Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Trails

Our hike up Mt. Carrigain was much more fulfilling and beautiful compared to much of the others. Not only because of the crisp gushing rivers, the panoramic views from the fire tower, or Washington’s regal snow capped summit. With our trek up this peak we had a guest who means more to me than any of these mountains; Cullen’s mom (my fiancĂ©e) accompanied us up this impressive mount. What I saw during this hike was a little dog bringing happiness, inspiration, and fun to others. Cullen has a way of leading me to moments that last a lifetime, and to the people that help make these memories worthwhile.

As we strived for the summit, we came upon the ridge just before the final climb to the very ice-coated peak. This is where we met two amazing souls, Ellen and Sharon. Although we met several people during our time on the Signal Ridge Trail, these two women gave off such admirable energy. They were more than impressed with Cullen’s hiking achievements; however, I was more impressed with hearing what they had to say. I loved hearing about their senior dogs, Ellen’s Spaniel and Sharon’s toy poodle, and how they only wished they could experience the mountains with their best friends. These two ladies were more than a pleasure to meet, and it would be great to cross paths with them again.

Sarah hardly graces us with her presence on our mountain adventures, but today was different. Today I saw willingness in her that I hadn’t yet seen. Lately, she has be taken back, as I have, with the support and following of Cullen’s Travels, so I believe she wanted to experience the intense friendship that is shared on our hikes, while at the same time bask in the peace and isolation the summit air offers. Sitting atop Mt. Carrigain the view was more precious and gratifying than it has ever been. Seeing her smile at the pinnacle eliminated the priceless beauty these views already had to offer. I experienced a feeling I hadn’t yet shared with her. A feeling indescribable in words, but I felt as though everything else in that moment of time no longer mattered; time was non-existent. All that counted was the insurmountable love I have for her and Cullen, and that is something neither time nor distraction will ever take away.

Throughout our hike, every time we would exchange the lead with fellow hikers, I witnessed such joy in their faces at the site of Cullen. Almost everyone would put their hiking goals on pause, and aim their attention at a small reddish tan Min Pin. A sight most of them admitted they wouldn’t expect to see, but a sight that is worth the witnessing. Cullen will soon be the smallest dog to ever accomplish hiking these 48 peaks, and this is something all fellow hikers admire.

There is no doubt in my mind the pleasures I have on these adventures would never have been if not for Cull dog. Meeting Ellen and Sharon and hearing all about the great things they had to share would have been a conversation never had, seeing Sarah conquer one of the largest and more challenging summits NH has to offer would have been a journey not yet taken, and seeing the happiness of our fellow hikers as they stopped to meet Cullen would be absent, and they would just pass us by as they did the few before. Cullen is a dog that has brought more to life than just the expected. He has guided me to the unanticipated pleasures the world has tucked away; unmasking my blinded eyes so that I can observe the truest kind of happiness. This is something I will always be grateful for. Cullen’s presence on these hikes will forever make for happy trails.

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail"

Monday, May 20, 2013

Back To A Balance

I’ve never really believed in superstitions. I always trusted in the free will of this world where we are all living a life unplanned, and never truly believed in the “Everything happens for a reason” statement. However, Cullen has started to open my eyes to a much larger aspect of this life I have yet to understand.

Lately life has been pushing and pulling me in several different directions, and the stress of it all was beginning to take a toll on my mental and physical well being. The attempted hike up Isolation Friday was meant to provide me with the open space and seclusion needed to bring things back to a balance, but unfortunately the dangerously snowy and unrelenting trail forced us to turn back just shy of the summit. As we woke today the inspiration to hike was dwindling, and I almost decided to take the day to sit around the house and relax; what a horrible idea that would have been! Thanks to Cullen’s enthusiasm and eagerness to hike I packed up and we made our way to Mt. Zealand.

The hike up was nothing less than perfect. As we ascended Zealand Trail, which was mostly a smooth gravel path until we reached Zealand Falls, we met several different dogs and their humans. Cullen even seemed to befriend a beautiful English Chocolate Lab named Grizzly Bear (he wasn’t as tough as his name sounded). As we continued to make our way, Grizzly Bear decided to depart from his pack of people and hike with us. Cull dog and Grizzly took turns chasing each other down the trail, but Cullen always stopped just before the point where he couldn’t see or hear me. This is when he would end the chase and bolt back as if to tell me that even though he made a new friend I was still his number one.

time spent with our new friend lasted what seemed like only moments. He shortly decided to turn back and continue with his crew. As Cull dog and I continued we quickly reached Zealand Falls and the hut. The waterfalls we absolutely purifying, and as we sat there for a short break I felt some of my tension wash away with the crashing of the river’s torrents. There is so much to be said for resting your mind and body amongst gushing water, iridescent sunshine, whispering winds, and the love of a best friend.

The rest of the hike up the mountain wouldn't be as smooth. As we trekked along a steady rocky incline through a dark forest full of white birch trees mixing perfectly with conifers, giving way to a primeval look and feel, Cullen stayed in the lead motivating me each and every time he gave a look back to check in. “I’m coming big dog” I would say and he would be off, trotting down trail and navigating his way from rock to rock until it was time to check in again.

We reached the Zeacliff outlook in fair time. These views are what made the hike up Zealand worth it, taking in the fact the actual summit is completely surrounded by trees with absolutely no views. The views here provide an indescribable observation over the Pemigewasset Wilderness. The focal point of this vista was without a doubt Mt. Carrigan. Its rounded dome-like summit towers over the rest in the range, and captures your attention with its undemanding magnificence.

As we sat looking out at the diluted colors of greens, reds, and browns and feeling the calm winds brush by  I realized a theme I hadn't yet come to see, mostly due to my ignorance and lack of effort. There was no mistake in that Cullen came into my life just months before the passing of my mother, there was no mistake I pursued the happiness the forest brought him, and there was no mistake he ensured we made our way to the mountains that day. Cullen has been there each and every time I needed, not sympathy or understanding, but companionship, seclusion, and exploration. He has protected me through such dark and fragile times. Always putting himself in the way of my off-putting moments and leading me back to myself. When all is said and done I trust that he was meant to be my friend, planned by something beyond my intellectual capacity. This 16lb Min Pin was meant to be my protector, and I will continue to trail him from path to path because I know he will continue to lead me back to a sense of balance; back to the person I was meant to be.

As I mentioned earlier, life has been steering me in all kinds of directions, and life has a tendency to push and pull now and then, however when that time comes I only wish you all have a friend as committed as I do to lead you onward. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day. Everyday

Mother’s Day is a day to recognize the true beauty our mom’s present and appreciate all that they are. There is no doubt there are many characteristics our mothers have we do not agree with, however seeing past these traits and loving them immensely is what truly matters.

Mother’s Days is not about saying “thanks and I love you” because the look in your eyes and touch of your affection will describe your care for her more clearly, it’s not about buying them a gift because your time and understanding is priceless, and it’s not about taking them out because just having you and seeing your happiness fulfills their souls beyond our comprehension. Take the day to recognize your mother for all that she is.

Therefore, tomorrow we will be hiking to the top of Zealand Mountain to feel the presence of Bonnie J. Witham. A mother lost too soon. This Mother’s Day we will recognize her for the strength, perseverance, patience, discipline, and most importantly her unconditional love.

May you all have the chance to hold tight the ones who gave you this life, who showed you the true meaning of love, and who deserves to be told how special they are everyday of the year; not just one!