Three weeks ago today, I finished the AT. Today I went back for a short little bit to hike the Wildcats. Wildcat Ridge Trail is a part of the AT, and I hiked the 2 mile section between Wildcat A and D as part of the trip to the Cats. It was a nice way to remember and reflect on the past few weeks.
Actually, the day started out pretty gloomy, as it had rained the past few days and the clouds were still very low over all the major ranges (Franconias and Presidentials) as I drove through the notches up to Rt. 16. The plan was to do another hike and bike like I did last week for the Twins and Galehead, just a simple loop over the Cats using 19 Mile Brook, Wildcat Ridge Trail and then down the ski trails before riding my bike back to 19 Mile. As I pulled into the Wildcat Ski Area to drop off the bike, I looked at the clouds on the slopes and wasn’t feeling the bike ride at all. So, I decided just to hoof it up the ski trails and do an out-and-back instead of the loop.
There wasn’t much in the way of views on the way up, unless being inside of a cloud is a novelty. Which, at this point, I’ve seen plenty of that. The ski trails are easy, though and the dirt road up Polecat makes for much better footing than walking through the tall grass on most of the ski slopes.
Upon arriving at the platform at Wildcat D, there still weren’t any views, so I headed over to Wildcat A. The sun was desperately trying to break through the clouds and finally did by the time I got there. It seemed that the mountain tops were the first to be broken free, and then the valleys, as I could just see Carter Dome across Carter Notch at the viewpoint at Wildcat A.
A quick break and I was back on my way to Wildcat D. Along the way I only saw four people, out enjoying their day on the Cats. Back at Wildcat D, there still were no views, so down the ski trails I went, finally dropping a bit below the clouds. Down I went, following the twists and turns of the ski trail until I came around one corner and there was Mt. Washington! The clouds had parted just enough for a view of the summit, with its distinctive buildings and towers. After a few quick photos, the clouds closed in and let me know that my viewing time was over and that I needed to continue on back to the car.
While it wasn’t the best day for views, it was a nice hike and got me back on the AT for just a little bit. At this point, I’ve mainly settled back into “regular” life (whatever that is!). My body still has a little healing to do, but that is progressing nicely. Although I am happy to be home and with my family, there will always be a place in my heart for long distance hiking. I’m already planning future trips, for next summer and beyond.