AT NY-NH Day 40

Sat, Sept 7
Miles: 12.3+0.2=12.5
Starting/ending: 1905.5-1917.8

A slow going hard day through the Mahoosuc Notch.

Awake before 6 in the full shelter – I slept pretty well considering there were 14 of us inside. I’m low on fuel so I have overnight cold soaked oats and cold coffee. Not bad. I get my period and Mountain Laurel gives me some tampons – thanks ML!

Ups and downs over knobs all day. It’s dreary. Welcome to Maine! Roots, rocks, some mud. Unnamed knolls, Goose Eye West Peak, Goose Eye East Peak, Goose Eye North Peak. Tons of boardwalks – flat planks, sloped planks, planks with wooden braces for traction, little planks, big planks. Solo most of the day. A few SOBO flip floppers recount the fun of boulder strewn hiker jungle gym that is Mahoosuc Notch. The slowest, hardest mile of the AT.

A snack break with Tales, Socks, and Supervisor at Full Goose Shelter. Onward with Socks and Tales and into the Notch! We’re through the challenging mile in 1 hr 40 min! It’s fun and adventurous, going up and down boulders and under house sized rocks. It’s also hard and tiring and a full body workout. I slam my knee into a rock and bash my shin on another. Ouch! I fill my water at the end and am quite exhausted.

Tales and Socks continue on another few miles up the Mahoosuc Arm to a shelter, but I’m pooped and I set up camp in the campsite immediately after the Notch. My shin is swollen from the earlier rock bashing. Supervisor, Jingles, Garndpa (a former Ridgerunner) and a few weekend warriors stay there too. It’s supposed to rain, the tail end of a hurricane is coming through. Supervisor shares some fuel with me – thank you! More Knorr rice and beans for dinner. The rain starts at 7:30 and I hunker down into my wee cozy shelter, shrinking the ground gap to a minimum in order to stay as dry as possible. I write. I’m tired. I sleep.

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AT NY-NH Day 39

Fri, Sept 6
Miles: 11.7+0.2=11.9
Starting/ending: 1893.3-1905.5

From Rattle River to Gentian Pond Shelter. I get a slow start with family breakfast of sausages, eggs, pancakes, fruit, veggies, and mushrooms with Tales, Socks, Balto, Mountain Laurel, Blue Jay, and Daredevil. The epic breakfasts together have been dubbed “Breakfast Club”. Hike out from the hostel at 10. It’s going to be an easy ish day! And low ish mileage.

I leapfrog with Tales and Socks and take breaks with them in the sun. Some ups and downs, the terrain is moderate. A few beaver ponds. We talk to a SOBOer who gives us intel ahead.

Arrive at the shelter around 6 – plenty of daylight left. Supervisor and a few older section hikers are there. I set up my stuff in the shelter – it might rain tonight. Knorr selects for dinner. Chat over dinner with Tales, Socks, Balto, Mountain Laurel, Blue Jay, and Daredevil and Jingles. Off to sleep in the packed shelter.

AT NY-NH Day 38

Thurs, Sept 5
Miles: 8.2+0.3=8.5
Starting/ending: 1885.6-1893.3

I wake at the Imp Shelter at 7. I slept well considering the cougher and the sleep talker. Breakfast and coffee. Cold! And windy. But it will be sunny. On trail before 9. Up to Mt Moriah, leapfrogging with Balto, Mountain Laurel, Blue Jay, and Daredevil. Down steeply then easy and gradual to Rattle River Hostel – right on the trail!

I take the rest of the day to hang out with the others, catch up on life, dry things, make a Walmart run, eat McDonald’s, and sort food. I get a fix of healthy fresh ish food with a green machine juice, salad, and Chobani yogurt drink for dinner. I discover that Jingles is sleeping in my bed and I kick her out – sorry not sorry. Sleep.

AT NY-NH Day 37

Wed, Sept 4
Miles: 13.0+0.3=13.3
Starting/ending: 1872.6-1885.6

I wake at 6 in the Rattle River Hostel and pack up my clean laundry in preparation for the 7:30 shuttle back to Pinkham Notch with Tales, Blue Jay, Mountain Laurel, Balto, and Daredevil. It’s going to be a rainy today. I may only go three miles to the ski patrol cabin at Wildcat ski area or maybe 6 mi to Carter Notch Hut… First I’ll use the wi-fi at the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center. Once there I discover that the Wi-Fi is down which is a bummer so instead I make a few phone calls and leave some messages. Nancy and Charlie were talking about coming to meet me on the Wildcats tomorrow but since I’m hitting the trail today I don’t think it will make sense. So I hike on!

