The girl and I make our way around the western flank of South Uncanoonuc in Goffstown. The leaves are so thick, they come up to her calves in some spots. Winter is nearly here and this will likely be our last hike of the season without having to deal with the white stuff.
Today is also Election Day; the third one in a row that we’ve hiked on. Last year, we fought hard to make our way up the Horn in a snowstorm. Two years ago, we began our 52’er journey with a hike up Mt. Kearsarge. Today, the day is mellow and I feel melancholy. We had bigger plans for the day, but life got in the way and we settled on a quick hike to one of our favorite places.
North Unc was the first mountain we climbed together. This will be the first time we climb South Unc together and we picked a longer trail than the straight up old tram route. I wanted to have a little more time with my partner, a few more tenths of a mile on the trail and she seems fine with the extra miles.
We pass a make-shift lean-to and the girl crawls into it. “We could camp here!” she says. Near the top, there’s a side path simply labelled “view.” We follow, a soon we come to a magnificent open ledge that looks west. From here we can see three mountains we have already climbed: Pack Monadnock, Monadnock and Kearsarge.
Someone has dragged two plastic lawn chairs up here, and suddenly we no longer have any interest in the summit. Janelle drags the chairs out into the open and sets up the auto-shoot on my camera. “Go sit there,” she says, directing our impromptu photo shoot. She fiddles with the camera, finding the right rock for balance, then scrambles to the chair next to me.
One picture. One try. The pic you see above.
The sun begins to set into our eyes and the girl and I relax and sip tea and talk about the mountains like we are old friends.
“Let’s make a promise,” I say slowly. “Let’s promise that no matter where we end up, no matter what the future brings, that we’ll try to hike together on Election Day.”
She considers this for a moment, then lifts her hand toward me. “Pinky swear,” she says. And there on old plastic chairs facing the sun, high above the ground, the girl and I wrap pinkies and make a promise neither of us has any clue if we’ll be able to keep.