The White Mountains Is Where Crying Is Required

I wrote this a week behind and with one very tired braincell. The laws of reality, grammar, and human speech are dead to me after walking almost the entirety of the East Coast of the United States. So please, have fun deciphering my musings.

I digress.

Day 145

Some of you have had the pleasure of not having hormonal rage. I hope you feel lucky and blessed that you haven’t had the joys of losing your shit on anyone around for no reason other than a *slight shift in your body’s chemicals.

I am working really hard to not catastrophize and let my mind get the better of me. Everything just feels 1000x worse when I am on my period. I feel more hungry, more tired, my pack is heavier, and everything just sucks more. I feel like I can’t keep up and can’t finish the planned miles, everything just feels unattainable.

I don’t know what I did to piss off my body, but this months Shark Week was rough. I had cramps that kept me from being able to hike, migraines that were head splitting, and incredible fatigue. During our hike for the day, I just needed to get to the hostel. I felt dirty and gross, I couldn’t handle being in my own filth any more. I wanted to call a shuttle and make up the miles the next day. I wanted to get to the hostel early and have plenty of time to do absolutely nothing.

The entire day I couldn’t handle the idea of being rushed or pushed farther. Maybe it is residual trauma about being pushed past my limits and comfort level, but I couldn’t handle the idea of getting into the hostel late, then having no time to decompress, and then needing to rush to resupply and rush to get all of our shit done. The idea of spending any more energy made me cry and worry. That worry became anxiety. My gas tank was empty, there was no reserve to give after hiking that day.

I wasn’t my best self and I took it out on my partner. I let myself get so overwhelmed and let my mind spiral, that I ended up yelling at him and pitching a fit in the middle of the parking lot. I allowed myself to be pushed too far and didn’t effectively communicate my needs and boundaries to Dreamsicle and how I reacted was uncalled for.

In the end, I made it to Hiker’s Welcome Hostel and finished everything we needed to do. Hiker’s Welcome is a great hostel and has what a hiker needs before you enter the whites; a place to sleep, a shower, a decent resupply, a shuttle to the nearest gas station, and some amazing memes on their walls. I highly recommend that future hikers stop in and recharge there

Day 146

The funk I was in the prior day was fixed with high calorie food, a shower, and much needed rest. I could probably use more rest before entering the Whites, but I will take what I can get.

Today we summited the first of the White Mountains High Peaks, Moosilauke. I was hesitant, I had heard about the difficulty of the White Mountains and that they are not something to be tricked with. Most if my mountain experience has come from the front range in Colorado. I am used to being on top of big mountains and worrying about altitude sickness and beating storms. Due to my brilliant planning, I have now had severe altitude sickness twice and been caught in a mountain storm once. So my track record with 13,000 ft and above is not stellar and I was worried that my “luck” would follow me into the Whites.

Turns out, hiking in the mountains is a hell of a lot more pleasant when you don’t feel like you are suffocating or going to pass out. You don’t feel like your lungs are bleeding while navigating highly technical sections. It is wonderful.

Does this mean I enjoyed the hellish approach and descent of Moosilauke. No, no I did not. Where they challenging sections of trail that made me feel “slightly” more confident in my hiking skill sets? Yes. Where they god aweful and hellishly steep, with terrifying wood and rebar steps that I might break my neck on? Yes. Did I do the scary descent off Moosilauke in the rain? Yes.

As my first taste of the Whites, Moosilauke is a beast, but I am glad I stuck with it and only thought about crying a handful of times. But the fun wasn’t over yet! The Whites still have enough time to break me!

Day 147

Next on the docket are the South and North Kinsman peaks. I have decided to call them the Kinsy Twins, because it makes them seem more approachable. They are not more approachable. Especially in the rain.

If you don’t know, the Kinsman summits require some courage, but overall is a kinder ascent than Moosilauke. Hiking up to The southern summit is actually enjoyable, despite the gasping for breath and profuse amounts of sweat, with views of beautiful gushing waterfalls and lush green mosses.

I was happy once I summited, 3 White Mountain high peaks down in two days and still feeling strong. I’ll call that a win in my book.

We ended up sleeping ay Kinsman Pond shelter, which I think is one of the most beautiful campsites in the Whites.

Day 148

Welp… It rained. Not just a little rain, but heavy gross wet rain. I wasn’t pleased trying to take quickly put away all my stuff with out getting everything wet. You would think after almost 150 days on trail, I would have mastered this. But, I have not. I have mastered the “gear-splosion”, where all my shit explodes out of my pack when I set up or take down camp. It is a unique method of setting up and it does the job, unless it is raining.

