Sat, Aug 31
I’m awakened before 6 am to shuffling around in the shelter. I get up and make my oatmeal and coffee in the cooking area. Pack up. Get info from the caretaker on the coming storm. Head down the trail with Socks Tales and Supervisor. Socks takes off ahead. It’s mostly down then a little up over rocky White Mountain trails to Galehead Hut. Here we all eat some leftover free oatmeal and hang out with some other hikers for a while. Then up the short and very steep trail to South Twin before rambling over to Guyot. Good views.
At the spur to Zealand Socks waits for everyone and we all take a snack break. Supervisor takes off, then me, then Tales. There’s a ranger near the Zeacliff loop. I hike with Tales and Riddler to Zealand Falls Hut. Riddler tells us riddles. What has a bed but does not sleep, a mouth but doesn’t eat, and runs but has no legs?
We have a brief chat with a woman who is hiking the New Hampshire grid and has heard of my mom! I admire the falls with Socks. I eat two mediocre bowls of soup. A gaggle of thru-hikers congregate here and we all enjoy our soup together. I eventually depart and hike solo along a very flat and easy trail, an old railroad bed with beautiful views of Whitewall Mount. Hike with gummies and glow worm on and off. We bypass the Ethan Pond tentsite. A day hiker gives me a Clif bar! We get to a stealth site around 7 and find two SOBOs already there (Barefoot and Baby Rock) – 5 of us total, 3 tents and a hammock, but we squeeze in. We all eat dinner and chat. Baby Rock plays an Elliot Smith song on his ukelele.
Into my tent. Write. Sleep by 9. Tomorrow I’ll meet N&C, cousin Kristy, and maybe a friend or two to hike toward My Eisenhower.
Fri, Aug 30
Franconia Ridge Day.
I wake at N&C’s after my last night in Glencliff along the trail. Breakfast. Leave at 7:20. I drive to the Notch Hostel and hang out for a little bit, I’m going to give a ride to a few hikers. They share some food with me – pancakes and sausage. I leave with Socks, Tales, Balto, Mountain Laurel, Blue Jay, and Daredevil at 10. To the trailhead for the Basin at 10:20. we hike down the bike path then up, up, up Liberty Springs Trail. Water break at the spring with a handful of other hikers. It’s kind of cloudy outside.
Once I’m near the tree line there are clouds over Little Haystack Mountain. Dang. I hope that this clears up because Franconia Ridge has some epic views. A volunteer at Haystack is giving a talking to all the thru-hikers about the rules in the Whites: camping regulations and Alpine zone stuff. On go my wind pants and rain jacket because it’s quite windy. The clouds start to clear! I head over to Mount Lincoln and hike with Socks and Tales over the ridge to Mount Lafayette. People are up here but it’s not hella crowded. Clouds part, the sun shining, pretty awesome. There are great views. Over some knobs before the descent off of Lafayette.
A young chatty hiker named Short Shorts catches up and we walk and talk for a while. He hiked the PCT last year but is just out for the long weekend from Boston. He’s pontificating about the spirituality of long-distance hiking when we run into this old cranky Scottish man who’s all like “this bloody sucks!”. He ia right, the trail is tough here, but the timing couldn’t have been better. Socks and Tales catch up and we all hike to Garfield where the views are great and it’s quite windy. We have some snacks. But it’s too windy for me so I head down toward Garfield Ridge Campsite. Slow going for the last is 0.4 miles.
I arrive and pay the $10 fee and check in with the caretaker named Spice Girl who says there are about 40 other hikers at the site! I set my stuff up in the shelter then join Tadpole and Survivor in the cook area. Short Shorts joins. Then Gummies and Glow Worm. And Tales and Socks. And Balto and Mountain Laurel. Eat soup. Hot chocolate. Into the shelter by 9 for sleep.
Thurs, Aug 29
Kinsman’s slackpack from Kinsman’s Notch to Franconia Notch today. An early start.
I wake at 5:30, have breakfast with Nancy and Charlie, we leave at 6:15. They spot a car for me and Nancy drops me off at Kinsman’s Notch at 7 and I hike. Clouds and fog. Up, up. Rocks and roots and mud. Feeling some sadness and frustration. I slip on the roots and they make me angry and I whack a stump with my trekking poll which bends. Damn.
