Killington, VT to Gorham, NH
Day 99 (July 16th)
Did a 17 mile day out of Killington to Winturri shelter. Not bad for starting back at 10:30 and taking a 1.5 hour lunch break. Po-boy has come back to us. He caught up after some massive days and passing through some towns that I stayed in.
Staying at the Killington motel was the right move. I woke up to the owner roasting coffee out back and a fantastic breakfast this morning, it was sensational. Pretty much ups and downs all day today. Our highlight view was from the lookout cabin. Lightning, Pork Chop, Tick Tock, Miles, PoBoy and I all got up on the roof deck and saw what we had completed and what was to come. We theorized about which mountain ranges were the presidents in the Whites and how difficult and fun it is going to be. Another PUD (pointless ups and downs) day tomorrow, but the opportunity for a deli by lunch time awaits.
Marathon day (26.3 miles) into Hanover.
Took a zero in Hanover, NH. After the marathon day and before The Whites, we really needed a day to prepare. Miles, Pork Chop, Tick Tock, Lightning and I had a nice time. Turns out that a hiker who I have not seen since Hot Springs, NC lives over in Norwich. Paddington was his name and he came over to give us a ride over to the outfitter. EMS was the name of it and was in the same complex as the LL Bean store. Had about just as much luck with replacing my poles… No place is carrying replacement parts, just full pole sets. Either way, I will carry that pole up Katahdin fixed or not. I spent the rest of the day just napping and exploring Dartmouth college. Got a free slice of pizza in town for being a hiker. Also got recognized by someone on the Dartmouth campus for my blog. Good times.
Day 102 (July 19th)
Campfire and Rolling Thunder dictated my day. We rolled out of the hotel at 8:15 and hit the trail by 8:30. The humidity and bugs were at an all time high today. Then the rain hit… Several hours of pouring until lunch time.
I had these grandiose plans of doing a 23 mile day to the fire warden’s cabin. By lunchtime, I had not completed half of my miles for the day.
My feet have not been doing well the past few weeks. Not really blisters, but peeling and trench foot. Just ready to be done with this. So, I made it to Trapper John Shelter at 4pm and was contemplating pushing another 6.7 miles (all uphill). However, some section hiker guys had started a fire, thunder was constantly rumbling and I was just done for the day, so I called it quits. The water is good and I have a flat tent spot. Crazy storms are blowing through with lightning, hail, and thunder. Made the right decision.
Just a damn exhausting day. I started out from Trapper John’s at 7 and did the first 3 miles in a hour. I was feeling pretty good about my pace for the day and thought I would be able to make it all the way to the hikers welcome hostel by this afternoon, but by the afternoon I was done. Half of the day was spent sloshing through mud and water. The massive rainstorm turned the trail into a river. No chance of keeping your shoes and socks dry. My feet are as worse they have ever been. I usually wear injiji toe socks as a loner, but both of my pairs have multiple holes and are worn down to paper thin quality. So I didn’t wear a pair today and my feet felt like hell all day. Letting them air out several times today didn’t help much. The pressure points on my feet are dyed black from my smartwool socks. Chunks of skin peeling off, it hurts. About to come up on the hardest hiking of the trail and my feet are not 100%. Not good…
Toward 4 o’clock, my feet were too soaked to comfortably walk in any further. So I stopped at the Ore Hill campsite. The group I had been hiking with has pushed in farther, but I was not feeling it. Doing 19.5 miles felt respectable, given the rough terrain today. I couldn’t help but listen to 2 women section hikers talk to each other at the top of their lungs while in their tent. One was literally reading aloud to the other and could be heard from too far away. People without situational awareness out here are the worst. Tomorrow I shall visit the hostel and tackle Mount Moosilauke. My first taste of the White Mountains.
Had my first real day in the Whites today. Caught back up with Lightning, Pork Chop and Tick Tock before climbing Mount Moosilauke. We stopped for a mid morning snack at the Hikers Welcome hostel and devoured some sodas and B12 to fuel us up the mountain. Took us 2 hours to climb that beast. Though it was not as physically demanding as I thought it was ridiculously long. Every time you turn a corner, it still seemed to go up. But by the time the summit arrived, I felt like I had boatloads of energy. The summit was above tree line which was unexpected and it was cold which felt amazing after sweating out most of the daily water consumption.
