Are the White Mountains Really White?

Day 32: Mile 298.2 to Mile 309.6

Back on trail after a zero. I avoided pancakes this morning and opted for an Oreo chocolate bar instead. My diet sucks, I know.

Mount Moriah was our first mountain in the Whites, and I must say the White Mountains lived up to their name. Well, Moriah did in this instance.

It wasn’t gloom and doom for the entire day; the sun came out about half an hour into the descent. Here’s the summit in the morning.

Here’s the summit from halfway down the mountain.

Apparently the weather can change with a blink of the eye. Who’d have thought? I don’t need a nice, clear summit to make me a happy bean because, well, mountains and Cheetos.

Moriah is possibly the nicest climb to date. It was gradual and had rocks for steps. I never thought I’d see the day where I got excited over steps, but it’s here.

North and Middle Carter were a little more tricky and involved the usual tough rock climbs.

Ended the day camping at 4,000 feet. Almost turned into a Popsicle. Note to self: must buy silk liner for my sleeping bag so I don’t shiver myself to sleep.

Oh, before I go, we hit our 300-mile mark!

On our actual trail anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been a month today.

Day 33: Mile 309.6 to Mile 321.1

South Carter, Mount Hight, Carter Dome, and the Wildcats. With the exception of Mount Hight, it was a glorious sunny day for mountain sitting. A glass of Pimms wouldn’t have gone amiss. We managed to hit our first AMC hut in time for breakfast leftovers. No shame – you’d be excited too if you got free pancakes and peaches. You can deny it, but we all love a good freebie.

Let me talk about the Wildcats for a hot second. I’m not a cat person, I’m more of a dog girl. I should have known that the mountains would have had some aspect I’d hate. Little did I know that it would be the descent. Rocks, rocks, rocks. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t steep. They’ve turned my knees into rebellious teenagers. If only I could ground them for acting out. I am just grateful it didn’t rain because that would have made for a treacherous descent. I suppose you could say the Wildcats have a very fitting name.

We got our first look at Mount Madison and Mount Washington today.

We’re not sure how far we’re going to push tomorrow. Hopefully, we’ll make it to Washington, but there’s a good chance the 3,000+ ascent to Madison will leave us making mud angels outside Madison Hut until they take pity on us and let us do work for stay.

Well, the bags under my eyes aren’t getting any smaller, probably should go to bed.

Day 34: Mile 321.1 to Mile 329.4

Hey Madison, take a chill pill. Or two. That was one of the most taxing climbs I’ve done to date. Had to take a 20-minute break halfway up the mountain to catch my breath and eat some Fizzy Worms in the name of energy.

I must admit the above treeline section of the climb was fun. Hard, but fun. A lot of climbing up and over rocks, nowhere near as terrifying as the Notch – hence why I enjoyed it. Here’s a snap for you to see.

I must have sat snacking on food for about an hour waiting for Al and Alex to show up. Not a bad way to spend the day, huh?

Summiting took a long while, but it felt great when I eventually made it.

Oh, any hummus lovers out there? If you haven’t already, you need to immediately add these delightful little balls to your food supply!

The plan was to make it to Washington but the hike to and up Madison took longer than expected. A trip to Madison Hut on the descent didn’t help our cause. Could you turn down a bowl of potato and dill soup?

We decided to end our hike and take a side trail just over a mile away because of timing and dark clouds. We’ll summit tomorrow. I’m praying for excellent weather as I’m super excited for Washington.

Day 35: Mile 329.4 to Mile 339.0

Going to open with a song today. You ready? Don’t worry, I’m sure you have a beautiful voice and you’ll do it justice! Oh, it needs to be sung to the tune of Manic Monday by The Bangles…

It’s just another rainy trail day, oh, I wish it was sunny, oh, it’s just another rainy trail day.

I had high expectations of the weather today. That, I have learned, is bad – you should never have any expectations when it comes to the weather, particularly when you’re in the mountains.

I guess I was just holding out for an awesome Mount Washington photo. I’ll play tourist and will refrain from doing the typical British thing where we complain about the weather. In all honesty, I wasn’t too bothered by the weather. Yes, it was cold, wet too (obviously), but it didn’t really get to me.

