Week 7 – Crawford Notch to Lonesome Lake

We have officially tackled the top 4 most difficult sections of the Appalachian Trail!  But there are MANY more challenges to come!  We still have to traverse through the remainder of the Whites before our terrain will begin to improve. Let the adventure continue!

 

Day 43 (7:50am – 5:10pm, 14.4 miles)

As we woke this morning, completely in the fog, we packed our gear and left the last bit of the Presidentials I am familiar with; the Nauman tentsite and Mitzpah Hut.  With a brief look at the maps, we determined today would be a great day to start logging some miles, since the last bit of trail is relatively flat.  So we will head for the Zealand Falls Hut to attempt another work-for-stay.

As we worked our way across the ridge today, heading for Crawford Notch, our visibility was low.  The clouds hung closely to the bare rocks we traversed. Disappointed we would get no view today, the critters remained in the pack, staying warm and dry, as we summited one peak after another. The winds howled as Mother Nature encouraged us off the ridge and out of the Presidentials.  Taking a brief break from the winds,  we were passed by another SOBO, Two Tap.  Wonder if we’ll see him again?  “Probably not,” I thought, as he sped away into the distance.

As we began to drop once more below tree line, looking back at the ridge we just came from, the clouds began to lift from the rocks and a view started to emerge, taunting us.  I was able to grasp a few quick shots before we dropped too low too see too far.

image image image

Down and down we went, scrambling over one rocky mess after another.  My boots have slowly been falling apart since week two, ripping one tread off after another, and it had been more and more challenging to keep from slipping.  As I was muttering my disapproval of the poor quality of my boots, while climbing cautiously down a steep rock slab, WOOSH!  I found myself sliding down the rock!  With a blink of the eye, I managed to flip myself into my stomach, grasping for anything I could to slow my descent down the huge rock and BAM!  I landed on the ledge standing as if nothing had happened. I glanced up at Free Bird, with only a few scratches on my knees.  Between gasps of air, laughing too hard to speak clearly, she managed to squeeze out, “Are you ok?!”

I smirked back up at her with a giggle emerging in my voice, “Yea.  God I can’t wait to get rid of these boots!”

We both enjoyed a long hard laugh, Free Bird explaining what my recent stunt looked like.  “You looked like a hockey player sliding on the ice about to hit the boards.  I don’t know how you did that!”

“Neither do I!  I kind-of wish I had that on tape!”

We carefully continued our journey down to the bottom of Crawford Notch. Once down, we would have flat terrain for several miles until we reached Zealand Falls Hut. WHOHOOOO! We haven’t had anything remotely flat in a LONG time!  We safely reached the bottom, and took a brief break at the Ethan Pond Campsite, where we heard there was a local moose.

image image

 

 

 

 

 

As we sat on the rocks, overlooking the gorgeous pond, we chatted with the caretaker, scanning our surroundings for this elusive moose.  Unfortunately, no moose surfaced, so we continued on our hike for the day.

image

Walking along the flat, rockless, rootless, (or at least comparatively rockless and rootless) terrain was like walking along a highway of blissfulness!  We raced down the trail, gaining miles and taking in our surroundings with ease as we went.  Gorgeous!  The mountains flew by us on either side as we waltzed along a rocky ledge.

image image

After a long day, we finally arrived at the Zealand Falls Hut.  We dropped pack and entered the building, approaching the croo to ask for a work-for-stay.  They looked at us with sympathy and informed us they were full for the night and could take no more work-for-stays, but there were stealth sites near by.  They provided us with some extra cookies they had in a small tupperware container and off we went to find a stealth site.  Down the steep rocky stairs we climbed, back from where we came, until we located a small stealth site off trail.  Oh well, no big deal.  The weather was supposed to be good for the night.  So we set up camp, cooked ourselves some dinner, hung our bear bags, and retired for the evening.

image

Zealand Falls Hut

image

Zealand Falls Hut

 

The NOBOs we crossed today (the ones I got trailnames for at least)

  • Avalon
  • Porter
  • Sherpa

 

Day 44 (8:10am – 4:10pm, 9.8 miles)

We packed or gear and started back on our adventures this morning.  The skies were clear and it looks like we’ll have a sunny day today.  Off we go!

We once again we climbed the steep, rocky stairs up to the Zealand Falls Hut to drop off the Tupperware they gave us the previous day.  We refilled our water, delivered the Tupperware and began our ascent up the trail, taking some pictures of the falls along the way.

image

Looking up Zealand Falls.

image

Looking over the edge of Zealand Falls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first mountain peak we will summit today will be Zealand Mountain.  With the sun bright and shinning, the critters decided to come out for this peak, even though there was no view.

image

The next few mountains we summited today were Guyot Mountain followed by South Twin Mountain.

image

View from the top of mount Guyot. Couldn’t help but think of Lord of the Rings!

image

Me and my critters looking at Mount Washington emerging from the clouds from the top of South Twin Mountain.

image

Free Bird taking a picture of Mount Washington in the distance.

