Today I climbed Giant Mountain. At 4627 feet it is the twelfth highest of the forty-six high peaks. I take the Roaring Brook Trail approach which is 3.6 miles to the summit with an ascent of 3375 feet.
It is just below freezing when I start and I wear the winter hiking clothes I bought yesterday. My hiking shoes are heavier today with spikes attached.
The trees are bare and the lower part of the trail is covered with frosty dead leaves. The rocks that just weeks ago were coated with wet moss are now encased in ice that the spikes grip easily.
I make a quick detour to visit the Roaring Brook Falls before rejoining the trail to the summit.
It starts to snow and soon the trail is covered with a light dusting that tells me that no one else has passed this way this morning. I pause occasionally to take pictures and make steady progress up the trail.
I do not see another person until I am nearly to the top when I step aside to let a young couple come down a rock face from above. They are returning from having spent the night at the lean-to on the far side of the mountain with gear they rented for the weekend. They do not have spikes on their boots and it is too slippery for them to walk on this part of the trail. Instead, they sit and slide down the rock together, smiling and laughing the whole way down.
I have the summit to myself. It is beautiful but cold so I do not stay long. On the way down I pause at the rock with the side by side slide marks and smile remembering how two people, clearly in love with each other, spent a few wonderful moments together in a wonderful place.