I knew it was only a matter of time until I came back from a stunning high peaks hike and Jeanette's jealousy would send her up a peak with me soon after. After a perfect day on Dix, Jeanette had had enough!!! Time for a climb!! We threw around Avalanche Lake since we've made a winter pilgrimage there the past few years but she decided as it got closer that she wanted to climb Cascade.
Well it just so happens that I hadn't been up Cascade in the winter so I could bag it and Porter for my W46!!! The drive up was very pretty with an average amount of Koda whining. It was evident that the snow pack was going rapidly. There was way less snow then even 2 days earlier. I was so beyond thrilled to be hiking with Jeanette again. As much as I enjoy solo hiking and my solitude (and lobbied for it pretty tirelessly) I deeply missed having my hiking partner and my true love with me to share the beauty. We fell in love in the woods and they never cease to make me think of her.
Skies were overcast but very crisp which got me excited for Cascades epic views. This was our first (like many others) high peak and so we remember the least from it. I know that it was windy and we had almost zero visibility. Jeanette had taken girls from the grad department several time since but I hadn't returned. It was nice hiking "new again" trail and taking in unique perspectives from this northern peak.
Jeanette set a fast pace that had me sweating within the first 15 minutes. She felt out of shape and had to take what she felt like were too many breaks but again, we were CRANKING up the trail hahaha. I tried to keep up while dodging the first trail rocks I had seen since November. Spring is definitely on the way. The last third of this hike, once on the ridgeline is very pretty. The pine forest festooned with runners of alpine moss. There are a few open points that offer tantalizing views of what's to come, with clear views through Avalanche Pass Flanked by the Mac's and Mount Colden.
Once we broke through the tree line to the bare summit we could hear the winding roaring over the rock. We started the scramble and ditched our snowshoes once we realized the rest of the way was primarily bare rock. The gusts were very high. I don't really have a firm grasp on MPH estimations but it was the heaviest I've ever felt and would venture to say that it was up to around 40 MPH. Jeanette got out the nice new camera and took some stunning summit photos. The dog and I played around on the summit a little beit before we all decided it was a good idea to get off the exposure. We made a bee line back to one of the open spots along the trail and had a second, less windy, photo-shoot.
This hike was a big deal for me for two reasons. The first, as I mentioned earlier, it was Jeanette's first hike back since her dad passed away this fall. She's been struggling to find the energy or the desire to do this sort of thing. Her planning this hike marks a major turning point and a definite indicator that, while things are still hard, she's emerging from the darkness. The second and less dramatic big deal is that I didn't "bag" Porter. Sometimes I feel like a hopeless peak-bagger. I've been trying to promise myself that I'm really going to savor my winter round and when possible, do single peaks instead of multi-peak outings. Once I'm out there though, i get excited and want to do bigger and bigger hikes. On the Dix hike I made a quick attempt at Hough but turned around very quickly when I couldn't immediately find the herd path. I was a little irritated with myself for pushing it and not being able to simply enjoy the good that I had.
So on this trip, about halfway through, I decided not to "bag" Porter. I had a simply phenomenal hike this fall, climbing Porter and Cascade from Marcy field. I fell in love with the Porter Ridge. So rather than taking the quick jaunt over from Cascade as so many have half-hardheartedley done before, I saved it for another day. Maybe I'd repeat that beautiful hike up the ridge or try the trail from the Garden which I hadn't hiked before. Maybe I'd save it for my final hike so friends that don't hike a lot could come along! So I passed the intersection on the way up and down without another thought of hiking over. A small victory in the battle with list obsession.
All in all it was a great hike with great company. It was the first time we all (Koda, Jeanette and I) climbed a high peak together and Jeanette's first big hike in a while. It left us both excited for spring and some of our coming hikes. I loved spending this lovely warm spring day with those I love (lots of love in this sentence!!!) the most and felt very present and in the moment. Life is good.