The Whites are Not for Fearing

As I sit here atop the wildcat mountain ski lift, I have a solid 18 miles left of the whites, and I’ve enjoyed almost every second of it.

For over 1,800 miles, I’ve heard about how the whites were gonna kick my butt, how my mileage would have to go right down, how they don’t believe in switchbacks up north. All of these statements are true.

What they don’t tell you is that you have the most amazing time. It’s the first step of your grand finale.

Peaks over Fear

Of all the fearmongering that goes on, the whites get the most hype; they deserve it- the weather is wild, the rocks are huge, and four mile takes five hours. However, the payoff is finally worth it. For months, we’ve summited peaks with no views, climbed rock slabs to come straight back down, and been rained on only for it gently drizzle all day. Now? High views, slabs that go 2,000 feet up, and thunderstorms that soak you to the bone. Shame on all those who forgot to tell us the good parts of the whites.

In all seriousness, when the monotony of thru-hiking hit an all-time high, the whites swept in and saved the day. The back breaking climbs and knee buckling descents will only serve to remind you why you love hiking. It’s not for an easy ride, or for five deli sandwiches a day, but for getting out in the wilderness and working hard to see something you can’t see anywhere else. That is unless you take the Mount Washington auto road or the Cog railway (the temptation to get down that way was real).

The logistics of the Whites also tend to scare people: where will I resupply? How do I work for stay? Where can I camp? There are people a lot wiser than I to help out on that. I stopped at a couple hostels to chat to folks to plan out my section, everyone was more than willing to help out- and I think they take great pride in helping scaredy little thru-hikers through their section. It ended up being a lot easier than I thought. Plus, I ended up eating a lot more soup and free leftovers from the AMC huts than I thought.

Brain change

The thing that helped me through the range was to try and handle a mindset switch at mile 1,800, and not make it about the miles for a while. I suggest, instead, to slow down and enjoy the new terrain outside of the green tunnel. As the rolling hills turn into high jagged peaks, so the highlights of your days elevate too. If you aren’t going for a speed record, let the miles do themselves and have a blast.

So as this class of NOBO’s approach the whites, and random strangers will stop to tell you about hoooooww hard it’s gonna be. Fret not. Chill out. Hike on. You’re gonna make it through no problem, and it’s probably gonna be the best part of the trail.

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