Along our descent from South Twin Mountain, heading towards Galehead Hut, a new problem arose.  As you recall, my boot’s treads started to fall off after just a few weeks on the trail! I didn’t think much of it at first, but then I saw more treads falling off! Finally, after another week, I called LL Bean from the side of a mountain while in Maine, to try to get a new pair, since this pair was clearly dying. They shipped a new pair to my Uncle’s house in New Hampshire, where we would be in just one more day, so, relieaved, I hiked on for a few more weeks to this point.  Today, as I descended the steep boulders down from South Twin Mountain, the boots literally started to fall apart! With each step I took the threading was unstitching itself and my foot was almost visible on the side of the boot!

image

Finally, I had no other choice but to stop mid trail and repair my boots! I dropped pack, dug out my sewing kit, and started to sew my boot back together. It worked but I have NO IDEA how long that will last for! It only needs to last one more day! But it will be one heck of a day as we ascend and descend Franconia Ridge!

After my quick repair,  I carefully continued on my way towards Galehead Hut, wondering which step would cause my boots to burst open at the seems.  I made it safely down the mountain, muttering under my breath at my annoyance with these boots, took a snack break, then we pushed on towards our destination for the night.  Just one more day boots!  One more day!

image

Galehead Hut

image

Galehead Hut

 

As we made the steep climb up to our destination for tonight, the Garfield Campsite, the caretaker greeted us and asked if Free Bird and I would be willing to share a tent due to the HIGH volume of people expected to stay that evening.  No problem!  As we set up the tent, the poor caretaker ran around, checking in and chatting with the groups of people piling into the site.  Two college groups and another large group later, plus all the small pairs of hikers, the campsite was FULL!  But of course!  It’s the start of Labor Day weekend! The college orientation groups are out and the weekend hikers are enjoying the nice views with great weather!  We will be joined by MANY people the next few days!

image

Free Bird ascending towards the Garfield Campsite.

image

A nice commemorative plaque at the campsite.

The NOBOs we crossed today (the ones I got trailnames for at least)

  • Brother Blood

 

Day 45 (8:10am – 4pm, 11.5 miles)

I woke this morning, feeling older.  Why?  Not just because my body is taking an absolute BEATING out here, but also, because it’s my birthday!  To celebrate, we will be hiking up and up and up, as we ascend, cross, then finally descend Franconia Ridge!

Along we went on our journey, playing hopscotch with several groups along the way.  Stopping to take a brief snack break, Free Bird happily pulled a small gift out of her pack and handed it to me for my birthday!  It was a small package of graham crackers shaped like characters from the recent movie, Finding Dory! HAHA!  Fantastic!  I enjoyed every last bite, then went to place my trash in my pack when she said, “I can take your trash too!”

Wow!  A double birthday gift!  The snack and taking my garbage!  This day keeps getting better!  Plus later today I will officially have a new pair of boots!  And just in time too!

We continued on and began our long descent up first Garfield Mountain, then Lafayette Mountain and finally ending with Lincoln Mountain.  Little did we know, we would be traveling up at least 8 false peaks before we finally summited the peak!

image

The critters enjoy the view from the top of Garfield Mountain.

Huffing and puffing, we approached what we thought was the beginning of the above tree line portion of the ascent to the top of Lafayette Mountain.  On we trudged, passing a few weekend hikers as we went, until we reached the top of false peak number one!  Oh look, there’s more!  So on we climbed again.  Surely this must be the top!  NOPE!  One more to go! Ok.  Huff and puff we climbed some more. Yes!  This is the top!  But as we scanned to the next mountain, Lincoln, we noticed there were SEVERAL false peaks between us and the top of Lincoln.  Well, at least we won’t be surprised!

image

So false peak after false peak, we summited each, until finally, we arrived at the top of Lincoln Mountain.  As we approached the top, we ran into a couple we had seen back on the Carters (Alex and Megan), who we had nicknamed the Celtic couple. We were so surprised to see them, since they were only hiking a small area, so we happily chatted with them for a while before they continued on their way, heading north this time.