Dreamsicle and I had come to the conclusion that pushing into the Whites in a massive rainstorm would be stupid. One of the first things you are told in the Whites is to watch the weather. The last thing you want is to try and tackle the extreme terrain of aome of the high peaks in the rain.

Beside not wanting to be stuck on a mountain in the rain, we needed to resupply and eat real food. We had a box in the town if North Woodstock and were in need of a shower. We were now wet, musty, and kind of gross. It was time to go in from the woods and take care of ourselves.

The 7 miles in the rain to town was… Not great. We had been warned that there was going to be two very deep and very big stream crossings. Know hikers, this could be extremely overestimated or underplayed. We were hoping the other hikers were trying to blow it out of proportions and it was just an ankle deep crossing. Well… It was a lot deeper than ankle deep, more like crotch deep and fast. While there was a way to cross it using rocks, but they were sketchy. I could see myself falling head over heels into the swift moving water.

It was also the first White Mountains Hut experience. The AMC has multiple Mountain huts through out the state park. These huts provide housing (bunks) for a very pretty penny ($145+) to hikers and visitors. At the huta they have very underpaid crews (croos as they call themselves) cook and maintain the huts. The White Mountain hut system have a very unique history and serve the needs of (paying) hikers. Sometimes if the crew is in a good mood, they will put out free cold left overs for thru hikers and will offer work for stay options to a couple lucky hikers to sleep on the dining room floor of the hut.

Instead of being miserable and wet in a hut and sleeping on the soggy floor of a hut with minimal electricity. Dreamsicle found out North Woodstock has a lovely brewery and inn where we could stay. A brewery and inn situated in a haunted victorian building.

Now, I might be biased, but the haunted brewery and inn is an unexpected benefit. Perhaps not to the rest of the lodgers, but I was extremely excited to stay in a brewery haunted by a lady in black. If it were my way, we would be friends by the end of the night. Sadly, this was not the case.

While I did see a weird looking shadow standing at the end of our bed, I don’t think it was a ghost. Probably not a ghost. Probably just exhaustion. Either way, the ghost was the least of my problems as Dreamsicle was an absolute bed hog throughout the night.

Day 149

I survived the ghost staring at us from the edge of the bed. No poltergeist activity, possessions, or items floating by themselves. Just Dreamsicle trying to unconsciously shove me out of the bed.

We gotna ride back to the trail from Rafiki, a triple crown hiker running a taxi business in North Woodstock. He gave us advice as we approached the end of the trail, that we need to savor and be present as we walk to Mt Katahdin. That we will never experience anything like this again and we are going to crave doing something like this again. So take the time, put on the breaks and enjoy. Real life will always be there, but trail time won’t.

Today we were climbing Franconia Ridge. A scenic range that includes 4 of the 48 White Mountain High peaks. We were adding on an extra bonus high peak for the day making it a longer day. We would be above tree line and exposed for most of our hike.

It was exciting being up above tree line for most of the day. It was windy and cold, the wind coming off the ridge almost blew me over. It was novel being out of the green tunnel and being able to see the next ridge you are walking to. It was mind blowing being able to see how far 1.7 miles actually is. It doesn’t look far, but feels far… spiritually.

Day 150 -151

We ended early yesterday because Franconia ridge is a lot. The Whites are a lot. To give you an idea we went from an average day of walking being a 15-18 mile day to barely covering 10 miles a day upon entering the Whites. This shit is hard. Beautiful, breathtaking, and stunning… But really fucking hard.

We ended up stealth camping at the base of Mt. Garfield at a gorgeous lake. I was to tired to actually enjoy the lake and ended up dead asleep in my tent. (Did I mention that hiking in the whites is hard?)

Im surprised with how well my body is taking the abuse of 1800 + miles of unnecessary wear and tear. I woke up minor stiffness, but was able to scramble up Mt. Garfield with minimal bitching.

Today we managed to summit, Garfield, South Twin, and Mt. Zealand. Not a bad day. To date we have managed to summit 10 of the 48 White Mountain High Peaks. Many of these peaks are not on the actual AT and are considered “bonus miles”. Of those 10, I have cried on atleast 4 of them. I am beginning to think crying is required in the White Mountains. So the extra elevation and tears really add up on the body at the end of the day.

We decided to go rogue and stealth camp near Zealand Falls Hut so we could score some left over breakfast and continue on to the next section.

Day 151

Well, we got more than just cold leftovers. We became the cheap entertainment of the hut croo for breakfast. Zealand Falls hut croo was kind enough to have us compete in the megacaker challenge. Where hikers are given a change to eat a giant pancake in 15 minutes. Both Dreamsicle and I part took in this challenge and promptly failed. We are now both sick of pancakes since the attempt.

