I stand there, irritated, waiting for Janelle to catch up. Despite the long day and the big miles, I know she can move faster. I need her to move faster, but I’m running out of ideas to motivate.
“Look ahead of us,” I tell her. We are about a mile from the car, the trail is flat and we’re warm. But, we’ve already hiked nine miles, and the Moats beat both of us up. Now, deep erosion grooves cut through and around the trail leaving deep sitting water in our path. Leaves cover any obvious tracks. Blazes are far and few between. We have 20 minutes, tops, of daylight left. “Can you find the trail?”
She peers into the trees for a moment. “I have no idea,” she grumbles.
“What will we do, here, if it gets dark?” I ask. “Imagine how much harder this will be for us.”
Janelle takes a deep breath and I can see the lines of concern. She understands it’s important for us to step it up, but she’s tired. There’s no tears, no early teenage frustration. She’s just tired and lowers her head.
I close my eyes for a moment and try to re-focus.
“Ok, listen,” I lift her chin up, “we have headlamps, we have food. I know how strong you are. Can you hurry for the next five or ten minutes and help me find our way through all this water? Things will get better after this.”
She nods and offers a weak smile. “Ok.” We set off into the darkening unknown.
South and North Moat mountains (10/27/12)
Heights: 2,770 and 3,196 feet
Location: North Conway. Route 93 north to Exit 23 to Route 104 east to Route 25 northeast to Route 16 north to West Side Road north (for 0.7 miles) to Passaconaway Road west (for 3.2 miles). We spotted a second car at the other end of the ridge at the Diana’s Baths parking area trailhead.
Our trailhead: Moat Mountain Tail, from south to north.
Distance: 9.7 miles.