We were almost there. We double-checked on the GPS for good measure. It was the final half of the short bushwhack ascent to the summit. The snow was reasonably deep, but the grade was steep and the snow-laden branches and trees were slowing down our every step. My fingers were barely starting to warm up in the mittens I’d borrowed moments earlier, wounding my pride in the process. And then the question crept in my mind: why am I doing this?

I hadn’t done a “real” bushwhack in a year and a half, and it would be a first one for me in winter. This hardly seemed like the place or time to try again: I had a flight in the morning and needed to bring all my gear, preferably dry. It didn’t look too promising, but still, I didn’t think twice and went.

A broken trail for the first few miles had us think luck was on our side. But then, the trail wasn’t broken anymore. There was a foot of fresh powder, often more, and the trail followed a brook or trench for a long while. We were making good time, but expending much energy as we were quickly down to two trail breakers. We made it to the base of MacNaughton in good spirits and slightly ahead of schedule.

Then the bushwhack started. I still don’t know whether I liked it or not. I was thrilled by reaching the summit sign and enjoyed the few views, but I also felt relief when we returned to the frozen ponds and the marked trail. Overall, it wasn’t so bad. It seems like bushwhacks include a mental grind component that regular hikes don’t really have. I guess I’d forgotten about it.

Oh, and I made my flight with my wet and dirty gear. It all turned out fine though: the Airbnb had a washer and dryer.

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