August 24, 2016 - Blue Bird Skies in the Whites
I packed up and headed north. Climbing steeply up to the summit of Webster Mt I had fantastic 360 views. No clouds in the sky and Mt Washington was fully visible all day. There was a small descent after Webster and then a steep climb up Mt. Jackson where the views got even better. A nice family on the summit gave me an apple and string cheese which I was so thankful for. They were gone within seconds.
I continued on and stopped at Mizpah Spring Hut where I had a bowl of soup and some lemonade. I met up with Smeigal there who was the girl who I did the half gallon challenge with. We hiked the rest of the way climbing up out of Mizpah Hut, over Mt Pierce, past Eisenhower, over Mt Franklin, and the past Monroe to Lake of the Clouds hut. The hut was very busy and we checked in to see if there was any work for stay available. I was one of the last two to get work for stay and they asked if I minded hanging back in the morning to clean up after breakfast.
While they set up for diner and the guests ate the 10 of us sat outside and watched the sunset. It started to get cold out so we sat inside while the guests finished up. Once the Croo ate them we were allowed to get dinner. There was not a lot of left overs so the chef made us a big pot of pasta and we used the BBQ sauce from the pulled pork for sauce. It was fantastic. There was salad and chocolate chip cookies.
I was content and at 9:30 they shut the house lights down after the other thru hikers did their work for stay. I went outside to watch the stars for 30 minutes as the visibility was fantastic. I crashed really quickly and was thankful to be inside as it was rather cold outside. The 10 of us scattered ourselves to the dining room floor.
August 25, 2016 - Reunited
Once the chores were done I wrote up my journal and called the family. While on the phone I saw Hazel coming down the hill to Lake of The Clouds. Finally reunited at last. We went inside for a bit and Hazel got some coffee cake. We headed out after she ate to begin out 1.3 mile climb up to the summit of Mt Washington. We got to the top and there was a line to take your picture with the sign that read Mt Washington summit. We decided to say forget it and took our picture with the sign in the background.
We went into the visitor center at the top to get some food. I had 2 hotdogs and nachos. They provide an area for hikers to put their backpacks so we dropped off our packs and charged our phones. We continued on and descended down Mt Washington around the the Great Gulf. We passed Adams and headed towards Mt Madison stopping at Madison Hut. I went in to ask if they had any work for stay. They told me it was too early and that they like to reserve work for stay to hikers that get there late between 7-8. Hazel and I then decided to take the .60 side trail down to a campsite. The only other option was to hike 4 miles over to Osgood campsite. The hike down the side trail was steep and we lost a lot of elevation. Argh!! We got to the campsite and had to squeeze our two tents into one site. I fell asleep really fast after dinner. Hoping the rain holds off during the night.
August 26, 2016 - Leaving the Presidentials
Hazel and I made a quick breakfast and packed up. We hiked the .60 mile back up to the hut up the steep straight up trail. We stopped in the hut and filled our waters. We began the climb up Madison and the rain and wind started. It was slow going as we were climbing over slippery wet boulders. I started singing reunited and it feels so good. Hazel started to laugh. It's nice to be back together.
We summited Madison and started the descent. It took us about 3 hours to get below tree line as the rocks made it slow going. We stopped for a few snacks. The trail at this point enters the Great Gulf Wilderness and has no white blazes. You need to really pay attention to trail names and know where the AT goes. I stopped at a creek crossing at washed off and poured cold water on my head. Hazel changed into shorts as I got sunny and warmer than it was above tree line.
We started again and I crossed the creek and was on the other side and slipped on a rock and down I went. I crunched and the sound my body made as I hit the ground was terrible. Hazel thought that's it his hike is over. Luckily nothing broken and not cuts. Just a bit sore. We carried on and the soreness lessened.
We had one small climb up and over the shoulder that the Mt Washington Road sits on. We crossed over the auto road and descended down into Pinkham Notch. We immediately went to the cafeteria and got food. While I was eating Sleeping Bear showed up who I haven't seen since Boiling Springs, PA when him Cake and I went to the pool. I was very happy to see him again. I went down and took a shower and got clean clothes on. Hazel called Stephen to let him know how she was doing.
My sister was on her way up from Massachusetts to pick Hazel and I up and bring us to my grandmothers house to take a day off to rest. She arrived at 5 and we headed into Gorham to do laundry. We went to Chinese food buffet while the clothes were washing. We switched over to the dryer and headed to Walmart to pick up food for Saturday. While walking into Walmart we saw Dragon Head and Ninja. They were taking a zero after doing a brutal 21 mile slack pack from Pinkham Notch to route 2 near Gorham. Ninja had slipped and fallen and went down into a crevice that Dragon Head had to pull her out of. She was all bruised but thankfully ok.
