Wetfoot and Arry, Vol. 19, Days 40-42: Concluding the Whites
Day 40: 8.8 Miles
This morning was very relaxed. I meant to get a decently early start on the trail. But my alarm went off and the bed was too warm and cozy. So I savored the moment, knowing I’d be saying goodbye to my boyfriend later today.
We used our breakfast ticket for a delicious breakfast of an omelette and pancakes! Then I took my time packing the car, checking my pack to ensure nothing important was forgotten this time.
We arrived at the trailhead about 11:30 a.m. Finally I’m hiking south again. For someone who set out to go SOBO I’ve noticed I’ve completed a lot of NOBO hiking.
My boyfriend walked about a mile and half with us along the trail from Liberty Spring trailhead parking lot. Thankfully the trail went below I93 and not over it!
Early in our hike we passed a couple dong a flip-flop hike. The guy stopped and did a double take. “Is that Arry?” he asked. He recognized Arry from my posts on The Trek! My name is not quite as impressionable nor memorable as hers.
I started feeling very anxious. And yes, I cried again at the prospect of being on my own with just Arry again. A big part of me wanted to go back home. But a bigger part of me wanted to get to the New Hampshire border.
I’ve been doing a lot of yoga in my days off. Yoga helps a bit with the creaky knees, but it helps the most with the soul. One phrase that really impacted me was when my instructor told us to choose our own position. She said, “Pick a pose and own it, don’t think about if you had chosen a different pose, just stretch and feel that pose.” And I have been working on that throughout multiple facets of my life.
So my boyfriend turned around to head back to his real job. Arry and I walked south. I almost turned around and asked him to come back for us. I thought Arry was too tuckered out from the previous days, as she walked very slowly and kept looking back. But I think she just missed the third member of our pack and wondered what happened to him. And so we pushed on.
I felt a peace as we walked, knowing that I had chosen this decision, and also knowing that only I could decide to make the most of it.
It was an easy (especially after just doing the Wildcats) hike up to Lonesome Lake. I stopped in the Lonesome Lake hut, right next to the gorgeous lake, to fill up on water so I wouldn’t have to filter it later. The caretaker working had been working at the RMC hut we stayed at about a month or so back! What a small world.We climbed over North and South Kinsman, which had a few rock jumping sections, but comparatively it was a nice section of trail. We passed a lot of day hikers, including two women collecting data on wood tree frogs in the ponds. They’ve been collecting samples for five years at the pond on Lafayette and just conducted some research at a new pond on Kinsman to compare data. Fun fact: some tree frogs take two years to mature into frogs; they burrow into the mud as tadpoles and wait out the winter.
We also passed a couple working on the 48 4,000-footers! They just nabbed the Kinsmans and said they had 19 left! Good luck! I guess I should be counting the 4,000-footers I summit.
Arry was a slowpoke. I’m not sure if she was simply looking for the third member of our pack, or if she was bored with the easy terrain.
As soon as we started descending South Kinsman, the rocks came back and we had to jump and scramble down the gnarly trail the whole way. Arry loved that.
I ran into a NOBO tramily. They are large groups of hikers! These were unlike the NOBOs I’d previously run into. Instead of rushing to Katahdin and making me feel anxious for no reason, these hikers were relaxing and enjoying the views.
Once across Eliza Brook I felt a rush of excitement knowing we only had a mile to our campsite. It was almost 6 p.m. and I knew the sun would set soon. Arry and I rushed to the campsite, passing Rebel and an older couple.
Rebel is thru-hiking with her mom. Her mom decided to sit the White Mountains out, and will meet her after Mount Moosilauke.
The older couple is what I want to be like when my hair is gray. They are so involved in active hobbies! I picked their brains about skiing in the Whites. Turns out they have completed many sections of the AT and the Long Trail. The woman has run 48 marathons in 45 states and her goal is to do one marathon in each of the 50 states!
It is an amazing experience to meet such inspiring people on the trail. The tent feels lonely, but I feel at peace.
Day 41: 9.0 Miles
I realized this morning the location I told my boyfriend to pick me up at was not where I would at the agreed upon date. This morning I fretted about what to do and how far to hike and where to be picked up.
The bad news is, I originally intended to get to Hanover and pick up my resupply package on a Sunday. We all know the post office won’t be open. So I began planning a big push to get there a day earlier, with a backup plan to take a zero and get my package Monday. Eventually, I realized Monday is Labor Day, and the post office will be closed for a long weekend, so I really do need to get there Saturday.
