On Day Two of our hike in the White Mountains, with the temperature in the negative numbers and the winds near hurricane levels, you quickly learn to listen very carefully to your guides — there were three of them on our hike handling seven hikers.

After Day One, my confidence was building: I had maintained a pace, realized what to expect, and understood my equipment better. But Day Two had its own character. It was cooler and windier, so I adjusted. On Day One, I had let my core body temperature drop; hiking with too few clothes for fear of overheating. I thought then I would get colder with sweating.

So on Day Two, I adjusted by adding layers. I ended up over dressing, which was better because you can take things off to cool down. But I still listened carefully and asked questions, because I had only one day under my belt and the conditions were much different today. Though I felt comfortable in my layers and had the correct equipment, I was tired from the first day’s journey. I still had another 6.5 mile hike up one more 4,000-foot mountain – and it was freezing out!

So you bet I listened again… to what sounded like the same advice form the day before: what to wear, what to eat, when to eat, when to de-layer, when to load up with all your layers (as you hit the summit), how to cover your face to avoid frostbite, how to hydrate, how to pack your snacks when to eat your food, I listened and acted.

It was exhilarating! To do something that I had never done before but have advisors taking you through every step of the way made things easier. And, of course, we were rewarded by the weather on the return. The winds died down, and the sun broke through and the same trail up was different, a lazy sloping trail down the mountain, again with its own challenges.

Since it is less work you lose body heat quicker and can get chilled on the return hike. Thumbs, fingers, and toes still need to be closely monitored, and of course, this being the last leg, you had to battle overall fatigue. But there was more bantering on the return, a sense that we had fulfilled what we came to do.

I will do it again.

The details, the plan the trail, the guides and the equipment, the advice, are all things you need to get through any challenge…

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