The start of 2018 ripped me out of my mountain paradise in Europe and threw me dead center into the heart of New York City, just two blocks away from Times Square. The project that brought me there promised to help countless people across the world, but required for me to hole up in the concrete jungle. It helped me focus and accomplish one of the greatest feats of my adult life, but it left me starving for nature, physical activity, and bad weather.
Well, winter was not waiting for me and the ice was rapidly disintegrating. In a last minute sprint up the east coast, I crash landed in Maine where my friends were already preparing for the trail. I remember a bed, but I think I only had time to look at it before darting out the door and jumping into the car before the sun even thought about stirring. Soon we were pulling into Pinkham Notch Visitor Center’s parking lot and tossing on our gear.
I can’t even begin to express how much joy I felt. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t slept, or that I felt completely out of shape, or that we may have been hiking up the mountain only to learn that there was no ice left – and would be hiking down again without even opening our packs! The only thing that mattered to me was that I was out there, nature wrapping me in its embrace, and making me feel like I was outdoors. We arrived to fog, got pelted with snow on the way up, saw the sun twice, and then got freezing rain on the way down. This was my first time experiencing freezing rain – super cooled liquid that would freeze upon impact and produce a paper-thin layer of ice all over everything. My jacket, camera, lens, glasses, gloves, pack, everything had a sharp wet film that would shatter when flexed.
It was glorious in every way, the type of experience I look for every time I’m outdoors. Oh, and the ice climbing wasn’t bad either.