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Last Legs , A Runner’s Blog — Week 6: The Soak

By: Jim Burnett

The rising sun rested and, in that moment, smiled happily on the shoulder of Cardigan Mountain and the lake below as soft gray clouds drifted slowly by. Her fire reflected on the lake’s surface in front of me, transformed into jittering red-hot stepping stones on the backs of tiny ripples. As my chin rested on the lake’s surface, the sun warmed my eyes. From the neck down my body soaked in the chilly pool. Rodney Yee had told me, “Breathe in and expand your chest, breathe out and extend your spine, let your body float within its frame…” and now I understood as I sat cross-legged on the soft muddy bottom of the lake near the small wooden dock.

The day before, Mookie and I climbed 3,320 feet to the top of Mt Moosilauke. As I geared-up standing next to the Jeep, the door like an open clam shell around me, Mookie sniffed the tires of the other car in the trail head parking lot, then stood at attention in the gap next to the green gate that marked the beginning of Glencliff Trail. Three miles or so up the trail, the north peak was shrouded in early-morning clouds. I nodded and Mookie turned and bolted up the rocky path that led to the top. We greeted twenty-five hikers and six dogs along the way. At 100 pounds, Mookie the Labra-doodle is a force of nature. His joyful exuberance has no bounds (sometimes at the expense of unsuspecting fellow hikers). It was windy at the summit and when we started down, all of a sudden, Mookie took off across the windswept grassland toward the low hanging clouds to the west and disappeared over the short horizon…, two, three, four, five… Mookie. But, of course as he always does, he came bounding back tongue and tail wagging.

Coming back down below the tree line, we focused on the large rocks and boulders that offered themselves as stair steps - tap, tap, tap…thump, thump, thump... At first I felt strong and agile, tip-toeing my way from point to point and occasionally reaching out to plant my poles and swing my weight down softly. But, eventually my quads tired and the easy upbeat rhythm I enjoyed early on became a bit painful. So, I slowed down. Soon enough we were on the softer, gentler slope and, though my body was tired, I enjoyed a warm feeling of satisfaction as we arrived back at the Jeep. 

Mookie is my hiking buddy. From the moment I roll out of bed, step onto the wooden floor and feel my way across the dark room to where his soft furry black and white body awaits the signal to get up and get going, we are a team, ready to tackle the next outdoor adventure. As I soaked in the chilly lake the morning after the climb I thought to myself, “I hope I come back as an oversized Labra-doodle.”

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