New Hampshire in the Buff on Hike Naked Day
After a two-night rest at the Yellow Deli Hostel in Vermont, it was time to move on to my next state: New Hampshire.Check out my video of my days in New Hampshire leading up to the White Mountains:
Crossing the Border
After leaving the Yellow Deli Hostel in Rutland, VT, I continued onward through the beautiful Green Mountains. My infected toenail seemed to be getting better with the antibiotics I’d picked up in town. I spent my last night in Vermont stealth camping in top of a ridge watching an amazing sunset.
The next day was easy as I hiked along relatively flat trail. I encountered my first porcupine as it scurried up a tree. The weather was great and the little towns I passed through were loaded with trail magic. At long last I crossed the Connecticut River and entered New Hampshire. Only two states left! In Hanover, I picked up some new shoes at the post office. My Oboz had made it through 1,000 miles but it was time for some new kicks. I stopped in for dinner at a pub in town where they let thru-hikers sign the wall… and so Crazy Horse lives on in sharpie. The town of Hanover had an entire list of trail angels that will let you stay at their home. I took one of these angels up on their magic and enjoyed a shower and warm bed for the night. Despite my infected toenail I was still putting in 26-mile days.
I woke up in wonderful Hanover. A bakery downtown gave thru-hikers a free pastry, which I indulged in. Back on the trail I cam across a bag of homemade cookies left behind from a fellow hiker I’d met, Trademark. The last few days have been filled with magic.
It was June 21, the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and of course… Hike Naked Day. It’s a hiker tradition to hike nude on the summer solstice. I already saw some other AT hikers on Instagram documenting the holiday. I assume many hikers strip down, snap a pic, and pull their shorts back up; I was not one of those hikers. Once I felt far enough out of Hanover that I wouldn’t land myself a ticket for indecent exposure, I dropped my drawers and covered myself in bug repellent. Off through New Hampshire I go.
It felt great hiking along, feeling the breeze, staying cool. The bugs seemed to stay away and the temperature was perfect. I came across a day hiker sitting in the woods. He looked up at me and simply said, “Oh, is it Hike Naked Day?” He knew what was up. Eventually I began the climb up Moose Mountain. At the summit I had a great view of New Hampshire. I used the timer on my phone to snap some pictures until an elderly hiker came along. He was a bit surprised at my lack of attire and I explained the holiday to him. He asked what the women think when they see me. He was the second person I’d seen that day so I didn’t have a truthful answer for him. We chatted a bit and he continued on his way. After about three hours in the buff, I had sweat all my bug spray off and didn’t feel like wasting it all on the places where the sun don’t shine. And so my holiday revelry ended and I put my shorts back on.
The day ended with a steep climb up Smarts Mountain. I climbed the fire tower and watched the sun set on the longest day of the year. It was truly magical. Trademark was in the tower as well and I thanked him for the trail magic cookies earlier that day. Having started my hike so early (Feb. 28) the number of hikers still in the game was thinning. I wasn’t running into thru-hikers too often these days.
After a wonderful solstice, I climbed down Smarts Mountain and then up Mount Cube. The antibiotics were helping my infected toe but it wasn’t enough. My toenail still looked grotesque. I knew the trail would bring obstacles so I persevered. Onward I continued to the Hikers Welcome Hostel just shy of Mount Moosilauke. I rested up for the night and ran into a few other familiar hikers.
In the morning I set out into some fair weather to Mount Moosilauke, the first 4,000+ foot peak in the north. And man, it was a climb. It was steep and rocky and exhausting. I was thankful for the cool weather to keep me from sweating. Near the summit I ran into a trail club from Boston that bestowed upon me more trail magic than I could carry. I was so grateful and ate as much as I could. The trees were shrinking in size; this was the first time on the trail I had hiked into an alpine zone. The trees disappeared and the wind picked up like a hurricane.
But I had reached the summit and it was beautiful. The White Mountains were on the horizon and I never felt so alive. This was the moment that made the toils and trials of the trail worth it. I could have stood on the summit all afternoon and taken in the view but rain clouds were barreling toward me and as soon as I hiked down to treeline again, the downpour began.
The descent quickly became miserable as I navigated the extremely steep and slippery trail. I slipped a few times and my knees suffered. I tried to look on the bright side: I had great weather on the summit and I’d rather have the rain now than in the coming days through the White Mountains. By the time I reached a shelter, of course, it was full with section hikers. I found a spot to stealth and did my best to dry off my wet clothes. The whites were ahead and I was excited.
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