I was far too busy concentrating on the rocky terrain, because working out where to place my feet was crucial if I wanted to avoid a slip. It was also a much nicer climb than Madison yesterday, nowhere near as steep and generally just felt a lot easier.

In the perfect world I’d get every mountain view, but life isn’t always rainbows and butterflys. I’ve had some amazing views so I’m not going to cry over a foggy summit photo. After all, if I were in the UK that’s all I’d get most likely.

Staying in our first AMC hut to avoid tenting in the rain tonight. It’s currently way past my bedtime and I’m struggling to stay awake, but we can’t sleep until lights out at 9:30 p.m. because the dining room floor is our bedroom. We’re out of the cold, got a free hot dinner, and we’ll get breakfast in the morning – all I had to do was wash a few dishes so I can’t complain. This work-for-stay marlarkey is worth it for a warm belly and floor to sleep on, but I doubt I’d do it again. I cherish my sleep too much.

Day 36: Mile 339.0 to Mile 348.3

Pretty uneventful day. Started hiking around 9:30 because we had to sweep the floor and fold a few blankets in exchange for eggs, sausage patties, and blueberry coffee cake. It was a decent breakfast but the late start made it hard to get into hiking mode. It was more chore than enjoyment and I hate that. Having a headache probably didn’t help matters. I suppose days like this are inevitable.

Views weren’t the best, another foggy day so I didn’t take any photos, sorry!

Wait, that’s a lie, I got one when we got to the shelter.

I sat and ate the cheese, tortilla chips, and a pack of Starbursts I bought on a short resupply stop by the pond. The day ended on a positive note.

Day 37: Mile 348.3 to Mile 362.9

Woke up to the sound of rain. It took a moment but I eventually plucked up the courage to leave the comfort of my sleeping bag and head out. Five miles of flat terrain was probably the only thing that made me leave the shelter. That and we were planning on stopping at the AMC hut at the end of the five miles to cash in on our free baked good and buy a hot chocolate.

White fog lingered over the next few mountains; a shame because I’m sure they would have had some stunning views.


Eleven miles in we decided to stop by the next AMC hut on trail to buy soup. Just as we got there the sun decided to come out to play. We ditched the soup in favor of brownies, Starbursts, and other miscellaneous snacks and basked in the sun’s glory for a while. When I say awhile, I’m talking a good two hours.

One of those really doesn’t count. Have you ever had your parents try to order something off REI for you because you don’t have good enough service to open an internet page? Bless their cotton socks.

I really didn’t want to move on from the hut. I could have stayed there all day, actually. When you’ve been cold to the core for the last two days the sun will make you lazy. However, being lazy dried my wet socks, so is there really anything to feel bad about?

The last few miles were long but we got to climb up this super cool waterfall.

Day 38: Mile 362.9 to Mile 374.5

Where do I even begin? Mount Garfield was only an elevation gain of a couple of hundred feet but it felt more like a thousand. It wasn’t difficult, I just think the Whites have exhausted me. The weather probably didn’t help. Where is the sun? I did manage to get a cool cloud shot, though. Check this out.

Moving on to Lafayette, boy oh boy was she a pain in my backside. Jumping on the fake news bandwagon. How many false summits can one mountain have? The fog was insufferable. You couldn’t see more than 50 feet in front you. If I were driving my fog lights would have definitely been on. I would have been that annoying person you’d honk at for doing 30 miles an hour on the highway. Luckily for you I’ve never had to drive in fog in yet.

When I eventually made the real summit I was feeling a little blue. Sat in the fog and rain, I turned to my I’m Still Alive WhatsApp group and requested photos of my dogs while eating. Can you guess what? Nailed it, of course it was a Pop-Tart. Still not bored of them yet. Anyway, the family all pulled together to put some cheer in my foggy mood with photos and videos of the little pigs (dogs).

Next on the agenda was Lincoln.

Another foggy summit, but the foggy mood had been lifted.

