Hiking Whiteface, what cures hopelessness

This morning I head up to the White Mountains to hike Mount Whiteface. I attempted her early this spring and turned around at the granite ledges because I seriously thought I would die. It was snowy and icy and I brought my dog. I wanted to live. So I turned around.

Now, June 1 I hike Blueberry Ledge solo. I want the peak. I am not sure what the day will hold for me; maybe Passaconway, too. But I don’t have a plan except to bag Whiteface.

The trailhead has a little history for me. Back in 1988 my boyfriend at the time took me to Sandwich and Wonalancet for a second-hike-ever to Whiteface. He told me that he wanted to be buried in Wonalancet because he loved the place so much. Now, so many years later I had a first kiss in the trailhead with a guy I really liked. Hmmphf. The mountains. The place where I felt reborn after not having any goals and not knowing what my life would be like after high school graduation – the most confusing time of my life. I feel for high school graduates.

June 1, 2019 – I’m running/hiking Blueberry Ledge for the third time in my life and I’m feeling great. One week after running 50 miles I feel like a million bucks….. Until I get to the ledges where I turned around a month ago. It is so steep and scary and I feel at any moment I will fall to my death. Okay, a little dramatic, but I’m not in love with this trail or this mountain in any way, shape or form. I somehow manage to scramble to the top and I’m pissed. The trail diverges and I don’t know where to go. I go left and then it doesn’t feel right. The view is amazing but I’m distracted. I take off my pack and look at the map and I have to decide where to go. I’m not going back the way I came; certain death. I decide to go the Rollins Trail and just go home. I know I should summit Passaconway, I’m so close. I’ll wait and see.

But my mood is dark. I’m mad. I’m pissed. It has more to do than the hike and certain death; I’m just mad.

I follow the trail and it meanders into dark, moody places along the ridge. I run when I can; I want out. I think about Leadville and how I will feel running downhill. Will there be as many rocks and roots? There will definitely be more people. I stop and eat and finally take a picture.

I’m praying and hoping the mountains change my mood but I’m mad. I want the mountains to change my mood; I want to be happy and hopeful – but I’m not. There are no people on this trail. I finally reach the trail junction where I can head to Passaconway or go down Dicey’s Mill Trail.

I chose home.

I run as much as I can and finish 9.7 miles back to my car. The parking lot is overfilling with cars. I only saw 5 people the entire day.

I actually came to do what I set out to but in the back of my mind it would’ve been good to get Passaconaway.

I stink. I’m mad. I drive home.

I walk down to the Concord Co-Op for dinner. My heart hurts for a million different reasons. I feel like a teenager whose heart is broken and my stomach aches. As I enter the store I hear the song, Let It Be from the Beatles.

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree

There will be an answer, let it be

I buy my food and walk home. I hear a line from a book I read so many times, so many years ago: Running From Safety, that reminds me –  take me out of the ball game, tell me it’s over, and I get instant perspective.

The anger, frustration is gone, gone. Instant perspective is all that I needed.

While the mountains didn’t cure me today, I’m still certain they will.

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