Week 8 – Lonesome Lake to Hanover

We’re getting closer to completing one more state!  Before we know it, we’ll be in Vermont! But before then, we’ll complete the Whites and finally hit some nicer terrain.  Ready to increase our miles and speed up this adventure!


Day 50 (7:35am – 1:05pm, 5.8 miles)

With our knees still bothering us,  we are only planning on increasing our miles slightly today.  As we packed our gear and got ready to leave the last hut we would encounter on this trip, a flip flopper, Bruiser, watched us, eager to determine which way the trail continue on.  The guests staying at Lonesome Lake Hut, watched us go on our way, some shouting out the windows “Good luck” while they ate their breakfast that day.  As we walked along the boardwalk trail, placing one pole infront of the other as I went, suddenly I was jerked backwards with a quick release!  I turned to find the bottom section of my trekking pole sticking out between two boards in the walkway!  I had almost lost the bottom of my pole, right off the bat.  That’s a good way to start the day!

Today we climbed up and down the Kinsman mountains.  We didn’t have much of a view, due to the fog surrounding us.  But I was able to get one shot as the clouds began to disperse.


We continued on, up one mountain, then down the next.  As we crept closer to the Eliza Brook campsite, our destination for the night, we climbed down and down the steep descent off the Kinsman mountains, our knees throbbing more and more with each giant step down.  Almost to the bottom, we arrived at a nice, clear, frigid pool at the bottom of a waterfall.

“That’s it! I’m going in to ice my knees down!”  I shouted back to Free Bird as I dropped pack and headed for the pool.

Free Bird followed suit and we both waded into the freezing water until the water level was just above our knees.  We stood in the middle of the pool, chatting and splashing the cold water into our faces, washing the days salt from our bodies.  After a short while, though the ice cold water felt amazing on my knees, my feet and toes began to go knumb, telling me it was time to get out.  Reluctantly, like a child told to get out of the pool by their mother, I waded out of the pool and plopped down by the side to put my socks and shoes back on.  We threw our packs on our backs and continued on our way, our knees slightly better but still groaning under the weight of every step.

After a short while, we reached the sign that told us the shelter was near.  Only a quarter mile to go!  As we scurried down the trail, WOOSH!  I stepped on a wet log and my feet slide out from underneath me.  Down I went!  As I slowly attempted to catch myself, I almost succeeded, but my 30 ton pack had a different plan.  I struggled and fought to resist my pack throwing me to the ground, as I inched towards the ground, finally coming down with a thunk.

“Well, I almost saved that one.” I said as I slowly struggled to my feet.  I could hear Free Bird dying with laughter somewhere behind me.  At least I can provide her with all the entertainment she will ever need!

A few scratches and a bruised pride later, we arrived at our campsite. We set up camp and took a brief nap before we began to end our day with our nightly routine of cooking, cleaning, and passing out for the evening.  We chatted during dinner with a wonderful woman named Dean, who was a traveling PT, and her husband.  She was out doing a few days of a test hike because she was planning on doing her thru-hike next year!  How exciting!  We chatted about gear, food, and the trail, as her poodle, Rico, came over and greated us, getting lots of free scratches and attention from Free Bird and I.

Since we left Franconia Notch, we have made a stupid mistake and are carrying WAY too much weight with us for this spell. Oh well. Lesson learned. We will make sure to cary no more than 6 days worth of food in the future!

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

  • Brooklyn
  • Sunset
  • Bengal


Day 51 (7:45am – 2:45pm, 9 miles)

Fall has arrived!  As we head down the trail today, while the leaves on the trees still seem to hold their different shades of green, the leaves on the ground show their true colors!  The trees will soon change too!


Today we hike up the last mountain that is officially part of the Whites; Moosilauke Mountain!  We are told it is a steep ascent, but it can’t be as difficult as southern Maine, can it?

At the base, this warning sign hinted to the hike that was to come.


On we went, prepared for a climb.  And the climb did not disappoint!  While this trail was certainly no worse than southern Maine, it was no walk in the park either.


Going up . . .


. . . and up . . .


. . . for a gorgeous view!

We climbed up and up giant stone steps, with an occasional section of wooden steps hammered firmly into rock, and some rebar placed here and there to help with the climb.  The trail followed along side gorgeous waterfalls that cascaded down the mountain as we climbed higher and higher.


Climbed up and over this using the rebar at the top to help.


More wooden stairs climbing up.


The trail we just scrambled up.


An example of one of the many beautiful falls we saw as we climbed.