The day after the summit looked so promising and we planned on going into town for our resupply. All four of us fucked up and went down the wrong trail down the entire mountain. We took the Benton trail down the entire thing and got spit out at a river with no crossing. We were 3.4 miles from the road having to traverse some logging and service roads. Then it started to pour…already exhausted from the day and the amount of shit we had to push through to get to the road, all we wanted was to get to town. Literally the first car picked us up after our hitch attempt. A hiker from the 90s picked us up and sped us to town. He even offered to give us a ride back in the morning. Such damn good luck. The rest of the day was spent eating and doing laundry. Spirits instantly lifted from a total trail fuck up.
Day 105 (July 22)
Got a late start coming out of town. Staying at this motel, we gr a free breakfast sandwich from the deli across the street. The same guy who drove us to town gave us his number and drove us to the outfitter and back to the trailhead. Thank you Brian who looks like Robert Duvall and pans for gold. These mountains are damn difficult. Photos cannot do the kinds of climbs justice.
Around every corner, there is just more up. Lots of technical climbs where the trekking poles are useless. Got to see my first hut today. Damn did it look like paradise. People were playing cards, food was being made and the drinking water was flowing. I just grabbed some free water and made my way down the trail to find a stealthy free campsite. Found one next to cascade brook.
Today was a damn hard day. Even with starting at 7:30AM and ending at 5:30PM, we only managed to cover 14.5 miles. The climbs were ridiculously steep and the downhills took 3 times as long as they normally should as a result. Didn’t get as lucky going over the first presidential ranges. The weather was unpredictable as always. It has to be 40-50 degrees and the wind speeds was over 50 miles per hour. Hiking those 2 miles above tree line were miserable. No views and some technical hiking that slowed you down. Being completely in the clouds the whole time sucked but you can’t see it all. Seeing to where we were hiking next is nice though. Gives you some damn perspective. We stopped at the galehead hut for potable water and possibly some food and we got lucky with some soup for sale. One of the lovely members of the croo told us about a stealth site just past the hut and it was perfect.
All of this crazy terrain done today with just one trekking pole. My left one snapped in half going up Franconia. Not sure if I will buy a new set for this last stretch.
Had gargantuan climbs at the beginning and end of today. Woke up in the clouds this morning and none of us wanted to get out of our tents. First time hating the mornings since the smokies. Lots of flat though today and was the easiest section of the whites.
We Did a 16.5 mile day to the top of Webster cliffs. Crazy to think that I will be going over Mt. Washington tomorrow. Been looking at that beast since the day I got my AWOL book.
The second hitch in New Hampshire was just as fantastic as the first one. Again, this person was another through hiker and drove us back to the trail after we were done resupplying. Anne, who works at the huts as a naturalist was the one driving us. A 10+ mile hitch into town and back out was great. Having enough food to last us into the second Gorham crossing is great. Getting more of this terrain done before getting into town will make it feel better.
Day 108 (July 25th)
Today was a ridiculously big day. I did the entire Presidential Range of mountains. Doing this on a weekend may have been a bad idea. The sheer amount of people hiking the trail was unmanageable. Just constantly having to pass people is awkward. Then we get to the big daddy of mount Washington. The bottom is the lake of the clouds hut, and is jammed with people. It was a conga line up that damn mountain. It started to rain as soon as we got to the top. An hour and a half break was needed.
Too exhausted to write anymore.. Another massive day tomorrow…
Day 109(July 26th)
Rain brings out the town impulse in all of us. After packing up a soaking tent covered in slugs and sliding and falling down the 6
Miles to Pinkham notch, all of us decided to go into Gorham, NH.
Calories consumed and hot tubbing commenced.
The wildcats range can wait another day.
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Best blog of the season. You go Oliver. Keep those feet healthy. Thank you for sharing your adventure.