As we enjoyed a quick snack at the top of Mt Lincoln, a ridge runner approached us named John, and we chatted with him for a while. He informed us there were close to 800 people on the ridge today! I believe it! This mountain was littered with groves of people out for a day or weekend hike. I called my Uncle from the top and we determined a pick up time. But what about the location!? The closest spot was where Route 3 and 93 met. Ok it’s a plan!  After a brief picture with the critters, off we went again, traveling across the ridge on a beautiful sunny day!

image

The critters enjoying the view on the top of Lincoln Mountain.

As we continued our traverse along the ridge, we were forced to stop and wait for the horde of people heading north. Mind you 98% of these people were not thru-hikers, but weekend or day hikers, up to enjoy the ridge on Labor Day weekend.  It seemed as though a never ending line of people would walk towards us on the trail.  When a small beak in the crowd appeared, we would quickly hop in and hustle until we had to stop and wait for the next burst of people to pass.  During one of our waiting periods, I turned and saw a gorgeous view of a rocky outcropping.

image

As the clock ticked, we began to question if we would make it down to meet my Uncle in time.  So we raced the clock, picking up our pace when we could, and ran down the mountain. We made it down by 4, after following a few helpful day hikers down a separate trail that led to the road.  Relieved we had finally made it down, and with time to spare, we waited by the side of the road.  Suddenly, we realized we were on Route 3!  Not where 3 and 93 intersected! Shoot! So we hitched to that intersection and waited. And waited. And waited. With no way to reach my Uncle, since I didn’t have his cell number or my Aunt’s cell number, I could only hope we would spot his car.  All I knew was what he looked like, and that he would be driving a black vehicle. By 5pm, I was scanning every black car heading both north and south on Route 93. Suddenly, a silver vehicle pulled up. Thinking this vehicle was stopping to give us a lift, I walked up to the vehicle, ready to explain we were waiting for someone to pick us up.  As I approached the vehicle, it was my uncle!

“Black car!?” I exclaimed laughing and smiling.

After joking and laughing, he quickly gave me a hug (I was shocked because I was quite smelly!) and we threw our gear in the back, and off we went.

After arriving at their home, one of the first things we did was collect the many packages that had accumulated for our resupply. I was VERY eager to open the box from LL Bean, so I grabbed my knife and quickly popped it open to see my knew boots!  Hang on a minute!  That doesn’t look right!  These aren’t the right boots!  SHOOT!  Luckily, there are some LL Bean outfitters close by.  After chatting with my Aunt and Uncle about my little dilemma, they suggested I call the stores tomorrow to see if they have the boots I needed, then they would drive us wherever we needed to retrieve them. Fantastic!

That night, we ate some pizza and chatted with my Aunt and Uncle, laughing and sharing stories, while their wonderful dogs barked to great us, and get attention as well. We snuggled into bed that night, on their screened in porch.  It was wonderful!  The windows were left open so we could hear Mother Nature outside.  The frogs, crickets, soft wind, and other sounds soothed us to sleep; the sounds we have come to know as home as of late.  The soft light from the small tiki lanterns that adorned the tops of the windows were dimmed, as we drifted off.  It was perfect! What a great bday!

The NOBOs we crossed today (the ones I got trailnames for at least)

  • Falcon

 

Day 46 (time – whatever, 0 miles)

Today, we get to spend some time with my Aunt Anne and Uncle Paul, as well as Jazie and Ollie, their two Shih Tzus.  After breakfast, I made the calls to the two closest LL Bean stores and tracked down a pair of my boots.  They were able to hold them for me and were willing to refund me for the incorrect pair of boots that were sent to me as well as the broken down pair that I threw off my feet as soon as I entered my Aunt and Uncle’s home! WOW!

After our hour drive to the LL Bean outfitter, I walked up to the counter, not sure what to expect from them.  The old pair of boots I held in my hands looked as though I had been wearing them for an entire year!  The treads were almost flat and peeling off, the stitching had broken lose on both shoes, one much worse than the other, and the toes were starting to separate.

The woman at the counter happily greeted me.  I gave her my name, informing her there should be a pair of boots held aside for me and I had a few returns to make. Without any questions, not only did she refund me for the incorrect pair of boots, but she provided me with the EXACT pair that I needed, AND she refunded me for the decrepit, disintegrating, smelly, dirty pair that had only lasted me a little over one month!  I was truly amazed!  I had heard that LL Bean had great policies for the gear they sold, but I was so used to working with companies that don’t back their products, that I had expected the same treatment here.  What a pleasant experience with them!  I will make sure to buy everything I can from LL Bean in the future (no I am not endorsed by them) and will highly recommend them to anyone!  I cannot say enough good things about them!  Ok, I’m off my soap box now!

image

Old decrepit pair.

image

NEW PAIR!

