Thursday Night Trail Run #1: West Rattlesnake Mountain

Thursday Night Trail Run #1: West Rattlesnake Mountain

Now and then Wilder has to spend the day at home being a lazy bro. Chilling on the bed in front of the fan, snoozing and schmoozing. Maybe he moves over to the bricks in front of the old fireplace and parks it there for a while. Sometimes he'll gnaw on his bone or lick a few things. When I get home, he often comes running, ready for action – and he can jump high enough to steal the hat off my head when his battery is fully charged.

After adjusting to a new commute of over an hour, my battery is pretty full by the time I get home from work, as well. And doggone it, Thursday nights just always seem to feel like Fridays until I remember I need to get up early. But I like to compromise: let's go do something fun on Thursday nights and still get to bed on time!

Wilder won't sit still....

We live within fifteen minutes by car to trails in the Sandwich Range, the Squam Range, the Hikin' Heron trails, and dozens of other little scrappy paths around ponds and marshes and scenic overlooks. So I thought, let's take the wild one and go running every Thursday night until the snow is deep enough to stop us. I can pack some water, a few puppy treats, my headlamp and my cell phone and off we go on endless microadventures!

As a runner who works some long hours, I get frustrated when I can't get out more than I want to. I recently learned of the Friday Night Vertical Series at Black Mountain, which is for trail runners to network and hang out, while running various routes up the ski slopes. Unfortunately, it's just too far from where I work to make it. I thought about a few people I know who climb Mount Major after work, and I decided it was necessary to create my own routine.

Creating a new routine will motivate me to get out more and keep those legs loosened up during the week. Wilder can not only keep up with me, but often pulls me along. And we both love to explore and check out every nook and cranny of where we live. He pees on things; I just take pictures. So let's do it!

Thursday Night Trail Run #1: West Rattlesnake Mountain

For our first run, I picked West Rattlesnake Mountain in Holderness. It's a short, fairly easy climb up an old bridle path to the rocky ledge overlooking Squam Lake. Every time we drive by during the day, the parking lot is packed, usually overflowing. Getting there at 8 pm on a Thursday night, we had the place to ourselves, with the exception of one couple walking a dog and a lone nighttime hiker who was heading up just as we finished.

The path is wide and broken up into “steps” with either rocks or logs, in order to prevent rain erosion of the trail. It's not quite a mile up and four hundred feet of climbing to the small peak, but it's steep enough that while running, I got my heart rate up pretty quick. Of course, we had to stop every fifty yards so Wilder could sniff around.

West Rattlesnake Bridle Path near the top....

It's always darker in the woods as the sun sets below treeline, but flashes of summer gold lazily glittered down through the spruce and pine. It's simple hiking, but solid White Mountain forest. Wilder and I weren't in the biggest hurry to get up – took us about twenty minutes – but when we stopped to listen to the chirping birds (“Get out of my house!” I imagined them squawking), Wilder whined at me and got a little antsy. Perhaps he knows better, so we skipped over the roots and logs and got ourselves to the top of West Rattlesnake.

We looked out to Squam Lake and the moon, just under half full and high in the pink sky. The sun set behind us and the Squam Range, just on the other side of Rte. 113. We stood there in those last moments of summer day, ready to clash with twilight, no sounds but those of light wind, faint bird chirps in the woods behind us, and the lapping of puppy tongue in a plastic water dish. His dog treats were moist and delicious, smelling of maple syrup, cinnamon, and some kind of berry. Puppy power food.

West Rattlesnake summit....

I tried to keep Wilder at the base of the big rock, the true summit, but he wouldn't let me climb it without him, so up he went, where we could see the spread of the Squam. All of its coves and bays, and I wondered which one Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn summered on. Then we dived off the rock, packed up our gear, and ran back down. And we didn't stop once. We made it to the car in eight minutes.

I blasted the cold air for Wilder and studied the headlights reflecting off the old trees encroaching the road as we re-entered Sandwich. There are no streetlights here, but every few winds of the road, a house would be lit up, windows bright and warm and inviting. By the time we got home, it was full dark. One tired dog crashed out on the kitchen floor while I put our gear away. Thursday Night Trail Run #1 was a bounding success.

Note for future runs: I will plan slightly better. This time around I wore my running sneakers, but with jeans; and I sure wish I recorded the run on my Garmin, so I could have a handy-dandy map of our run. Will do this for the next TNTR.

Top Of The World Bear

Top Of The World Bear

NH SCRAPBOOK: The Town Of Blimpie, NH

NH SCRAPBOOK: The Town Of Blimpie, NH