Into the Whites: Part 2
Into the Whites: Part 2
It wasn’t raining the next morning but I took my time packing, enjoying the sun I hadn’t seen for two days. The hike was flat but it went through a lot of boggy areas via boards and stepping stones. I must of not been paying attention because I slipped and suddenly I was a turtle on my back in a huge boggy mud puddle. My glasses fell off and I ran my hand frantically through the water and found them placing them nearby on a rock. My phone had slipped out and it’s pink case disappeared for a minute but I was able to scoop it up and throw it on another rock. I threw up my polls and then rocked to my side until I could stand up and dragged myself out. I ran a little and threw down my pack my vision clouded and my face, hair, eyes, and body covered with muck. I ran back forgetting what I’d done with my gasses but found them neatly on a rock with my phone. There was a stream nearby so I walked to it and sat down rinsing my body, glasses, and phone. I pulled off most of my cloths and shoes and rinsed them as well. I went back for my pack and put the muddied part in the creek and sponged away with my towel. Luckily all my stuff inside was safe due to my trash bag liner. I put my water logged clean cloths and boots back on and walked on so happy that I still had all of my belongings (especially my glasses). The path became much easier and it almost felt like road walking. I found a nice sunny place and lay out all my belongings to dry. It took awhile but walking in dry cloths is a lot easier. I made it to Zealand Falls Hut and got some potato soup and some pulled pork leftovers. One of my NOBO friends was there and when we were done hanging out I found Dugood and Midday at the waterfall which I had to put my feet in. I only walked another mile before finding a perfect stealth campsite near a view point. I hadn’t camped alone for awhile and was excited at the prospect of no platform, no fee, and no work for stay. That night it was just my tent, my food, and me hanging out in the wonderful outdoors!
A Little Sun
I planned to have a big day the next day but set off from camp late again (a bad habit I’ve formed lately). I saw quite a few day hikers out as I walked through the forest. The trail followed a ridge for the better half of the day and the walking wasn’t that hard until my climb up to south twin. South Twin had spectacular views of Francoinia Ridge and Washington. I hung out and basked in the sun for a little too long. The downhill was super rough and when I got to Galehead Hut it was already 5 PM. I asked if there were any other Thru Hikers and the guy said no and offered a work for stay. I decided I might as well and settled in a corner and cooked some dinner while making friends with some of the guests (who gave me food). There were only three Crew members at the hut and all were super friendly and one had Thru Hiked. The past Thru hiker did a program that evening for the guests on trail work, and then I went inside to do the few dishes and ate some leftover pasta and peanut butter squares. The moon rose that night and was excellent because it was almost a full moon. I went to sleep in the corner of the dining room quite content with my day.
The smell of cooking woke me the next day and I drank a cup of coffee while preparing for the day. After eating a crumbled pop-tart and hearing the weather report I was ready to hike. I was doing good on time before running into a bunch of familiar faces including Blueberry Yum Yum and Easy. I stopped to eat lunch and grab water at the pond before the ascent to Franconia Ridge. It was quite a climb up but well worth it. I was above tree line again and I could see for miles except the Presidential range was covered by clouds. There was a mass of people on Lafayette so I didn’t linger long. I followed the ridge over to Lincoln where I sat a bit taking everything in. I had plenty of water so after going below tree line I found a few campsites and picked the one with a view and settled in for the night.
The Secret Hostel
It rained in the night but I figured I didn’t have far to go so I waited for my tent to dry out (which took some time). The walking was easy relative to the other things I’d had to deal with lately but I ran into several NOBOs I knew and after all was said and done it took me around the same time to get down. When I got to the bottom I forgot to check my guide book and missed the trail that goes to the parking lot. After going under the interstate I realized something was wrong. I read the trail was a mile long to the parking lot and, well I cried. It was really silly but I wanted to get to Lincoln before the pharmacy closed and my chances weren’t looking too hot. Luckily, I ran into a section hiking couple who were headed in that way: they gave me a lift to town. After going to the pharmacy I walked through town towards a location that had been described to me by people as a “secret hostel”. We will call it “Bobs” for now because I don’t know if the guy running it would want this online. “Bob” was a really nice guy who ran a work for stay or donation based hostel and would quiz you at the door to make sure you’re a Thru Hiker. Luckily I passed the test and went to go set up my tent out back. I got to chat with many people that night as there may of been 30 people there in an out of the garage. I had a late dinner at the brew pub and then crashed to the sound of rain pounding on my tent into the night.
The next morning I went to resupply and spent some time exploring the downtown area of Lincoln NH for kicks. I went into a few stores and bought a skirt (been wanting to try one out for awhile). I went back to the hostel and finished packing and then went out to lunch for pizza and ice cream. The ice cream was a mistake. It was already a dreary cold day and I was instantly cold and not in a hiking mood. I got back to the hostel and tried to warm up but the other hiker I was hanging out with kept saying things like “I wouldn’t want to be hiking on a day like today”. I caved in and decided to stay. I’ve been having some motivational problems on the trail lately. That with the mix of distractions and tough terrain has resulted in my milage to plummet. I hope I can get out of this slump soon! After deciding to stay a couple more people showed up and then I went shopping/exploring again and found a Thai place in town that was pretty tasty. I went to bed hoping to get an early start the next day.
