The Legend of Osceola -it was a play I was in in the fifth grade. My mom actually wrote it. The epic tale of the Indian Chief who led his people back to their native homeland in Florida against the white man’s wishes. I climbed Mount Osceola in honor of that man. Sounds noble, doesn’t it? Truth is, I climbed the mountain because I like to climb things.
The day started out damp and gray. We almost didn’t head out, but had hopes that the sun would come out and burn off the gloom as the day progressed. We weren’t to be disappointed. By the time we reached the White Mountain National Forest is was a beautiful day. After we finished bumping seven miles down a dirt road to reach the Mount Osceola trail head, we were ready to climb. We put the mandatory $3 parking fee in the honor system envelope, hung the pass on the mirror, and off we went.
The sun was bright overhead, but there was a chill in the air heralding the first day of fall. Random swatches of tangerine and cherry wove their way among the green, a sampling of the leaf display soon to come. The trail was a work-out, heavy on the rocks. It was pretty difficult in some places, with numerous switchbacks, and one treacherous obstacle where the only way to pass over a huge boulder was to place your trust in an old, exposed tree root as a foot hold as you hugged the rock, trying to flatten yourself out so you wouldn’t hang too far over the drop below.
We covered the 3.2 miles to the 4315 foot summit in only an hour and forty-five minutes, which was a huge ego boost. This was not a cake walk climb. We passed five groups on our way up, so we might be getting kind of good at this whole mountain thing. I had to stop every 20 minutes to take a sip of water, but I think that may be a female thing – guys just spit when their mouth gets dry. I don’t know how that helps, but it’s what they do. (And it will be a really bad day for one of them if I ever stick my hand in it while climbing and I know who’s mouth it came from.)
As usual, I was freezing at the summit and had to wear both a sweatshirt and a windbreaker, but the view was amazing. We tried to find a place out of the wind for a quick lunch, but sometimes there’s very little shelter on the top of a mountain. By the time we finished eating and started our descent, my hands were ice hold. The good thing about hiking, though, is that after 20 minutes of making our way down the mountain they had warmed back up. The entire hike took less than 4 hours, and even with the 2 hour drive home it was still early enough to throw a quick dinner together and watch a movie, which was a first for a day spent climbing a 4000 footer.