The Family Edition, Volume One: Tucker Brook Forest, Milford NH.

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It was a damp and dreary Black Friday.

A large portion of America spent the day elbowing their way through crowded stores and sitting in parking lot traffic. To each their own…but I didn’t want to spend the holiday weekend in the company of social anxiety and consumerism. So, despite the cold and the rain, my brother, my sister-in-law, their 1 year old baby, 3 year old border collie and I suited up, packed up, and set out for Tucker Brook Falls, Milford NH.

As we got ready to enter the trailhead, Quenton (the baby) was not thrilled to be bundled into his little bear suit and tucked into his pack. We figured as we got moving he would settle in, so with the grumpiest (but cutest) bear cub in the forest, we made our way into the trees.

Not even 10 minutes in, and Q was fast asleep.

The rain was fairly light and the tree cover kept us dry. The trails were covered in wet leaves, but luckily Cameron (my brother) had taken his mountain bike through the area more than once. So we trooped along, heading for the waterfall along the brook.

Then, my phone did that stupid thing where it dies every time I try to take a picture. Fortunately, Tanya (my sister-in-law) happens to be a successful and talented photographer (check out her page!).

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We passed through the falls and deeper into the forest. Tanya shares my child-like admiration of all things in nature, and we “oohed” at strange trees and  giggled at oddly placed little bridges. We talked travel plans out west, and Cameron spent a fairly decent amount of time trying to convince us to get mountain bikes. Katie (the border collie) happily sniffed along, and Quenton stayed passed out with his face smushed against the rain cover of his pack. The trails were well-marked, and each time we arrived at a map, we opted to hike further, enjoying having the whole place to ourselves. We made our way to the highest point and looped around to a connecting trail.

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As the rain picked up and Q started to stir, we mapped out our route back. Planning to hike in the rain is completely different than getting caught in it, and it was more enjoyable than I expected it to be. With our feet dry and the baby dry, we didn’t really care if we got a little wet. Besides, November is characterized by clouds and raw and damp, and we all agreed that we liked it that way.

Back at the car, we unloaded and blasted the heat. We were all smiles, especially Q, who got to pretend to drive the car for a little bit. Today was a reminder that positivity is something you pack and bring with you, and I’m so grateful to have family that never hikes without it. After my previous hike, I was feeling like a part of me and this experience was lost. Sometimes, even more so than solitude, the right people remind you of exactly who you are.

And how can you possibly frown with these two goobers around? (they were having fun, I promise)

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Final thoughts: Rain-shmain. Two hours in the woods>two hours in a stupid mall. Babies and dogs make everything happier. Always carry a backup professional photographer. 

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