Lost on a Road
I didn’t get that early start. I slept in because a hiker (who I will not name) placed his sleeping mat in a way that had his head very close to mine and then he snored very loudly. I had lost my ear plugs so I didn’t sleep much that night and after packing up I was on a quest for coffee. After 10 AM I struggle to leave most towns and when I got back it was around that time. I downloaded an audiobook while talking with a group trying to procrastinate as much as I could. Eventually I decided I would leave with the group of folks leaving at noon to get McDonalds (this finally got me out of the hostel). When we finally got to McDonald’s and ate, another hiker had friends that could give us a lift if we just waited a bit more. One of the group members said he knew a short cut back to the trail which wouldn’t involve the mile long walk. So he directed our ride to drop us off at the exit on the Highway and we started walking back. Our leader after awhile decided we were going the wrong way so we walked back, then he realized we should of been dropped 2 miles from where we were. Grumpily we walked on the road for a mile in the hot sun until we reached the parking lot I’d originally arrived at and ended up following the same mile long trail back to the AT. I wasn’t very happy about this and the McDonald’s wasn’t sitting well in my stomach so I hiked slow. After talking with my dad on the phone I picked up my stride and arrived at the Hut earlier than planned and knew I could make the shelter before it got dark. That was until I accidentally followed the wrong trail for 30 minutes around the pond before coming back to where I’d started. I had missed the white blaze up to the hut and instead followed what I thought were white blazes and signs saying to the AT. Frustrated I tried hiking but kept tripping in anger. Luckily there was a small stream and from the trail I saw a stealth campsite just a little below so I threw up my tent and hoped the next day wouldn’t be another fiasco.
I got an earlier start the next morning and trudged up the hill to Kinsman Mountain. I was over looking the view when a couple I had met before arrived and I talked with them for around an hour. I was trying to make up some miles that day but they warned me that what lay ahead was really slow moving and I should just stay at the next shelter. There was a cairn built into a thrown like chair on top of the next Kinsman mountain and I sat there awhile enjoying my comfortable seat. The downhill was a little sketchy from there and I grabbed trees to keep myself from falling. I reached an older woman and heard someone in the background fall. Her hiking buddy had fallen bad and his face was below his legs and he was squished between a rock and his pack. He couldn’t move so I slid down to him and lifted his pack so he could get out of it. He thanked me and said it was lucky I’d been close by and then we parted ways. I ran into part of my old hiking family Terrible Lizard and Les Mayo and we excitedly chatted until it was time to wish each other luck and push on. It was exciting seeing them but the moment went by too fast and I was sad I wouldn’t see them again on the trail. I got to the shelter early but due to my pace I wouldn’t hit the next water source until after sunset so I decided to have an early day and relax and read. A few more familiar faces showed up that evening and I got to chat a little before crawling in my little home for the night.
Early the next morning I ran into the second half of my old hiking family, Tumbleweed and Footlong. It was really exciting seeing them as they warned me of the bogs and we exchanged advice. Soon it was time to continue to hike so I wished them good luck and hoped I’d see them some day off the trail. I continued up Wolf Mountain which didn’t offer many views but a nice rock to sit on with a few more familiar faces. I headed down to the road where a few streams ran and there were plenty of flat spaces. The sky was threatening for rain so I decided to call it a day and set up for the night and was joined by two girls later on. At around one in the morning we were also joined by some loud boys that woke us up but I got out of my tent and said, “It’s like one in the morning, can you keep it down?”. That seemed to do the trick but I never truly fell back asleep that night.
Waterfalls and White Outs
I woke up early the next day and the two girls joked I should let my bear bag fall on one of the guys tents (they’d set up right underneath), but I played nice. It started to rain just as I finished packing and was ready to hike. I was going up my last big mountain in the Whites today and even though it was raining the hike was really cool. The first mile and half took me an extremely long time but followed a stream full of waterfalls. There were steps built into the slab rock at times and if you slipped in certain places it could of been deadly. I was happy I was going up and not down this one. The grade evened out eventually and the last two miles up Mossulauke were mild compared to recent mountains. It was a total white out on top but I stayed for an hour hoping that it would clear and I’d see the views everyone had been talking about. It didn’t clear so I started on my way down the mountain and within a mile I looked back and blue sky sat on top. I was a little sad but mostly ok with it since I’d seen enough magnificent views in the Whites already. The trail started to change back to an easy grade and I made it down the mountain to the Hikers Welcome Hostel in good time. There I caught a shuttle to a gas station that also had a deli inside. I bought beer, pizza, and food to get me to Hanover. Later in the evening I enjoyed the beer and pizza as a gift to myself for finishing the “hardest” section of the trail
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The bog sounded awful but glad you didn’t lose your glasses and cell phone to the mud. Love the way you write….it’s like I’m there. Funny stories mixed with frustration, like the guy who kindly drove you two miles in the wrong direction, then getting lost sounds like twice ? aarrggg ! I think we’ve all had frustrating days where we pedal backwards, so it’s like we can relate !
Your pictures and experiences are amazing by the way !