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.