Day 141 – Fantasy Hikeball

I woke up on the floor of the Lake of the Clouds Hut as people started to stir. We had to start packing up early so the paying hut customers could come in and eat breakfast. Once packed up, I put my things outside and made my coffee, protein, oatmeal breakfast drink.

Toto and Backed Up joined me inside to stay warm. We watched the Hut CROO perform a  rendition of the Wizard Of Oz with commentary about being a good steward of the mountain and not littering and such. It wasn’t the pinnacle of comedy, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

Instead of waiting for free breakfast, Toto and I decided to summit Mt Washington and try the food selection at the top. We counted how many hikers we passed on the way up the 1.4 mile trip to the summit. The final tally was 22.

We had a good chat on the way up and got to know each other better. His mom was in the military and he has a degree in finance. We talked broad topics like choice theory, what we’re doing after the trail, and our siblings. We definitely added some new layers and depth to the character that is Toto. He’s an interesting dude for sure.

At the top we had hopes of good views, but the peak stayed marred by clouds for much of the day. I explored the small cafeteria Mt Washington had to offer. I had a surprisingly good egg salad sandwich and a coffee. I got a chance to charge my devices and reply to a med school buddy of mine. He had offered to host me for the evening at his home in Littleton, NH. But first I had to make it down the mountain.

Hot feet and I tried our hand at hitching the train down the mountain but apparently you need to pay for a ticket. So we walked. We rode the steep ridge line down a seemingly never ending cascade of broken and jagged boulders. While not the worst terrain I’ve had on the trail, it left us wanting flat dirt by the end of it.

The views however, were the same spectacular scenery we’ve become spoiled by in the whites. The glacier cut valleys were deep and expansive on either side of the ridge line we walked.

From the top of Mt Washington, we traversed mountainous ups and downs for the next 6 miles to the peak of Mt Madison. After that we were in for a steep 2,500-foot descent. By the time we got to the bottom our knees were screaming.

Luckily, 5 relatively flat miles stood between us and the end of the day. It was uneventful if you don’t count almost rolling my ankle 3 times on flat trail. I’m not sure if it was just fatigue or the rips appearing in my Hoka Speed-goats after less than 150 miles. But it was definitely not the section of trail I’d have guessed to have issues walking.

We arrived at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center just before 7:00. My buddy Josh showed up shortly after to scoop up myself and Hot Feet to host us for the evening. We had McDonalds on the way back and spent the rest of the evening catching up on life’s happenings for the last decade.

Driving through New Hampshire and arriving in Littleton, was reminiscent of my hometown and the density of trees in the area. We arrived at Josh’s house and got to meet the rest of the family. His mother thru-hiked the AT in 1978 and made it halfway before her friend got appendicitis. Back then she was one of only 300 people to attempt a thru-hike that year. In contrast my start number was 2568 this year on April 14th.

I ended the night with my fantasy football draft. I wasn’t ecstatic about my team selection but also not upset about it. I was surprised to see however that my draft selection were given a grade of A+.

We retired for the night and I crashed in one of the most comfortable beds I’ve slept in for a long time. Josh really went out of his way to make us feel comfortable and he was super accommodating. Looking forward to spending more time with them all in the morning.

Stow away in my pack for Day 142 on the Appalachian Trail.

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