July 13 Mile 324.1 Osgood tentsite
The last two days were accidentally erased from my blog and I do not have the energy to rehash them in detail. Recap: July 11 was a wonderful zero day and July 12 was gorgeously sunny and we ended up hiking 14 miles to Zeta Pass and camped with our tents all cozied up in a tiny space.
Today I woke up early and got to the Carter Notch hut by 8:30. It was rainy, cold and windy up on Carter Dome at almost 5,000 feet. Pepper and Silky Pete showed up and I told them I was going to take a blue blaze trail (side trail) down to Pinkham Notch instead of following the AT over the Wildcat mountains to Pinkham Notch. Silky Pete hiked with the me and I am so glad I made that decision. We got to the visitors center and had hot coffee, salad and sandwiches. I bought rain pants for the Whites. I tried out my tent. When Pepper arrived she confirmed what I suspected; the descent down to Pinkham Notch from the Wildcats was really brutal and rather treacherous. I’m glad I made the right decision for myself.
I’m at the base of Mt. Madison and Silky Pete, Pepper and I are going to wait to see what happens with the weather; if it’s nice we’ll push to Mt. Washington and if it’s rainy we’ll just do Madison. Either way, right now I am exhausted so it’s lights out.
July 14 Mile 334.4 Lakes of the Clouds Hut
Yesterday evening before bed Silky Pete came down to my tent and said, “If it’s nice tomorrow, I’m gonna go for Washington, and then get work for stay at Lakes of the Clouds hut.” “I like it,” I said. “We can push hard and do it.”
And we did! I got to the summit of Washington and went into the visitors center and found SP charging his phone: “I just ate two slices of pizza and a hot dog and I had some coffee!”
This morning I was on the trail at 5:40, which felt good. The sun was up and I knew that once I got above the treeline I’d be hiking in sun. Sure enough, after about an hour of climbing up and up, I had some sun and incredible views of Mt. Washington, Edmands Col, Mt. Adams and Mt. Madison, which I was about half way up. I was so happy to be in an alpine environment again. I kept stopping and taking photos but the more I looked at the mountains around me I knew I’d have to move it to summit Washington as soon as possible. Afternoon thunderstorms are always possible and I didn’t want to get caught in one.
I summited Madison and stopped in at the Madison Spring Hut. There are a number of huts in the Whites and they are run by the Appalachian Mountain Club. They are usually booked solid in the summer, but for thru hikers like me, they offer work for stay. I’ll do some dishes in the morning in exchange for a spot on the floor to sleep and I’ll get to eat any extra food (there is always extra food).
Silky Pete and Pepper are here, we’re not sure where Lays is, hopefully he is safe and dry somewhere. It was raining when I left the visitors center to hike the 1.5 miles here to the Hut. I’m exhausted but I will wait patiently until 8:10pm when we get to eat leftovers.
So happy. So tired.
Well, we just ate dinner: chicken, rice with green beans and apple cake for dessert. We all had seconds and did a good job of eating all the food; the folks at the hut have to pack out all waste, so our job is important!
It dawned on me today while I was hiking that the White mountains are named for the massive deposits of quartz. It is beautiful, and knowing that I see the Whites in a different light; they are more magical somehow, in a way that a place never previously visited can be. I’ll sleep good tonight.
July 15 Mile 345.4 Crawford Notch
I woke up around 2am and looked out the windows of the dining area where we were sleeping and saw stars, the moon and some clouds along with some distant glittering lights. In the other direction up towards Mt. Washington there was a lightning storm. Amazing to have such different views from the same window. Lakes of the Clouds Hut is right on the shoulder of Washington and it was foggy when I woke up again at 5am. We waited around drinking coffee and talking trail until 8 when we got to eat the leftovers from the Hut guests: scrambled eggs, oatmeal, bacon, pineapple, chocolate pumpkin bread and some kind of muffin with brown sugar topping. Amazing. We all had seconds and were complimented by the “croo” for doing our jobs well. We chatted with some Hut guests and then I did my work: straightening up the bunk rooms and sweeping. Good deal!
We didn’t hit the trail until almost 10am (!!!!) but it was worth it. We hiked through the mist until around 1pm when we took a break at the next Hut. We all got free bowls of soup and the sun came out so we lounged around while Silky Pete played the house guitar.
The afternoon found us scrambling down Webster Cliffs in the rain. Words cannot express how happy I will be to be out of this terrain. I love the mountains but wet rocks and roots and having to look up to find the trail is wearing of us all.
I dream of flat trail covered in pine needles. Or leaves. Or just dirt.
It was raining as I pitched my tent by the parking lot here at Crawford Notch. I am dry, however, and I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to dry out my tent tomorrow; my primary objective besides making the miles to Galehead Hut. Hopefully I can get work for stay.
Another brutal and gorgeous day on the Appalachian Trail.
July 16 Mile 360.1 Galehead Hut
I woke up to blue bird skies and was in the trail at 5:15. Perfect. The trail was decent so I made good time to Zealand Hut, arriving at 9am to free pancakes, eggs, bacon and oatmeal. Amazing. I sat in the sun eating my food as my tent dried. The stretch to Galehead Hut, about 7 miles, was more difficult and I ended up breaking a trekking pole. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner! Fortunately there is an outfitter in Lincoln where I’ll be stopping tomorrow so I can get a new pair. I’m not keen on spending the money but trekking poles are essential.
Heard from Skyman and I’m planning on meeting him in Hanover on Friday. So exciting! I’ll take a zero there for sure and the usual hiker chores: resupply, shower, laundry, charging my external battery, phone and Fitbit. The Fitbit is so much fun on trail!
I got work for stay at Galehead Hut and there are three NOBOs who showed up shortly after me. It’s nice to talk Trail with them and share information. This is one of the things I love about the trail, meeting people from totally different walks of life. After an hour of hanging out it’s like we’re old friends. I feel I can be more open with people on the trail. I am certainly more assertive, which is a good thing.
July 17 Mile 373 (I think!) North Woodstock
I was lucky to have evening duties in the Galehead Hut kitchen last night so I was free to go in the early morning. I slept very well in the Hut but I was up at getting ready at 5am. With the afternoon thunderstorms I like to get hiking early as to avoid being on peaks during storms. Today I hiked Franconia ridge, which is known for it’s beauty and sweeping 360 views. Today was stellar. Once I climbed up and over Garfield I began the ascent up Layafette. From there the views were just delightful and I got a clear view back the way I came. This is particularly satisfying and it makes me feel good to see the progress I am making.
I got down the ridge to the parking lot at the trailhead where I met Supernova, a NOBO from Canada who has been crushing serious miles. He asked me when I started and I told him and he seemed impressed, which makes me feel good. I know that AT miles are different, especially in this area, but I still have this complex about doing more miles and I end up exhausted. So now that I’m hiking by myself I need to make myself stop and relax. I don’t have to go go go all the time. Tomorrow is going to be a chill day, I’ll sleep in and get a late start. Which is what I need. The White Mts kicked my butt.
So here I am in another laundry mat washing my stinky hiker clothes. Good thing I’m wearing my rain gear because it’s still raining, although the hail has stopped for now. I’m excited about better trail coming up, and things getting a bit easier and no more AT parkour.