AT NY-ME 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-ME 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-ME 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.

AT NY-ME Day 33

Sat, Aug 31
Miles: 17.0+0.2=17.2
Starting/ending: 1829.2-1846.2

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.

AT NY-ME Day 32

Fri, Aug 30
Miles: 10.2+0.4=10.6
Starting/ending: 1819.0-1829.2

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.

AT NY-ME Day 31

Thurs, Aug 29
Miles: 16.4
Starting/ending: 1802.6-1819.0

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…

AT NY-ME Day 30

Wed, Aug 28
Miles: 9.5+0.2=9.7
Starting/ending: 1793.1-1802.6

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.