Post megacaker challenge Dreamsicle and I felt slow and sleepy. It appears when you shove an enormous amount of carbs and maple syrup into your body, you don’t want to walk thousands of feet of elevation.

Today was relatively nice and flat. It was sunny and warm, with clear skies and a nice breeze. Allowing us to make up some miles until we got to Mt. Webster.

Fuck Mt. Webster. It is a stupid hard climb and I can’t remember if it is even a high peak. This peak requires too much effort for what it is worth, you actually have to do some actual vertical faced rock climbing. I didn’t recognize I signed up for actual rock climbing in a 30lb pack when I decided to hike the AT. The climb up Webster is incredibly exposed and rather tricky, requiring you to either have a background in rock climbing or/and be incredibly nimble. I,unfortunately, am only one of these things. I managed to on this climb: cry, scream, ram my leg into a pine tree branch, almost fall to my death, and make 5 deals with God, Mary, Jesus, and about 3 saints.

After my ordeal, we found a stealth site before Mt. Jackson and Mizpah Hut for the next day, so we could score some more free leftover breakfast.


The next 48 hours in the Whites was a blur of excitement, pain, screaming, and avoiding tourists.

We woke up in the morning and summited Mt. Jackson quick enough to get some free breakfast of cold oatmeal at Mizpah Hut. It was a nice cool morning and we caught up with many of our friends at the hut, all of us excited to start our push into the Presidential range.

I had unexpectedly *almost* run out of food. You would think I would know how to pack enough food by now, but I don’t. I am constantly hungry and eating anything in sight. I am a bottomless pit and my food bag isnt big enough to handle my needs. Thank god for the huts and their free leftovers! I managed to swipe a gallon freezer bag full of cold oatmeal, which would be my food until I could get to the gift shop on the top of Mt. Washington.

Surprisingly cold oatmeal with random toppings is great fuel to get you through the firat half of the presidentials. It was a cloudy and windy day, and the surrounding mountains were covered with clouds, meaning the views were not superb. We managed to get to the Lake of the Clouds hut without a problem and made the joint decision to wait until the next morning to finish the presidentials.

I’m so glad that we chose to wait.

The next day was amazing but rough. We managed to get to the summit of Mt. Washington at 8 am before any tourists were there. It was so nice to have the summit to ourselves, on labour day, before the madness began. We took pictures at the sign, explored the summit, and watched at the cog railway made its slow ascent. Bringing in the loads of holiday tourists.

It was madness as people arrived. The line for the summit sign wrapped around the Tip Top hut, the crowds surging around everything. It felt like a Disney park. Everything was expensive and overwhelming. I just wanted to get off the hill and move on.

As we hiked on to the next half of the Presidentials we bumped into so many day hikers. Some prepared, others not so much. As a thru hiker you would think I would be part of the more prepared party, but I was carrying a gallon freezer bag of oatmeal and some snacks as I pushed to town. Then I started making little mistakes in the Presidentials. I didn’t drink enough water or electrolytes, and then I didn’t eat enough food… on the hottest day Mt. Washington has ever seen. Oh… and according to the map, there is no water until you get to Madison Hut… So, there’s that.

The previous bad choices led my entire legs cramping and seizing up coming off of Mt. Madison, which many agree is one of the hardest sections of the presidentials. While Mt. Madison signifies the end of the presidentials and is something to look forward too, it is 3 miles straight up a pile of rocks and then straight down… like straight down to hell. My legs decided to seize up .3 miles from the campsite, where from my crying spot, I could hear the water running for the campsite. It was long, hard, and the sun scrambled my brains.

But I made it to camp, died in my tent, and we were going to go to town tomorrow. There was something to look forward too! I would get real food and a shower. Perhaps of I was a really tough hiker, I would get booze and a fancy coffee.




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Comments 3

  • Sepp : Sep 16th

    Just love your posts. The honesty and down to earth descriptions. Almost there, I know you gonna make it. And Rafiki’s advise about slowing down is well placed, but I’m sure often times one just wants to get it over with. Good luck to you both.

  • thetentman : Sep 16th

    Your post made me cry. With laughter. Thanks and good luck.

  • Jeff : Sep 17th

    Lucky, great reading this post. We live at the base of Moosilauke and come in contact with many thru hikers. I’ve hiked Moosilauke many times from every trailhead and yes, it’s a beast. I guide people in the Whites and know how intimidating and dangerous they can be to the uninitiated. Never hiked the AT from Georgia, not my thing. But admire you guys, it’s gotta be a monumental tasks
    Safe travels


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