Zeus OS’s first White Mountain Four Thousand Footers.
Zeus’s first 4k was a fabulousuccess. I chose Mt Hale for familiarity, this is at least my third time up. It’s a good trail and introduction to peak bagging.
We got to the trail head just before 9 am. After one false start, 100 yards into the forest, along with the whining of mosquitos, reminded us of the left behind bug repellant.
The hike up took two hours, about the same as the book time. We saw no one on the trail on the way up. Zeus would hike ahead, off lead, to either the limit of my sight, voice or warning clucks. He quickly learned how far ahead he could go before turning to look back with his dog attitude, “Dude, you are slow!” We paused at the halfway point, the second stream crossing, to catch our breaths, rest our feet, and hydrate.
The second half seemed quicker and easier. I eased into a steady rhythm for breathing, pace and pausing. Soon enough, the trail turned into the final pitch upward with the welcome view of blue sky and clouds ahead. We popped onto the summit clearing. There were two sets of hikers already there. One couple and a father with his two daughters. I told them Zeus was friendly and said if he proved to be a pest, I would put him on a leash. Zeus walked to each person, said hi, (no sniffing at nose height, no jumping up, just a tail wagging walkby for a stroke of acknowledgement). Good Dog.
They left, the father with daughters down the path we came up, the couple off towards Zealand Falls. Zeus and I meandered about and rested for a few more moments, then headed back to return via the way we had come – Hale Brook Trail.
Along the way down, we met up with other sets of hikers. Zeus continued to prove his respectful friendliness, now with a twist. After each set had gone up and we continued down, he approached my left side – where the treat bag is – looked up to me for his reinforcing for good behavior treat.
On the way down, we paused at the lower falls for a few moments. Zeus came over and sat beside me, then leaned in to myside, panting, smiling, relaxing. With shared silence, we both knew that life is good and there would be more hikes together.
Down the trail and shortly beyond, we came up some more hikers cavorting in the cooling brook. Zeus busted down from the trail to say hi to each, as was his modus operandi. I stayed up on the trail, hoping he wouldn’t uintentionally knock anyone over (he didn’t), and also hoping that I would not have to go down there after him. Per the Zeus MO, after saying hi, he bounded up the hillside back to the trail, came to myside, smiling for his treat.
We got back to car. Stopped in Jackson for traditional post-hiking ice cream, and got home in due time.
Then, that night, about 8 PM, Zeus came to myside, looked up, expecting his nightly walk down to the dead-end of the road and back. We stayed, will do it tonight.