Mt. Hedgehog

Submitted by Pat

Mountain: Mt. Hedgehog (2,505)
Date: November 22, 2008
Weather: Cold, snow showers, some breaks of sun, teens and low 20's
Miles: 5
Elevation Gain: 1,629
Trails: UNH Trail

The plan is to climb Mt. Hedgehog and then Mt. Potash. They share a trailhead and the total mileage is under 10. The weather is marginal and I am still learning map and compass and how to use my GPS, so I'm not ready to go bushwhacking yet. Feeling comfortable with the GPS is slow going and I don't know why. I make headway in my learning and then hit a roadblock and put it down for a week, forgetting everything I have learned. Must be some psychological barrier coming into play and I can't quite get a hold of it. I am also a little wigged out by the fact that all we have left of the 100 highest are bushwhacks or the Maine mountains that require an overnight. We have been knocking off summits for a little over two years and have not had a period of time like this where we couldn't make the summit, started repeating previous climbs, or decided to do a training hike instead of bagging a peak.

Besides feeling a little precarious with regard to my hiking confidence, I am also struggling with other issues - personal stuff that has come up to visit and is tugging at the elemental fabric of who I am. I feel lost, scared, and need today to be a good one. I may need it but I also realize that things aren't looking good. Nancy is also dealing with some hard stuff and I am less than able or willing to calm my own anxiety and really listen to her. She tells me how she is feeling and I try to fix it. Wrong.

I am in a non-thinking place - I am not analyzing or processing or trying to understand. I just am. It doesn't feel good; it doesn't feel bad. I am kind of numb.

We stop for breakfast at the Tilton Diner - Nancy's omelet is not good - the vegetables are still hard and undercooked. Not a good omen, if you believe in that kind of thing. As we head north toward the Kancamagus the tension between us boils and pushes against our skin - I can almost see the things we need to say to each other roiling and heaving, like in some sort of weird science fiction movie where the parasitic creature is bursting to be free of the host. I cave in on myself. I can make no sense of what she is saying, what I am saying or how I feel. It all feels awful and in that I sit as we pull into the trailhead parking lot.

We start up the UNH Trail with spits of snow in the air. The air is cold and the wind whips through the bare trees. I'm glad our exposure will be minimal and I struggle to stay warm. Nancy asks me to rage up the mountain and I try and that doesn't feel good either. Everything feels wrong. I am wrong, Nancy is wrong, the whole thing feels like a mistake. I hate that I am feeling like this out in the forest doing the thing I love so much. I don't want hiking to be touched by such personal anguish. What is wrong with me? Why can't I break through whatever is holding me in this hell?

The second half of the hike we walk in silence. I wonder what she is thinking and feeling and can't make any sense of the vat of crap I have created for myself. We arrive at the parking lot, chilled, sad, and hungry. We sit in the car, trying to warm up, and eat our peanut butter and jelly bagels. Shall we climb Potash too or are we done? I have nothing left - no energy, no spark, no joy, so I throw in the towel and suggest we call it a day.

We talk as we can on the way home. We don't figure anything out. Both of us are locked in our own confusion and the discomfort we feel being together. I want to figure out what is going on and I can't. I want to feel better and I can't. I want to make it right between Nancy and me and I can't.

As I write this a week later I know that some growth, some healing, some change came to us out of that experience. I'm not sure what it is and I'm not trying to figure it out. We had a great hike up Mt. Equinox last Friday and we were able to find the loose ends of our friendship and pull them back into a place of order and comfort. Laughter, trust, enjoyment of each other, of our bodies climbing up to the top of a big hill, and the beauty of the day started to replace the confusion we brought to Hedgehog. Relief...

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