Somewhere between Vermont and New Hampshire the rolling soft trail, wild raspberry covered hills and dreamlike moon filled nights turned into steep unforgiving rock, grueling climbs, intimidating descents and storm filled days. With a loving, yet brash slap in the face, New Hampshire had welcomed me across it’s border and into it’s beloved White Mountains. Wanting to make a good first impression, I showed up cheerful, proud and in a dress…The White Mountains were not impressed. They shouted at me through cracks of lightening demanding my immediate respect. On the first peak of the White’s I was humbled. It was there on the summit of Mount Moosilauke that the mountains asked me “Are you ready now, to take your time? To give up your pride and to…climb?” I could only reply…”Yes.” So climb I did…on an endless trail of rock…From the peaceful porch of the late “ice cream man”…To the unsettled skies of distant mountain peaks…Torn and tired I would keep climbing to find…some of the most loving people…Mountain top huts filled with warmth…A hub cap named Toto from the Pacific Crest Trail…Epic views…More rock…and broken poles…Long awaited milestones…Ferry crossings…The smallest, most welcoming town stops… And a place where the rock finally let its guard down long enough to become a playground…All that climbing…every ankle roll, every stumble and every fall has me standing once again with pride at the gateway to the 100 mile wilderness. The Northern terminus of the Appalachian trail, Mount Katahdin, sits quietly ahead. I am in awe, I am in love, I am in Maine.