Leaving the Presidents to the Elections
Post-dated – 8/28/16
We made it! Huzzah! Congratulations to the Phanny Pack, we have officially traversed the Presidential Range. I’m sitting at a wooden hexagonal table in the basement (read dungeon) of the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. Unfortunately, there are only three other people at this particular table and I fear it feels it hasn’t yet achieved its full potential. Poor fellow. Maybe I can find two more people and right this injustice…
Back to the matter at hand, let’s have a little chat about the Presidential Range and the Whites in general, since we’re almost through them. They have these neat little huts set up at various points along the trail for regular hikers to stay at during their vacations. I’ll spare you some of my less flattering rantings on these huts, run by the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC, read Affluent Money Club), but I would like to say they could be great and… they’re just not. That is, they’re wonderful places if you have $130 lying around to stay in one and you have a reservation. If, by chance, you happen to be a poor AT thru-hiker on the other hand, well, you’re probably s.o.l. on receiving all but the most grudging attempts at hospitality. They have to pack out all their food so they give the leftovers to us (yay!) and they have soup for sale at a very reasonable $2 (double yay!) but, they also don’t exactly seem to enjoy our presence all that much (boo! we’re great company!). In theory these huts allow us to work for stay (crash on floor) but none of them are all too eager to actually let us take advantage of such seemingly good-natured generosity. We managed to stay one night and did score a bit of chow at a few places so I’ll kindly shut up and quit bitching about the huts, for now anyways.
On the table front, we just made a new friend. Hexagonal Table has nearly achieved its lifelong purpose. I wonder what happens if we actually get six… perhaps the universe will end…
So Mt Washington is a real big bastard BUT it’s by no means the biggest bastard. In reality, Mt Washington is what I like to call a, “Tourist Mountain,” meaning it has been manicured and paved and gussied up to accommodate a wide variety of hiker persons. This is great news for us since the trails are generally easy(ish) and decently marked for once. On the other hand, Tourist Mountains are chalked full of tourists (duh?) who don’t bring enough water, don’t understand trail etiquette and want to ask us all sorts of mundane questions. This usually culminates with a grandiose, “Welcome to New Hampshire!” thrown in for flavor, right when we’re trying to put down the miles. It never fails, if you’re in a hurry, somebody will stop you and inevitably ask the least interesting question they can think of. Every time. Needless to say, the rest of the Presidential Range is far more quiet, if far more wild and less easily hikeable.
Most of the climbs consist primarily of rock hopping and it’s older cousin, bouldering. We’re talking straight up rock climbing with 40 pounds on your back in a few places — FANTASTIC! We spent an incredible amount of time hiking along exposed ridges with winds whipping by at a steady 30mph with gusts in excess of 60mph in some cases. God! I could die happy after some of the views we got in the past week. Nothing could possibly compare to the feeling that comes from knowing you walked up that mountain over there, and that one too, oh, and that whole range back there. Yup, these feet pushed me up all of those. Then you look ahead and you just know the colossal hunks of rock on the horizon are on your hit list. It’s an incredible feeling, a powerful feeling and I’ll stop there because trying to describe them would be like trying to explain flight to a penguin. It would not only make you jealous but I could also never hope to do the experience justice, not with all the words we humans have ever derived. My advice: take the time to go hiking in the White Mountains, you’ll thank yourself (and I suppose, by proxy, thank me).
From here we keep moving towards Maine and then Katahdin before jumping back down to finish the middle section. Even though it’s still over 300 miles away, Katahdin feels uncomfortably close. I’m going to miss the North when we jump back down, it’s just not the same. Looking ahead, we go through the best and hardest mile of the trail just after crossing into Maine, known as Mahousik Notch. Lots and Lots of bouldering to be done — I can’t wait!! Besides that, just more treacherous gorgeous mountains to climb, good friends to chat with and as much ridiculous early 2000’s hip-hop and pop music as the ears can handle. Cheers!
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