Various ski trails including Polecat, about 5.5 miles roundtrip.
Sage and I decided to hike a 4K today. Since we didn't want to deal with the four feet of rotting snow currently covering the upper sections of most 4K trails, we decided to tackle Wildcat D. Wildcat D is a ski area, and hikers may use the groomed slopes to ascend the mountain. The ski season is now over, but the slopes are still in fairly good shape; the lower sections are snow-free and the middle and upper portions are relatively firm.
It was a beautiful morning. Sunny skies, little wind, birds chirping all around...perfection.
We started up the muddy slope at a steady pace. I was careful to let Sage dictate the speed, since her hiking happiness depends upon her sense of empowerment. If I go first, then I risk moving too fast and Sage feels like she can't continue. If she goes first and I follow her lead, then Sage feels like she's hiking completely on her own terms.
Now that I have a decent amount of experience hiking with both my daughters, I understand one very important thing: those who want to hike with their kids MUST tailor the hike around the child. For example, Alex's main motivation is the peak. She'll push herself onward even if the situation isn't all that enjoyable (rain, spring snow, etc.). Sage's main motivation is the journey. If the weather isn't favorable or if she just isn't in the mood, then she'd rather wait for another day and do the whole thing with a smile upon her face. Neither approach is better than the other -- but if I want both kids to enjoy themselves out there, then I need to treat each child as the individual she is. Alex is not Sage and Sage is not Alex. Both are incredibly strong and tough, and both enjoy hiking. However, their styles are very different, and I must cater to each.
Up we went, first on mud and then on snow, with beautiful Mt. Washington behind us.
We reached the intersection with the Wildcat Ridge Trail a mere two hours after leaving the car.
The trail to the summit structure wasn't quite as packed down as the ski slopes...
...but, from here, we only had a tenth of a mile to climb.
At the top, we were greeted by yet another gorgeous view of Mt. Washington...
...along with a recently rebuilt observation deck, on which we ate our summit chocolate.
We ran into several groups of people up there, one after another. First, rocket21 and Company (always nice to see you, Jeremy), then a couple of skiers we first met in the parking lot at the start of our hike, then a group of men who proclaimed they were from the "local New Hampshire correctional facility" (I think they were a bunch of skiers). We hung out for half an hour, chatting most of them up, then we headed back down the slopes.
Sage was proud of herself and happy, which means the day was a success.
(Note the hiking stick in the picture, beautifully carved by Drewski).