What an amazing climb this was!  Not nearly as bad as everyone had made it out to be.  Just as we neared the shelter, the rain began.  We hurried to our destination, the Bever Brook lean-to, and nestled into the lean-to with two other couples, ready for the storm to hit.  For tonight, we’ll remain dry.

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

  • Alpiner
  • Accident Waiting to Happen


Day 52 (9:57am – 2:40pm, 8.3 miles)

Today we officially leave the Whites!  After we descend Moosilauke Mountain, we will be out of the Whites!

We waited, this morning, in the lean-to for a nasty thunderstorm to pass.  Throughout the night, the thunderstorm raged. With the little cell reception I had, I was able to track the storm this morning and determine it should pass by 10am.  So we waited and waited.  While waiting, a SOBO from London, Ginger Tiger, and a flipflopper, Elizabeth, joined us.


After the storm passed, Free Bird and I packed our gear and off we went! No rain for us the rest of the day! When we reached the top of Moosilauke Mountain, the winds whipped so strongly that we were forced to walk sideways. We kept our pace as fast and safe as we possibly could as we battled the winds and descended below tree line. No photo for the critters at the top today, for fear of being blown off the side of the mountain!

Earlier that day, Elizabeth had given us the name of a hostel at the bottom of Moosilauke Mountain.  That was where she was heading today.  What a great idea!  So we decided that would be a better option for us tonight.

We had heard that the terrain would improve after we left the Whites.  They weren’t kidding!  Instantly, the ground became softer, less rocky, and less rooty.  We started to cross fields instead of mountains as well!  No wonder the NOBOs were shocked by the terrain when they hit the Whites!  I would be too if I was used to this kind of terrain!


Only half a mile from our destination, we had to ford a river to get to the road that would take us to the hostel, Hikers Welcome.  Didn’t expect to have to ford again!  We walked up and down the river, but the safest place we could cross was still shin deep.  So we removed our boots and socks, tucked everything away nicely then clipped them to our packs, put on our Crocs and carefully, step by slow step, traversed across the quick moving river.  After making it safely on the other side, we only had a 0.25 mile trek to get to Hikers Welcome.


As we entered the building, Elizabeth greated us, and told us how to check in.  We learned this hostel was run on the honors system; all that was needed was to fill out some paperwork, and hand it to the caretaker before you left.  You kept track of any food/drink you had, documented if you showered and washed clothes, and totaled it all up, then handed the caretaker the paper and money.  That’s it!  Easy as can be!  After checking in, we found a place to set up our tents for the night.  We gathered our laundry and took showers as we waited our turn to throw our laundry in to clean.

Elizabeth was bustling around, taking sub orders from the other hikers, as she organized a trip the local deli for dinner!  How sweet and what a wonderful idea!  Perfect!  I quickly made my decision, provided my order and handed her money to cover the cost.  That would make a fantastic dinner for the night and a wonderful lunch the following day!

For the remainder of the evening, I drank soda, worked on updating my photos and blog, and watched a variety of movies with the other hikers at the hostel.  Tomorrow we start back up the trail, heading for Hanover!

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

  • Tune-up
  • Caveman
  • Pack Mule


Day 53 (8am – 5:30pm, 15.4 miles)

Today, we officially cross the 400 mile mark!  Whooohoooo!  With the terrain drastically better than what we’re used to, we’ve been able to increase our daily miles!  Maybe we will finish this adventure before March next year!  Haha!

As we walked briskly through the woods, along relatively flat terrain, we encountered two sisters, Julie and Jeanie, who were walking their two friendly dogs.  We chatted with them for a bit, then continued on our way.


Today we hike up Mount Cube.  Just before we began our long journey up Mount Cube, we met two young boys, standing by their trailer, handing out trail majic!  The food they had brought was slim pickings by the time we got there, but full from or lunch only moments before, we eagerly accepted fresh water.  We chatted with with them for a while as well, learning their trail names, Trash Panda and Mountain Dude, and learned that they had started their adventure in Florida!  That’s right, Florida!

So there is a trail, the East Coast Greenway trail, that runs from Florida to Maine, and the Appalachian Trail is a large section of it.  These boys, along with their mother, had done roughly 1,000 miles of that trail.  They told us they had taken a detour up north and had started sections of the trail in Maine, but had somehow now made it to New Hampshire and were now off trail, handing out trail majic. WOW!  It was quite amazing chatting with the two boys.  We thanked them for the water and wished them luck in whatever adventures they have to come, and started our long hike up Mount Cube.  Little did we know, that trail majic would come in clutch for us, as the water sources ahead were dry!