At first I go down the wrong trail and have to turn around. Then up! Up, up, steep, steep, steep. A fast thru-hiker passes me and then I pass an older guy. Hopefully I can beat the rain by getting to the ski patrol cabin. But then it starts to drizzle at 10 am, earlier than expected. Damn it’s sketchy up hill in some spots and very steep, but all goes well. At a spring close to the top I fill an additional 2L in the event that I stay at the ski patrol cabin. It’s uphill untill the the cabin and I discover that Tales, Balto, Blue Jay, Mountain Laurel and Daredevil are all there! I hang out for a minute and I talk about maybe staying here but then decide to press on with them at least for another three miles.

Onward. There are ups and downs and its gray and kind of damp but not actively raining which is nice because the rainier it gets the colder I get. Up Wildcat D, Wildcat, then straight down to Carter Notch Hut at 1:30. It’s a cute little spot with several ponds. We’re in a thick cloud. I change out of my wet stuff at the hut and consider staying although it’s pretty early and who knows if they would let me sleep on the floor here or do work for stay because if not typically available until 4:30… We snack until 2:30 and then I decide to press on once again. I want to get to town at a reasonable time tomorrow and I’m convinced to stick with the others. More big ups and downs – the trail is pretty brutal. Up Carter Dome, up and down Mount Hight, up and down South Carter, up and down Middle Carter, up and down North Carter. Today it’s +5675/-4400 ft!

The sun comes out! Oh hey sun! Man that is wonderful. Then the clouds come and it starts to rain once again. I slip and fall but somehow manage to land on a bed of moss and not one of the millions of rocks that I pass over. Phew. Then down the very steep descent off North Carter. I hope to make it to the Imp Shelter before dark. I finally find the 0.3 mile spur trail to the site at dusk and manage without a headlamp. I check in with caretaker, Ryan May, who is from Haverhill, in the neck of the woods where I grew up, but somehow we don’t know any of the same people. It’s nice to chat with him but man am I cold and wet and it’s dark now and I can’t wait to change, eat, and sleep. Tales is already there but the other four are still behind. I change into my PJs and make my dinner of Knorr selects rice and beans which is not bad. There’s a very loud group of 10th grade kids hanging out in the cook area. The other four – Balto, Mountain Laurel, Blue Jay, and Daredevil – arrive after dark. I set up my sleeping pad in the shelter next to Mountain Laurel and Balto and also between a couging guy and a sleep talker. Sleep time…

AT NY-NH Day 36

Tues, Sept 3
Miles: 14.9
Starting/ending: 1857.7-1872.6

I wake at the lake of the clouds hut in a real bed after sleeping pretty well in bunk room #7. I’ll summit Washington today! I eat the mediocre hut breakfast of undercooked pancakes, sad eggs, and one piece of bacon (they didn’t get their helicopter food resupply because of the bad weather and so they’re running low on rations). I hike out in the clouds and fog with a team of other hikers – Survivor, Tadpole, Supervisor, No Collar, Lighthouse, and Turbo. We rockhop single-file to ensure that nobody gets lost off trail. It’s brisk and cold up to the summit with 10-20 mph winds. Arrive at the summit and relax for a bit. No views in the cloud today. I eat a donut and drink tea in the visitors center. Mountain Laurel, Balto, Blue Jay, and Daredevil show up from taking the shuttle up the auto road – they had to bail yesterday. I share tea with Jellybean who is freezing from having to wait outside in the cold for 30 minutes before the visitors center opened.

We all get our picture taken together at the summit. A slow descent for me in the mist on slick rocky trail. I get low enough and the wind dies down. Then the skies begin to part and glimpses of sun poke through cloud. Great views. I leapfrog with Tadpole and Survivor a bit. The trail grade lessens, the rocks dry out, and I make a beeline for Madison Hut. A bunch of us sit around eating mushroom lentil barley soup and snacks. As I get up to leave I run into Sherpa and dog Blue – they bailed from Washington’s summit yesterday via the cog railway.

Up short and steep, steep Madison then a descent on steep and rocky trail with good traction. It’s so beautiful and sunny. A steady down. Eventually into the woods, across a stream, leapfrog with Tadpole and Survivor and Sherpa and Blue. She’s the best trail dog. Finally at Pinkham Notch Visitors Center at dusk. I’d been planning to stealth somewhere here, but decided to go to Rattle River Shelter after all. A big group of us wait for Jay, from the hostel, to pick us all up in a 15-passenger van. I’m tired and hungry. I get in on a pizza order. At the hostel I check in, catch up with Tales and see Camelback Santa, wait in line for a shower, laundry into bin, inhale pizza, sleep.