Hazel and I had debated doing the slack pack but now said no way. They headed back to the hostel. We shopped and bought lots of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We grabbed the clothes and headed to grams. I was so happy to see her as it had been two years. We stayed up till 10:30 which for Hazel and I was like being up to 3am. We headed to bed and I fell soundly asleep.
August 27, 2016 - Gram's House in Stark NH
We stayed for two hours and then grabbed coffee and headed back to grams. When we got back we ate lunch and made sandwiches of turkey, ham and cheese, pickles, chips. We stuffed ourselves and then took a walk out back to the river. The water level was low enough that we could walk across to the sandy beach on the other side which we used to do as kids. We spent about 40 minutes down by the water and headed back up to the house to relax. We then decided to go up to Christine Lake and go for a swim. The water was warm but the wind made it cold. We swam for about 30 minutes before it got too cold to stand. On the way back to the house we drove by crystal falls to check them out. I had not been there for years and it was fun to take Hazel to see them. We got back to the house and it was time to eat again. Yay!! We had spaghetti and meatballs, salad, fresh bread and cheesecake for dessert. We stuffed ourselves again. Calorie load up calorie load up. After dinner we relaxed on the front porch listening to the coyotes yap. By 9 we all were ready for bed. I was gonna sleep good tonight.
August 28, 2016 - Wildcat and all its 4 peaks
Saying goodbye to my Gram was hard as I don't get to see her as much as I would like to. We headed to Walmart to resupply. Looking ahead as we go into Maine resupply is going to get harder and harder. Towns are 8-12 miles from the trail head. We will manage but for now we are doing a resupply for 6 days. We packed our packs with only 2 days worth of food and dropped off the rest at White Mountain Hostel where we will be staying Monday night. Hazel had a great idea with that. She gets big points.
My sister drove us to Pinkham Notch Visitor center and dropped us off. We said our goodbyes and she took two hikers into Gorham on her way home. My sister is the best to have driven all the way up here from Massachusetts to pick us up and stay one day at grams to drop us back off and drive all the way back. My body greatly appreciates it.
Hazel and I crossed route 16 and took lost pond trail for .50 miles to lost pond. We then took the wildcat ridge trail which began a super steep climb up wildcat. It was basically a cliff climb for the first two miles. The trail was steep with rock boulders to climbing up rock slabs to almost vertical rocks with hand holds. We made it to the top of the first Wildcat Peak. Phew!!!
We sat and ate our first sandwich that my sister made. While eating Mosey walked by and stopped to say hi. I briefly met him in Hanover New Hampshire while we waited in line together at the post office. We continued on to the second wildcat peak with the climbs not nearly as steep as the first. This summit was where the wildcat gondola comes up from the ski area.
We rested for a bit and took in the scenery. We then continued on to the last two peaks. These last two were gradual ups and downs. We finally had a view of Carter notch and Carter Dome as well as the Carter Hut at the bottom of notch. We descended down wildcat and made it down to Carter Hut where we ate our second sandwich and filled up on water. We rested and began the steep climb up out of the notch to the top of Carter Dome. This climb was not as bad as the first climb up wildcat but it was straight up stepping up onto rock after rock. It was like climbing a big staircase. I checked the radar on my phone as I finally got service again and it showed thunderstorms and rain coming. It looked like we had an hour until the rain.
We kept moving and made it to the top of Carter dome. We didn't see any stealth campsites along the way and had a gradual descent and then an ascent. While we climbed up Mt Hight gradually we saw a tent in what looked like a good spot. It was Mosey who had set up and he said to join him. Hazel and I were happy as we heard thunder coming and didn't want to get wet. We quickly set up our tent and did out chores before the rain came. Luckily the bad storms went just to our north. We heard thunder and saw lightning but nothing major. While I'm writing this a light rain is falling so we lucked out. 9pm and it's time for sleep.
August 29, 2016 - The Drop Off
We got packed up and headed out by 7:30. We had about 50 feet to go before the summit of Mt Hight. The view was really neat as a dark cloud was sitting on top of the mountain but every direction you look you could see sun on the other mountains. We descended down to Zeta pass and passed two people tenting. We climbed up and over Middle Carter and north Carter which wasn't too bad. However the descent from north Carter down to the Imp Campsite was another thing. This was the hardest descent for me on the whole trail. The combination of mossy wet rocks, followed by wind and bad footing made for a difficult descent. Hazel went first and we both were like what the heck are we doing. We laughed a lot mostly at the absurdity of the trail layout. If there were two ways to go down a particular rock we said ok we have a 50% chance of death. It took us two hours to go 1 mile. We made it down and cheered. We kept saying "precipitous drop off" anyone?