Along the way, we crossed many people, one that creeped us out tremendously!  But don’t worry, we lost him and never heard from him again!  Up we walked.  I say “walked” instead of “climbed” here because the terrain was soft and not as rocky, more like walking up a hill FOREVER. But it was still VERY steep!  Eventually, we hit a rocky section, and began climbing up steep, uneven, rocky steps!  Phew!  This is A LOT more difficult than I imagined!

Finally, after several breaks along our forever climb, we reached the summit!  Hallelujah!  But we still have several more miles to go for the day!  So a quick photo opp later,  we pressed on.


The critters enjoying a view on top of Mount Cube.

As we began our traverse down,  we caught up with Elizabeth!  We chatted with her as we neared our resting place for the night, Hexacuba Shelter.


Really cool six sided shelter. From left to right, Smokey, Momo, Free Bird, and Elizabeth.

She was planning on stealthing somewhere further down the trail, but she decided to join us for the night.  As we got to our destination, we met two other SOBOs, Momo and Smokey!  We chatted with them, an excellent couple we hoped to be hiking with in the future, set up our tents, and called it a night.  Sleep will come easy tonight!


Day 54 (8:11am – 3:50pm, 12.5 miles)

The terrain continues to improve and the scenery is changing!  We have a beautiful day ahead of us today, so we better get going.

We broke camp and started on our way, playing in the woods for most of today.  The one mountain we will summit later is Smarts Mountain.  But it should be fine.  It’s only a 1,500 foot gain in roughly 4 miles.  Nice and gradual!

Up we walked, for miles and miles, occasionally getting a glimps above the green tunnel.


Free Bird taking in one of the few views we have had all day!

We caught up with Elizabeth again and hiked with her for a little while.  Momo and Smokey played hopscotch with us all day.  But eventually we lost everyone and we were back to hiking solo (well a solo pair at least).


The trail we just came down.







On and on we went.  The views were getting more and more spectacular along the way!  We were getting closer to the summit!

image image






Huffing and puffing from the long climb, I could faintly see blue through the trees.  The top has to be close!  Free Bird had disappeared up ahead of me, so I plugged on.  Finally, the fire town emerged!  We had reached the top!  We both dropped pack and took a short breather before we climbed to the very top of the fire tower.  The views were just stunning!


After taking in the views and having a quick lunch, we continued on our way, heading for the Trapper John Shelter.  We have been running into fewer and fewer northbounders recently.  But the number of southbounders we are meeting is increasing.  At the base of Smarts Mountain, we met King Arther.  We did not hike with her long, as she stayed behind for lunch.  Maybe we’ll see her again soon.

As we started our last climb for the day, we reached a few mile markers.  While they are a few years old, and the mileage has changed, it is close enough.  And they didn’t forget the southbounders either!


Roughly the miles we have left!


Roughly the miles we have gone!







Shortly after the mile markers, we reached the cutoff to our resting place for the evening. With many campsites to choose from, we found our spots and got set for the night.  I explored the campsite a little, finding this old fireplace close to the shelter!


Tonight, we will be rejoined by Ginger Tiger as well as Honey Bee and Crazy Horse, a couple we had not seen in a few weeks!  Tomorrow, we go to Hanover, NH!


Day 55 (7:05am – 4pm, 17.8 miles)

We wanted to get an early start today, trying to beat out a storm, so we rose before the sun did, packing our gear in the dark as the sun, sleepily, started to rise.  We only have one mountain to summit today, then it’s relatively flat from there.  The storm is supposed to hit between 2-3, so let’s roll!

The race was on!  We ran into everyone again, playing hop scotch through the day; Momo, Smokey, Elizabeth, even Ginger Tiger, Honey Bee, and Crazy Horse joined in for the fun!  Everyone was trying to beat the storm.  Everyone was heading for town today.  We all had a LONG day ahead of us!

The first summit of Moose Mountain had no view, but the second peak did.  So the critters came out of their slumber for a quick picture.


As we hiked on, the sound of acorns dropping around us was deafening, like bombs during an air raid.  We raced towards the Velvet Rocks Shelter as the woods started to grow darker; a sign the storm was about to hit.  Any minute now, we’ll see the sign for the shelter!  It started to sprinkle.

“I found the sign!” I hollered to Free Bird.  “0.4 miles to cover!”

