The One with Mighty Moosilauke [AT mile 1613.9-1803.7]
Day 129: 14.4 miles from Bennington, Vermont to Kid Gore Shelter (yes i hate the name too)
Day 130: 23 miles to Spruce Peak Shelter
Day 131: 17.6 miles to Lost Pond Shelter
Day 132: 18.6 miles to Clarendon Shelter
Day 133: 16.7 miles to US Route 4, Rutland, Vermont
Day 134: 17.5 miles to Greengate rd parking
Day 135: 19.4 miles to VT 14, West Hartford, VT
Day 136: 9.9 miles to Hanover, NH
Day 137: 19.5 miles to Lyme-Dorchester rd
Day 138: 19.3 miles to Ore Hill Brook
Day 139: 13.9 miles to Kinsman Notch
Total miles on the Appalachian trail: 1803.7
Guess who’s still alive!
The day I left Bennington, VT, a decently severe thunderstorm hit the trail and separated me from the other three I had been hiking with who were ahead of me (Pickles, Pace, and Fiddlehead). I was nearing the top of a mountain and, hearing the thunder boom ever louder, decided to wait out the storm in the shelter just before the summit. Inside the shelter were many other hikers with the same idea, including one I knew from a previous thunderstorm.
Remember the guy who had the tree fall on him after it was struck by lightning? Yep he’s still out here, alive and kicking. And with a new healthy fear of lightning similar to my own. We talked about that fateful day, laughing about the wildness of it. I will never forget running for my life to the tunes of “Benny and the Jets” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” with him. (And in case you’re wondering, no I could not feel the love in that particular moment.)
Just keep swimming
I love hiking, I really do. But I also really love swimming. Any day (thats hot), in anything deeper than a puddle. I’ve had many chances to swim so far, most recently in Stratton Pond and Clarendon Gorge, both of which the trail goes right past. Clarendon does require a little scrambling to get down to though.
Rivers and roads
Sometimes things don’t go as planned. This is the story of one of those times.
Pickles, a girl I’ve been hiking with for a while, had planned a date for her dad to come visit her and slackpack her and her friends (well, just me, cause the boys don’t want to slackpack…I know, they’re weird, but we don’t hold it against them). She arranged for him to meet us on one of Vermont’s many small roads. So we carried a day’s worth of snacks, planning to get picked up and spend the night in a hotel room. Problem was, this stretch of land only pretended to be a road. When we arrived, it revealed its true nature: a shallow river. Which, in my experience, needs a boat, not a car, to navigate down. Unfortunately, Pickles’ dad was driving a Nissan and not a pontoon.
Other problem: this lovely “road” had zero cell service, so contacting Pickles’ dad to alert him to the change of plans proved very difficult. After attempting to walk down the “road” and realizing the extent of it’s impenetrability, we decided our best course of action was to hike 4ish more miles to a supposed parking area and hope we could make contact with her dad along the way.
I don’t think I’ve ever hiked 4 miles so fast, and after an already long day of hiking in the rain. Oh yeah, third problem: it was raining. When Fiddlehead and I reached the road, we found Pace sitting alone. No Pickles. No car. No dad. Not the most encouraging sight at 7:30 at night.
But moments later, the glorious vision of twin headlights peaked through the trees around a curve in the road. A window rolled down revealing Pickles and her dad, and we escaped to food, hot showers, and rain-free rooms.
There are lots of times on trail where things don’t go as planned, and you really gotta just roll with the punches. Don’t fight the Appalachian Trail, you’ll lose every time.
On day 136, Pickles decided to zero to spend time with her dad, so the boys and I hiked 10 miles through the rain and across the VT/NH border!
New Hampshire is our second to last state on trail and it doesn’t feel real. I can’t believe after all this time, a sloth can count the number of states I have left on one hand. That’s ridiculous, how am I this close? I know I still have a long ways to go, but it’s suddenly hitting me how far I’ve come.
Mighty Moosilauke the Murderer
Mt. Moosilauke is the first of the White Mountains when hiking NOBO. Everyone always says how terribly impossibly difficult it is, but I honestly didn’t think it was that bad. The key is to take your time.
It’s 4.1 miles from the parking area to the summit, and I did it in just under 2.5 hours. And it’s 3.7 miles down the other side, which took me just over 2.5 hours. The descent was definitely the harder part for me, as my knees are pretty wrecked and the descent is all big rocks, most of which were wet. Didn’t help that part of the trail is literally in a stream. It was on the descent where the White Mountains claimed their first casualty.
Pretty early in the descent something went wrong and I fell forward. I sustained no injuries, but my faithful trekking pole paid the price. Snapped right inside one of the adjustor parts. So sad.
Thankfully, after we descended Moosilauke we headed into Lincoln, NH where we stayed with Tery, a great guy I met way back in Hiawassee, Georgia at the end of my first week on trail. Lincoln has a great outfitter called Lahout’s where one of their staff, instead of selling me a cheap single pole that he was sure would not survive the Whites (said he would feel guilty selling it to me), made me a pole out of spare parts from better poles and sold it to me for the price of the cheap pole. I’ve used it for a few days now and it is working wonderfully. That’s some phenomenal customer service right there.
We are zeroing tomorrow here in Lincoln, then heading out to experience what the rest of the White Mountains have in store. If it’s anything like Moosilauke, we’re in for a wild ride 🙂
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