I see Camino Steve. Then Bluejay and Daredevil. And Socks who is running to make it to the outfitter in Lincoln before they close at 5:30. Up and over Mount Wolf. A snack break at Eliza Brook Shelter with Camino Steve, Bluebird, and Daredevil. I only fall once!
Then up steep, steep, comically steep South Kinsman, down and over North Kinsman. A view break with Socks of the upcoming Franconia Notch. Maybe I can give her a ride if we make it down in time… We basically run down as though the trail is an obstacle course along with Camino Steve and a day hiker until we reach Lonesome Lake Hut. Bathroom break, water break, brief view of the lake break. Then go go go the last 3 miles. We reached the bottom at 4:40. It seems like the blue blaze trail to the parking lot takes forever but we make it, hop in the car and drive to the outfitter which we reach at 5:17, before they close at 5:30. Socks gets the pole tips that she needs. Then to Price Chopper for a quick resupply.
I drop Sox and Camino stuff Steve off at the Notch Hostel and take a quick look around the place. It’s a great hostel and looks like a really cool space. Then to Glencliff for dolma with Nancy and Charlie. I had been dreaming of these stuffed peppers along my hike and hoping that we’d have some when I came to visit. Thanks N&C! Bath. Organize gear. I retrieve my headlamp from across the street from a hiker who carried it from the Norwich hiker hostel where I’d left it by accident. I have some ice cream and drink a few beers and I’m up until after ten. Sleep at last…
Wed, Aug 28
After after breakfast with my parents I pack up my day pack to slackpack over Mt Moosilauke. We get our picture taken with Bag of Tricks across the street at the hiker hostel. N&C drive me over the mountain to Kinsman’s Notch where I’ll hike SOBO for nearly 10 miles.
I start hiking at 7:45am. It’s flat for the first tenth of a mile and then it’s straight up the Beaver Brook Trail. A trail of legends. Slow going but I make good time. Pretty waterfalls. I make it to the shelter for a granola bar break. When I leave I meet Supervisor and we hike to the top. I run into Gummies and Glow Worm and we exchange numbers. And then I’m above treeline!
Camino Steve, Buttcheeks, Faceplant, Supervisor, and others are happy, gleeful, and frolicking and are overjoyed to be on the first mountain in the Whites with great views. Everyone is walking around taking pictures and selfies and panos, recording videos. Happy times. We all take pictures of each other. I have a snack in a wind broken spot.
And then hiker Ed shows up at the top! He’s a New Hampshire hiking legend that Nancy and Charlie know, having hiked the NH Grid 6 times. I chat with him for a minute. There’s a dog at the top eating people sandwiches which is pretty hilarious. Then I head down.
I run into Tales and Socks on their way up. And others including No Collar. Down, down, down. Balto and Mountain Laurel on their way up. I cross the road just below the Home for the Elderly. Past Jeffers Brook Shelter with a very full privy…. And then down back to Glencliff!
Quick shower and change and then I hang out at the hostel chatting with Buttcheeks and Faceplant, eating ice cream sandwiches. There are rumors about free chili and I wait around for an hour, and there’s no chili by 3:45 so it’s time to run errands. Ambassador joins me on a resupply trip to Shaw’s in Woodsville. Return, dinner, bath. Ambasador comes by with ice cream which is very sweet of her. We have a minute to look at the garden before sudden rain begins. Inside. Eventually sleep.