It was a good thing too because the rain was coming down stronger!  Free Bird took the lead as we started climbing up again.  Kaboom!  Thunder struck close by.  We picked up our pace, almost at a full run, following one blaze after another until we reached a fork in the trail.  Without stopping we took a quick right.

‘But wait!’  I thought to myself.  ‘Didn’t that sign say the road was this way?  Not the shelter?’  I slowed my pace slightly, trying to remember what I just saw.  Perhaps I was wrong.  I scanned our surroundings, looking for a sign of the shelter.

“Free Bird.  Didn’t that sign back there say this trail took us to the road?  Not the shelter?”

“No, the road was the other way.  I’m following the blue blazes to the shelter.”

Huh.  This still doesn’t feel right to me.  So I pulled out my map and compass as we trudged on through the train.  We’re heading the right direction. But we should have seen something by now!

Thunder still rumbled around us. “I don’t think this is right.”

“But it’s a blue blaze.”  Free Bird questioned.

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean shelter.  That means an alternate trail.”  I took the lead and sure enough, there was the road ahead of us!  Ugh!  We did take a detour!  This was the way to the road, not the shelter!  I quickly spun around and started to hike back up the hill we just came down. 0.5 miles out of our way in the rain!  Oh well!

We returned to the fork in the trail, where we had gone wrong.  Sure enough, the sign had an up arrow with the name of the road, indicating the trail we took was going to take us to the road.  The rain was light now, and we were already wet, so I decided to return to the AT and continue on.  The storm was over, and I was over trying to find this shelter!

We walked on through the woods, our spirits a little lower than before, tired and wet, searching for somewhere to sit for a light snack.  After a while, we still hadn’t found anywhere to sit, and behold, another sign for the Velvet Rocks Shelter appeared, this time indicating only 0.1 miles off trail.  That we can do!  So we decided to try to find the shelter again.  Up we climbed again, attacking the shelter from the other side this time.  We climbed and climbed!  This is NOT 0.1 miles!  A little bit more, we finally found the shelter!  Well, it was more of a shed.  Small, run down, and barely providing coverage from the storm, down we sat, joining Honey Bee, Crazy Horse, and Ginger Tiger for a snack.  We all shared our adventures of trying to find this shelter, each one of us frustrated with our trip.  This was NOT WORTH IT!

We all moved on, with only two miles to go until we reached town. The terrain was flat, and the sun was coming up.  We leat the whole detour behind us and our spirits lifted once more.


Free Bird walking down the last bit of trail before we hit town.

Once in town, we got subs and sweets and caught a few buses to our hotel. Showered and fed, in nice, cozy, dry, warm beds, we will sleep well this night!


Day 56 (time – all day, miles – no idea)

Today, we spend some time hanging out in Hanover.  There is free food for hikers we can collect, and Gray and Emily are in town!  They’ll be picking us up for lunch!

Right on time, they pulled up in their rental car and off we went to town.  We had a great lunch while catching up, then went for coffee and a free apple cider donut!  Delicious!  Weebles texted me while drinking my coffee.  She was in town as well!  So we ran into her and learned of a plaque somewhere in down dedicated to the Appalachian Trail.


With all of our busy work taken care of, and no real plans for the day, Gray and Emily decided to take us on an adventure!  Emily has a passport of all the national historic sites in the country.  To take a break from the trail, they rent a car and travel to one of those sites, check it out, then get their passport stamped and hit the trail again.  Today, they had planned to go to one of those sites, so they asked if we wanted to join.  Sounds great!  Off we headed to the Saint Gaudens National Historic Site.

When we arrived, we watched a short video on the site.  This was the home of the artist Saint Gaudens.  He is a famous sculptor that is responsible for some of the historic statues around the US (including the ones below).

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Detail of the sculpture above. Amazing relief!


The artist’s home!


The artist’s gorgeous studio!


Beautiful flowers were all over the property!


How perfect!  Taking this little side adventure was the perfect break for me to allow my creative juices to flow.  I took a TON of pictures, much more than you see here, and felt inspired for the day.

Gray and Emily brought us back to the hotel, later that evening, and ended up getting a room right next to us.  We will bid them farewell once again tomorrow.  We leave for my Uncle Aron’s ski house tomorrow for the weekend, then we will hit the trail again.  We’ll have to catch Emily and Gray and all our other trail friends as we go!


We have safely arrived in Hanover, NH and will soon be in Vermont!  Before we know it, we’ll be passing through the states quicker and quicker, at least until we reach Pennsylvania!  We’re trying to pick up the pace so we can complete our journey before February, but we shall see!  See you on the trail!

Happy Hiking!


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