We were close to the Imp Campsite when Mosey and so-free passed us. We hadn't seen so-free since the day we hiked out of Hannover and he slack packed with us for several miles. When we arrived to the shelter it was a side trail .20 miles straight down so we said forget it we will just sit on the trail rest, and have a snack. After our snack we had one more climb up Mt. Moriah which was a gradual climb up many open rock faces. We were gaining elevation but it did not feel like it. The weather had been weird all day. Dark cloud sitting overhead became fog with mist. Then it lifted to be broken clouds and sun with high winds. We heard from a hiker that a large group of Thru hikers were stuck at lake of the clouds as the winds on Mt Washington were gusting to 100 and they decided to wait for better weather.
We reached the summit of Mt Moriah and began the descent down. The guidebook said it was a gently sloping trail to route 2 but the steep trail said otherwise. We later learned the gently sloping portion did not start until the shelter. We took our time down and reached route 2. Which meant 2 things. We went under the 300 mile mark for miles left to go and we are officially done with the Whites.
Hazel and I walked the .10 miles up the road walk of the AT to the hostel and checked in. We got our laundry ready to wash, took a shower and hopped on the shuttle to Walmart to pick up the few supplies we needed and to get dinner. We went back to the hostel and ate. I went outside and sat by the fire and relaxed. We have an all you can eat breakfast tomorrow morning. Wohoo!!
August 30, 2016 - The Ledges
We got packed up and on trail at about 8:30. We had about a half mile of road walks before we began the ascent up Mt. Hayes. The climb was not like in the Whites. It was up but at a much more manageable pace. We arrived on the rocky summit and rested in the warm sun. Several other hikers were there including Paisley. She is a section hiker finishing up the trail after injuring herself in 2014 she had to get off the trail on New York. We met her in the Whites and she has been in the same day bubble as us for the last week or so.
We carried on dropping down a few hundred feet before climbing up Cascade Mountain, which had lots of ledges which gave great views back to the Whites. We had a steep climb down to Trident Campsite where we filled up on water and continued on. We passed by Page Pond on our way climbing up to Wocket Ledge. I will have to admit there was a cocky thru hiker in his 20's today that seemed to try and catch me and pass me climbing up to Wocket Ledge. I heard him speed up so I did. He was huffing and puffing but couldn't pass me. I got to the top and he came at bit later and looked like he was about to pass out. I won!! He was coughing and choking. I said to myself yup keep smoking those cigarettes. I felt great yay me. Insert little devil on shoulder.
I rested and waited for Hazel has I took off running up the mountain. She wasn't very far behind and we stopped to have some snacks. We continued on dropping down and had one more climb up before dropping down to dream lake. This is where we hit the 1900 mile mark. I can't believe it we have walked 1900 miles. Paisley caught up to us and we hiked the rest of the way to Gentian Pond where Hazel and I took the double tent platform and Paisley set up her hammock nearby. We made dinner and I was ready for bed by 7:50.
August 31, 2016 - The Tough Day
We got on trail a bit before 8. The first climb of the day was Mt. Success which was a series of ups and downs getting you higher and higher. Lots of mud and lots of wet rocks. Made for a slow go of it. The top of Mt Success offered some views but with the clouds not as spectacular of a view. We climbed down Mt success which was steep and slippery. Slow slow slow. Once at the bottom we had several more ups and downs. Several of the downs were steep slabs of rocks with drop offs on either side. I was pretty terrified a few times due to the wet rocks. A slip could be fatal or really in bad shape.
Hazel and I laughed because what else is there to do with the situation. This is a good tree, this is a good root, we would yell to one another. We would occasionally yell not a good root not a good root. A southbounder listened to us for 20 minutes coming down a particularly tricky section and laughed that we were gonna start taking up pot to calm our nerves. We made it to the shelter and saw it was
.30 miles and said nah we will have our snack right here. We carried on and had to climb full goose mountain and its three peaks. We started up and had many wet rock slabs to make our way up then we got to the rebar ladder and Hazel said oh boy. I took a video of her climbing up as it was a perfect example of what we do out here.
We made it to the summit of Goose eye mountain west peak and rested. We proceeded on going down and up both Goose eye east peak and north peak. We then had a very steep climb down which was slow going. We had several ladders of rebar to climb down. For being under 10 miles of walking this literally took all day. We arrived at the campsite and we're lucky enough to grab one of the three tent platforms. The double had already been taken and Hazel and I finagled a way to get both of our tents on the platform. We used a log to tie one side of my rain fly to so my tent would not flood in the rain. We made dinner and relaxed before the rain headed in. Tomorrow we do Mahosec Notch and the arm. What fun.
Storm is posting regular updates from the AT on his Trail Journal
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