Tues, Aug 27
A nearo in Glencliff.Wake up after my first night in Glencliff and have real food for breakfast with N&C. Today I’ll slack pack over Ore Hill, Mt Mist, and Wyatt Hill into Glencliff! We drive back to the trail crossing at 25A. Nancy thinks maybe 1 other hiker might want to slackpack. I estimate 5-7. At the trailhead we find 9 others! Tales, Socks, Buttcheeks, Faceplant, Supervisor, Glow Worm, Gummies, Tadpole, and Survivor. Everyone tosses their stuff in the back of N& C’s Yaris and we’re off just after 7am.Fast going without a pack! This is great. Another nice weather day on the trail. Cool morning. Easy tread, rolling hills. A few hikers ahead, a few behind. Sorchi passes me, not interested in slacking. Up Ore Hill. Over Mt Mist. Over Wyatt Hill. A baking dog. Down to Route 25! Back in Glencliff.A short road walk back to N&C’s. I’m there by 11:30. They’re unloading wood. I stop by the Hikers Welcome Hostel across the street and meet Mumble and Buffalo, the caretakers, as well as Bag of Tricks, a trail legend and trail angel of sorts. Lunch with Nancy and Charlie. Hang out with Tales and Socks on the porch. Research the hike ahead. Malena, who lives in Haverhill and works in Glencliff, stops by and we catch up. Then dinner, organize gear, write.
Mon, Aug 26
I wake at 6 to my alarm. It’s going to be a little bit of a push to go over Smarts and Cube…I’m thinking that maybe N&C could come and pick me up at the Route 25A road crossing this evening for a slackpack back to Glencliff tomorrow… I’ll see if I have reception and can get ahold of them. The Dartmouth kids were loud last night. I heard them at 11:30. Faceplant said she heard them at 2am. Coffee and oatmeal with coconut milk powder, dried apple, cashew butter, coconut flakes, and granola – got it dialed. With the overflowing privvy I’ll have to dig a cathole ahead.
Downhill. Then up steep Smarts Mtn to the firetower. A good view along the way where I hang out with Glow-worm and Gummies, then Tadpole and Survivor, then Buttcheeks and Faceplant. To the firetower. I have some service so I’m able to email N&C and leave a voicemail to coordinate tonight.
Down Smarts. Then up Mt Cube. A steep up. A mile from the summit I take a break and chat with Camino Steve who tells me about his Calendar-Year-Triple-Crown attempt. He was going for it until he got mono and had to abandon his plan. Up to the peak. Tired. Talk to Nancy on the phone, they’ll meet me at the bottom of the mountain, 3.3 miles away, at 5:30-6. I take a bit longer break at the top of Cube with a handful of hikers, offer a slackpack tomorrow morning with help from N&C, then hustle down. Zoom past Supervisor. Past a Dartmouth group. I reach the bottom at 5:45pm! Nancy and Charlie are there waiting! Hello! We drive to Glencliff, eat dinner with many veggies from the garden, catch up, and I’m in bed at 8:45. Nice to be home.
Sun, Aug 25
Wake in the hostel and have pancakes and eggs for breakfast. Chat with Maker and No Collar. Pack, drink coffee and Gatorade. Frosty, the owner, wants to talk about all of his travels. I get the shuttle to the Co-op to resume hiking. Is that Redline’s tent I passed? I pee in the woods and almost flash Camino Steve. Whoops! and go the one mile to the next privvy. I ask the people at the shelter if this is the blue-blaze back to the AT and an older guy recommends going the way I came back the 0.2 miles, “sometimes it’s better to go backwards than to go forwards”, he says. Nugget of wisdom.
Decent weather and a good amount of uphill today. I come across Tales and Socks and join them for a snack break. A day hiker gives us a bunch of peaches, thanks! We run into Tadpole and Survivor who are getting dropped off at a road crossing by Tadpoles parents. Tales and Tadpole are both from Nashville and they know the same people. Tadpole’s mom shares tasty homemade heart-shaped ginger cookies with us.
Over Moose Mountain. Good views from the south peak. A break at the top with Tales and Socks and Ambassador. Then up and over Bear Hill. Holt’s Ledge. Down 0.5 to the shelter. It’s relatively close to the Dartmouth Skiway according to the map, where I grew up skiing. The shelter is packed – two large loud groups from Dartmouth, a dozen or more tents, and a handful of hikers in the shelter. I set up my shelter near Buttcheeks and Faceplant, Tadpole and Survivor, Camino Steve, and Ambassador. The privvy here is so full that it’s overflowing. No thanks. Dinner of soup and tostones at the shelter around the campfire. Into my tent at 8. I can’t find my headlamp, I must have left it at the hostel. Damn. Dartmouth kids are very loud but I drift off to sleep… Tomorrow I get close to Glencliff to visit N&C!