Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Pleasant Mountain - a bipartisan winner on election day!

Route: Ledges Trail
Distance: 3.6 miles (roundtrip)
Elevation: 2006'
Duration: Two hours

Yesterday I got to take a half day for working this past Saturday.  For record keeping's sake, I'll mention that yesterday was the random, crazy-beautiful bluebird November day in the 60's.  In light of the new sunset time, I hightailed it home to pack quickly, promising myself I would vote upon returning.  We made it to Pleasant in about an hour and  I was relieved to see a few other cars alongside Mountain Road.  We threw our stuff on quickly and began at 2:30.

The Ledges Trail has a nice kiosk once you take the stone staircase up from the road that details the trails and safety precautions.  Shortly thereafter, the broad trail begins to gain elevation fairly evenly.  As of yesterday, the leaf cover is fresh and the ground dry, unlike a little bit further north.  For that reason, this is a great hike for those not ready to welcome winter.

During a flat section, the dogs took advantage of two small streams that ran close to one another. Soon after, a sharp right turn and return to climbing indicated the beginning of the long, gentle switchbacks that defined the next 15 to 20 minutes.

Last staircase before the open ledges
Staring at a squirrel
We broke out onto the ledges with the sun swallowing Ty's light outline as she walked along the cliff's edge, scanning the ground below for critters with a surefooted-ness a dancer would kill for.  The next section provided the inspiration for the trail's name.  Most of the ledges offer beautiful views of everything from nearby hillsides and lakes to distant mountains.

Someday I'll look up the history behind this

The trail turned into the woods and ascended some more before the junction with the terminus of the Southwest Ledges Trail (which we would someday like to try) and a secondary sign directing us to the main peak, just another couple minutes up the trail.

Final ledge
Hello moon!
This wasn't our first visit to Pleasant but the beauty and vast views at the open summit captivated me as powerfully as the first time.  There was only one other person up there enjoying the scenery and everything else the summit had to offer so we took the opposite side to relax.

After taking an hour to cover the 1.8 miles to the top, we relaxed for about 25 minutes appreciating the silence and trying to simply live in the moment.  Tango is certainly best at that, I'm trying, and Ty, well, she's trying these days too!

Private massage with a view... spoiled!
Half relaxed, always ready
I briefly toyed with the idea of waiting to watch the sunset but ultimately tabled that experience for another day.  On our return trip, the leaf cover was a little sketchy but we practically flew down.  It was a major mental workout to be joyful, calm, alert, in the moment, and one step ahead simultaneously without slipping on the leaves.  This was a huge test for me and Ty.  I had a harness and bungee leash ready but decided to push our luck a little, instead opting to jog with her remote trainer in one hand, whistle at the ready, and singing everything from Jason Mraz to Dropkick Murphys along with my iPhone since I'd forgotten our bear bell (more like the, "big creatures of the woods, please vacate the area before my dog sees you" bell).

With a lot of luck, my strategy worked and we reached the car unscathed with some light left in the sky.  Pleasant Mountain is a small peak but has a to to offer.  Our first time we were there, it provided a solid challenge for Erick (an intermittent hiker) and blueberries galore to sweeten the day. Yesterday it gave us a perfect, short, moderate hike with the spectacular views I was craving.  I even remembered to bring and use my binoculars to observe the patchy snow on Mt Washington.  Despite the freshly fallen leaves that hid potential hazards, the terrain was excellent for a quick hike. There weren't many water sources but the trail was quite dog friendly, despite Tango slipping on rocks that were hidden by the leaves.  He's very ready for winter.  But to get in one last warm-weather hike was special and I couldn't have asked for a better afternoon hike.

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