I sat on the mountain for a good 40 minutes admiring the glorious view. I jest, of course; I was enjoying a good conversation with the rents. Family’s pretty awesome – most of the time. Love you really guys, no need to abuse the group chat.

Just as I was able to leave guess what happened? Oh yes, the sun came out at long last. I actually got to see something other than plain old white. I wasn’t ready to move on at that point so I sat for a bit longer while taking in the surrounding mountains.

Franconia Ridge has been the talking point of almost all NOBOs I’ve passed. I’d been looking forward to it for days because of the hype. The odds were in my favor as it turned out; I got to walk across the ridge with the sun shining on me.

If I hadn’t sat on Lincoln for so long I would have missed out because the glorious burning ball of gas disappeared the moment I stepped foot on Little Haystack Mountain.

We ended the day at Cascade Brook. Stealth camping led us to a gorgeous campsite. My tent was on a few rocks and slightly slanted, but the cascade was pretty. Went for a ten-minute dip and cleaned myself up, so that was a bonus.

Day 39: Mile 374.5 to Mile 386.1

Would you believe me if I said it was a day of no views again? Here’s the proof just in case you don’t believe me. I know us Brits have a reputation for being grumpy and whiney (especially when we’re abroad), but I can assure you this is far from the case.

It wasn’t until late afternoon when I lived up to the stereotype. I just couldn’t seem to stay on my feet. Slip after slip, fall after fall. I needed a good dose of “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down,” but sadly no one was around to inject that. Instead I had unknowingly entered into Trail Wars. After plummeting to the ground for the hundredth time (fifth if we’re shooting for accuracy), I stepped off a rock into what I thought was ordinary mud. Oh no. This was no ordinary mud, this was a mud pit. Sock deep in thick, squishy, smelly mud. Oh yes ladies and gents, I was having a grand old ball.

I’ll only continue to whine about my day if I carry on so I’ll save your ears and end the day there.

Day 40: Mile 386.1 to Mile 397.8

SO MUCH YES, I have to capitalize for dramatic effect. I did it! I conquered the White Mountains. I can’t quite find the word to describe exactly how I’m feeling. I’m tired, physically drained, and stringing together a proper sentence is a challenge, yet I’m overjoyed.

Mount Moosilauke has been my biggest fear since starting the Whites. “One wrong step and you’ll slip right off the waterfall to your death.” A group of NOBOs had scared the living daylights out of me. I’d been made to believe it was quite possibly the scariest mountain in existence. I’m still trying to decide whether it’s difference in perspective, or their desire to mess with us SOBOs.

Not all of the NOBOs description was #fakenews. The climb up was steep. Extremely steep. It was also super pretty and pretty darn cool. However, we weren’t climbing up a waterfall, we were climbing next to a waterfall. One wrong step would have led to our deaths? One wrong step may have seen us fall, but to our deaths? I can’t say that’s 100 percentaccurate. Perhaps in their eyes, they had been battling with rain and I can see how rain, plus climbing down (our ascent) would have been treacherous. I think it’s safe to say NOBOs and SOBOs have a completely different perspective. Perhaps it didn’t seem so bad to us because we started with Maine. We were used to steep, almost vertical ascents and descents at times, not to mention a daily scramble.

Let’s say I was pleasantly surprised as we started our ascent. I quickly realized I had nothing to be scared about and thoroughly enjoyed the climb up and down the mountain. Climbing beside a waterfall was insane. The pictures really don’t do it any justice but here’s one anyway.

The summit had me grinning from ear to ear. Everyone said if I could get through Maine and the Whites I’d be able to do the whole thing… and I finally got there!

I may not have been moving the fastest but I’ve done it. I might actually be able to pull this off. I’ll face different challenges going forward, the weather being one, but I’ll just take it one day at a time.

Oh, for the first time since I’ve been on the trail I’m actually going to have a weekend. We’re walking around a mile and a half tomorrow and taking a nero. Pretty much a zero. And then taking another day before cracking out some real miles (providing we have trail legs – it’s hard to tell on the terrain we’ve been on). Ohhhh and I can shower! It’s been ten days since a real shower. At least my smell will ward off the bears.

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