 

image

Old decrepit pair.

image

NEW PAIR!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After I got my new boots, cradling them to my chest like I was holding a box of precious jewels, we carefully placed them in my Aunt’s car and stopped for lunch.  Then we went home, helped make dinner that evening, then watched a great movie, Phenomenon, with my Aunt and Uncle.  That’s all to report for today!

 

Day 47 (time – who knows, 0 miles)

Today we are on or own.  My Aunt and Uncle had to return to work, so they left us a car and we spent most of the day watching Netflix, running errands, and I worked on updating you all with stories of our adventures!  Oh, and we got to spend some time resting our aching bodies in the hot tub!  AMAZING!

As Anne was coming home from work that night, we had already begun to get dinner started, so we sat down for a nice meal together, then watched Jim Gaffigan comedy skits on TV and had some HARD laughs!  Jazie got some more snuggle time as well.  One more day with my aunt and uncle then we’re back on the trail!

 

Day 48 (time – no idea, 0 miles)

Today is our last full day with my aunt and uncle.  Originally we planned on heading out today, by as luck would have it, my uncle had some things he had to take care of and couldn’t drop us off today. WHOOOHOOO! We get to spend another zero with my Aunt and Uncle (I love spending time with them) and another day in the hot tub! My aching knees needed the extra day anyways!  Getting one more day with Jazie, Aunt Anne, and Uncle Paul was wonderful! I really don’t get to see them often enough and they are such wonderful people. So we will spend one more day with them and be off again tomorrow!

image

Jazie snuggling with Free Bird this morning.

image

Jazie

Day 49 (1-4:30pm, 4 miles)

Today, we bid my Aunt and Uncle farewell, as well as their dogs, Ollie and Jazie.  We packed our gear and took one last picture before my Uncle dropped us back off at the trail head.  It was VERY hard to say goodbye to them!  But the mountains are calling and we must go!

image

Since we started so late today, we are only planning on traveling a short distance. The weather is bleak and there may be storms tonight.  So tonight, we try for our last work-for-stay at Lonesome Lake Hut, the last hut we will cross.

As we hugged my Uncle one last time, with my brand new boots tied tightly on my feet, my missile strapped to my back, we began our journey once again.  Our spirits light, off we went.  But today will hold several challenges for me!

Free bird almost died laughing today. Right off the bat, I went to dunk my bandana in the water and CLUNK, my foot splashed into the water, shin deep! Well, the new boots are water proof, but not when the water comes in from above the boot. As I walked back up to the trail, Free Bird was convulsing with laughter, shaking uncontrollably. Haha ok.  We joked and laughed for a little while, then returned to focus on the trail.

Through the rest of the day, my pack was WAY to heavy, I had to strip down to my sports bra and spandex due to almost overheating, the mosquitos were relentless, and I had just about had it!  Thank god we only did 4 miles today! At least we had some good laughs with my sarcastic remarks of my glorious day.

Once we arrived at the hut, Free Bird secured our work-for-stay, and we sat and chatted with an awesome NOBO named Pippin.  We did our 2 hours of work and ate the leftovers of an amazing dinner with the croo, chatting about hiking, carnivorous plants, and various other interesting topics.  Tonight, we sleep in the hut, on the floors, for the last time.  Soon we complete the whites!

image

Some awesome artwork in the Lonesome Lake Hut.

image

A plaque on the way to Lonesome Lake Hut.

The NOBOs we crossed today (the ones I got trailnames for at least)

  • Pippin

 

We completed the Presidentials, completed the huts, and got to spend some well deserved, and much needed, time with my wonderful Aunt Anne and Uncle Paul.  Soon, we will be done with the whites!  We are told the terrain will improve and we will begin to be able to increase our miles!  We cannot wait to get rolling!  I hope you enjoyed this week’s stories, and as always,

Happy Hiking!

image

If you are interested in assisting in my dream, click here to help!

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 3

  • Avatar
    Diamond : Sep 24th

    Dori!

    Happy late birthday! I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now and am always entertained and informed by what you have to say.

    Is it often hot during the day and cold at night for y’all?

    Happy Trails!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Jamie Marsden : Sep 26th

      Diamond,

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you are enjoying reading my adventure! Right now, the temperatures have actually dropped over all. We had a few nights that dropped close to freezing and we have started to wear more layers and use our warmer gear. I’ll be writing more about that soon to come!

      I hope you continue to enjoy reading!

      Happy Hiking!
      Jamie

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Aron Brown : Oct 3rd

    Dori: We miss you already. It has been only a few weeks since we saw you last at our place in Lincoln.
    Have a great trip. Hope you are now out of Vermont.
    Uncle A

    Reply

What Do You Think?