AT NY-NH Day 35

Mon, Sept 2
Miles: 0

Rainy gross zero day at Lake of the clouds Hut.

I start my day by waking up on the dining room floor in the hut surrounded by 20 or so other hikers. It’s going to be so rainy and cold! I pack up, make breakfast and coffee with the hut hot water. Sit around with other hikers while everyone discusses and debates what they’re doing. Some are staying, some are going, some are hiking out or planning to exit at the summit of Mount Washington. The weather report at 7am says low 40s, rain and fog, 75 ft visibility, wind 30 to 40 miles per hour, gusts 60 to 65 miles per hour, wind chill 32° on the summit. Yikes. Sounds uncomfortable. Maybe I’ll hike to the summit and shuttle down or hike to Madison hut? But it’s wet and cold and I would have to wear all of my gear and it could be dangerous…hmm… Maybe I’ll just stay here at the hut for $150 as a guest…

People hike out and it’s cold and looks very miserable. Meh I’ll stay. At 8:20 I book one of the many remaining bunks due to cancellations. Tadpole and Survivor and Turbo and Lighthouse and No Collar and Jellybean and Supervisor are all here too. All right it’s going to be a zero day.

I hangout, read, drink free hot drinks and tea and chai all day. I’m put into bunkroom #7 with all the thru-hikers, then switched to room #5. It’s the second night in a row of bed switching and it’s kind of annoying. I eat mac & cheese and soup. I write, nap, meditate. I chat with others and play Apples to Apples for what seems like forever with March 4th and Go Forth (they hiked in from Mizpah today), Supervisor, Jelly Bean, Survivor, and Tadpole. More reading and hike planning. Guests come in all soaking wet. Upon returning to my bunk I discover some dudes’ wet pants have dripped down onto my sleepingbag! Wtf! And another guy talks about how he snores! Screw this room, there are plenty of open bunks and I move back to room #7.

I listen to the green energy talk. Dinner time – black bean soup, salad, beef with peas and noodles, and vegan chocolate cake. Some chatting. To bed to write and read and sleep at 8.

AT NY-NH Day 34

Sun, Sept 1
Miles: 11.5
Starting/ending: 1846.2-1857.7

It’s already September 1st! Meeting N&C and cousin Kristy to hike today.

Wake at 6, pack, breakfast in stealth spot near the railroad tracks with Baby Rock and Barefoot. I hike down to the parking lot around 8:15 and wait for in N&C and Kristy. And sit where the AMC shuttle picks up. There are few cars here. Sherpa and his adorable dog named Blue sit near me in the sun. I talked to them for a few minutes. Then Tadpole and Survivor come by. And a bunch of other hikers. It’s sunny. Rooster gets dropped off by a guy in the van from a hostel who hands out gatorades to all of us thru-hikers. Nancy and Charlie and Kristy and her two friends Stella and Eliza pull up. I restock my food quickly before we take off down the trail.

Slow and steady. I jokingly say “who wants to carry my pack” and to my surprise Stella takes it and carries it for me. Thanks for being my pack mule! Great views over Webster and Jackson. At last we make it to Mizpah Hut in the early afternoon and take a break, have a snack, share some ciders, and the others debate whether or not to continue on over Pierce and Eisenhower. In the end they decide to head back down. Bye family! I hang out for a few minutes before hiking off toward Lake of the Clouds Hut with Socks, Tales, Sherpa and Blue.

Beautiful sunny day. Over Pierce and Eisenhower. Around Monroe’s summit. Then Lake of the Clouds around 6:30! All of the work-for-stay positions are taken, so I pay the $10 to sleep on the dining room floor. I make dinner in the “dungeon” (emergency shelter under the hut), change into warm clothes, and admire the sunset. I hang out in the dining hall with the other hikers – Tales, Socks, Supervisor, Tadpole, Survivor, Blue Jay, Daredevil, Balto, Mountain Laurel, Jelly Bean, Sherpa, Lighthouse, Turbo, and maybe more. I bundle up and listen to the history talk outside. It’s chilly. Back inside.

What’s the plan for tomorrow? Should be rainy and windy on Mount Washington which could be dangerous, not to mention uncomfortable. It starts raining around 8. We sit around and talk. We can set up to sleep at 9:30 and it’s a mad dash to blow up air mattresses and lay out sleeping bags. I relocate so Balto and Mountain Laurel can sleep next to each other and get shuffled around a few times before settling in next to Socks. Sleep.