on October 10th. We hiked the small mountain, Mount Katherine in the height of the foliage colors. We relaxed on the summit, all by ourselves and took in the beauty of the area. We then took a ride up Route 16 and experienced true "leaf peepers" from all over...which was very amusing. Finally, we drove around Jackson, our future retirement location, and had a great time checking out the pumpkin people. A small mountain and some autumn colors made up one of my favorite days this year with my wonderful wife.
# 4: I'm thankful that Jill and I made it to the top of Mount Cardigan and survived the dreaded upper portion of the Holt Trail in icy and snowy conditions (which I should add, we had no business being on). We didn't expect this trail to be as difficult as it was, especially in its current state. By the time we realized we were in over our heads, it was too late to turn back. We did push through and did make it to the summit, however, we were extremely worried while on the trail. By the time we got back to the Jeep, we reflected on the scary experience and were very proud of ourselves for persevering. We smiled, turned up the radio, started singing Chicken Fried with the Zac Brown Band, and watched the trailhead get smaller in the rear view mirror. It was a great day!
# 3: I'm thankful that Jill and I were able to summit Mount Jackson and Mount Webster after a failed attempt due to weather. The day we finally made it was August 7th, my birthday. Jill and I saw breathtaking views of the Presedentials we hadn't experienced before from other peaks and had gray jays eating from our hands. It was another perfect day with my baby!
# 2: I'm thankful to my good friend, Matt, for hiking Mount Flume and Mount Liberty with me via the intimidating Flume Slide Trail. Matt is the most experienced hiker I know, and if it wasn't for him guiding me, I don't think I would have made it up without having a heart attack. I also found a new favorite peak. I was amazed at how beautiful Mount Liberty's summit was. Most of all, though, I enjoyed the time I spent with my buddy on the trail. It was a lot of fun and reminded me of hiking around the college campus as we did many years ago.
# 1: Finally, I'm thankful for my Franconia Ridge hike with Jill, which took us over the summits of Little Haystack Mountain, Mount Lincoln, and Mount Lafayette. You see, the day of this hike was our third anniversary. It really didn't matter what Jill and I did that day, as long as we were together. Of course, the Franconia Ridge was a wonderful way to spend it. Although, most people may be surprised that my favorite part of the hike wasn't the beautiful views from the Ridge. But instead, it was sitting on the back porch of the Greenleaf Hut, taking a break from our descent from Mount Lafayette. We were utterly exhausted and quiet, sipping on some water and munching on some trail mix. Gazing up at the peak of Mount Lafayette made the moment very peaceful and I was happy to share it with the one I love. It was the best anniversary yet!
Looking back at these hikes, one thing is common amongst them. The hikes and mountains are great. I cherish them and would climb them each and everyday if I could. However, sharing the hikes with my good friends and most of all, my best friend, Jill, is really what I'm thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!