Date of hike: 11/8
Time Started: 9am
Time Completed: 1pm

I meant to post this earlier this week but am just now getting around to it. Sorry!

This was the first real hike I had done since Mt. Moosilauke on August 8th - our year hadn't been going very well already when my father had to go in for surgery at the end of July and was struggling to recover. My mother's health, which had also been failing was really starting to decline as the month of August continued on. I had wanted to get out and hike, as this is such a huge stress reliever for me, but at the same time I knew that if I was gone for an entire day, something would happen and I wouldn't be close to home.

The last week in August I had a vacation and Mike and I had planned on hiking a few times during the week. Instead I spent most of the week on conference calls with doctors and dreading every phone call I received as my mother's health was progressively getting worse. August 26th was my mother's birthday, and as I visited with her in the hospital I had a bad feeling. Sunday August 30th at 2:10am, my mother passed away with myself, two of my sisters and my niece by her side. It was one of the most difficult moments I have ever dealt with in my life.

That Thursday, September 3rd (the day of my mother's funeral) I was awoken at 4am with a text message that my father had passed away at 2:15 that morning. Four days and 5 minutes apart. I have never been so overwhelmed in my life.

As the time has been passing since that week, I have been anxious to get out and hike, but also sad as I know I can never tell my mom about any of our trips. I can't show her the pictures that we took and tell her about the experience. I have gone out a few times since then, but have not completed the hike, so I knew this time I had to get out and finish.

The weather was supposed to be perfect but as we started getting close to Crawford Notch it was cloudy and a little dark. But once we started hiking another check of the sky revealed bright blue skies. I was relieved to find the stream crossings on this trail to be running calm (a few other times I have been on this trail the water was definitely a lot higher), and thankfully there was no ice on the trail at all. It was wet and muddy in a lot of places, but as the ground is starting to get hard it wasn't too bad. I was really winded when we got to the junction with the Avalon cut off; it had been so long since I had been out - but I was determined to get to the top of Mt. Tom - especially since this was my second attempt - and I hadn't completed it the first time last year!

The mile stretch between the Avalon cut off and the turn off for Mt. Tom felt very long to me. The trail was in good shape, still wasn't any sign of ice, (even though the ground was definitely frozen here) and there really wasn't any snow at all to speak of. After finally reaching the junction, and knowing I had only .5 miles left to go - I found some extra energy and pushed on. It wasn't long before Mike directed me to the side view point and I was able to see how clear and beautiful the day had become. There was still a few lingering clouds over Mt. Washington; but the sky still had that incredible deep blue you only see in the fall/winter. The temp at the top was in the 30's and it would have been very uncomfortable without the winter hat/gloves.

After taking in that view for a few minutes we continued around the corner to the official summit - I had made it!! Another 4,000 footer for my list - and a hike I completed for the first time in almost three months! I was so thrilled - and so glad that I had made it. The wind wasn't too bad but it was cold so we didn't linger for too long.

Back at the junction, Mike decided to continue on to Mt. Field - but I knew I didn't have the energy. So I continued down - and he continued on with our plan to meet back at the car when we were done.

I had an uneventual trip back down (although I did slip about three or four times on the way back); I did pass a group of 20 somethings in jeans, cotton t-shirts and vented sneakers. I was hoping they had at least brought a jacket for when they reached the top - otherwise they would have been freezing!

Once I got back to the car I was knitting and killing time until Mike was done - and was thinking about my birthday the next day (the 9th). I was thinking how happy I was that both mom and dad had made it to their birthdays this year (my father was August 25th - he turned 78 - mom was August 26th - she turned 73). I wished they could be there for my 33rd birthday - but I was also glad that neither were suffering anymore - both are now at peace and that is the best gift I could receive.

All in all - a wonderful hike! I got to spend some much needed quality time with Mike - perfect fall/early winter weather - a great day to appreciate all that we have in life and remember those who are no longer with us.