Right now, my plan is to finish New Hampshire and call it a trip. I’ll be back eventually, but I’m happy and content to be a LASHer. I just don’t know when I’ll be back on trail, and my only regret is that I may regret not doing more. But Hanover is one-fifth of the trail, a milestone in itself.
I woke early, well not super early, but knowing we were aiming to walk nine miles today made it seem like it was an early start.
We had a nice walk up to Mount Wolf. I realize that I must be out of the Whites proper (officially you are done once you finish Mount Moosilauke) because climbing up rocks and boulders is becoming the exception and most of the trail is a nice dirt path. I worry Arry gets bored when there aren’t a lot of rocks.
Up on Mount Wolf we sat and sunned ourselves, and I finalized plans for my ride. We sat for a while; I simply enjoyed having my socks off and taking a break.
After an hour or so of relaxation we were once again headed in a general downwars direction toward the parking lot at Kinsman Notch. We had just hiked the Wildcats so it seemed easy. The paths were mostly rock-free, allowing me to develop a good walking rhythm.
Near the parking lot we met two guys, one with a rifle looking for a bear. They asked if I’d seen one, which I hadn’t. A group of students from Harvard had been bothered by a bear at Gordon Pond last night. I guess the bear has been known to follow hikers along this section of the trail. I shall be keeping Arry close to me and my eyes open!
At the bottom of Kinsman Notch was a parking lot for about a dozen cars and a picnic table. We sat at the picnic table for over two hours, refilling our bodies with water and plenty of snacks. After a time Arry grew restless and we moved to a grassy area where she enjoyed playing with a stick.
A family from Quebec showed up to hike. They had two little girls entranced by Arry and couldn’t seem to pet her enough. Arry loved the attention!
Not knowing exactly how rough the mile and a half up Mount Moosilauke to our campsite would take, we left the parking lot to begin our final ascent for the day.
The beginning of our climb was next to Beaver Brook. We stopped to admire many waterfalls.
This steep climb I had been building up in my head all morning was simply one giant ascent up a very rocky side of the mountain. Again, I think I am partial to the Wildcats being tougher.
This section is maintained, not by the AMC, but by the DOC, Dartmouth Outing Club. While we were climbing up every combination of rocks and rock faces, we encountered many wooden stairs built into the faces to assist with climbing. Additionally, the rocks weren’t too large that it was difficult to get into a good stepping rhythm. It was the kind of climb you just keep putting one foot onto a rock and then the next foot onto a rock and suddenly you’re at your campsite.
This is not a well-utilized campsite I think. There is a tent platform too small for my even my tent. I suspect most hikers try to do all of Mount Moosilauke in one day, whether thru-hiking or day hiking. But this allowed Arry and me to sit around for a few hours by ourselves.
We were later joined by a NOBO, whose trail name is Lucky in a language that I have forgotten.
I’ve noticed that Arry will initially lie down and sleep in our tent, but after a short time will want to get up and follow me around the campsite. Earlier in these hikes, once I set up the tent Arry didn’t leave the tent until we were hiking the next morning. I can’t tell if she is becoming more accustomed to trail life and has more energy, the bugs used to bother her but there are much less of them now, or if she simply doesn’t want to let me out of her sight.
Tomorrow we finish Mount Moosilauke, and then we will have completed the Whites. I used to be worried about the Whites; they are a part of the AT’s more challenging sections. It hasn’t been easy, but I thoroughly enjoyed them and can’t wait to come back. I plan on skiing down the Wildcats!
Day 42: 8.0 Miles
We spent the better part of today relaxing at the Hiker’s Welcome Hostel. Which, as one might guess from their name, is very welcoming to hikers.
We started this morning finishing our climb up Mount Moosilauke. I’ll be honest, after the Wildcats it seemed smooth. The first mile and a half we walked last night was probably the hardest portion. At times, we walked over a lot of smooth, dirt sections that made me question if we were even climbing a mountain at all.
The summit was gorgeous. And we had Mount Moosilauke all to ourselves. No trees blocked the summit views and we could see for miles. The wind moved the tall grass and I was just spellbound.
We took a .1 mile detour up South Moosilauke peak, just because it was another 4,000-footer. Although, I’ve recently been informed South Moosilauke doesn’t actually count because it doesn’t “rise 200 feet above any ridge connecting it to a neighbor.” Additionally, Mount Moriah, which I incorrectly thought guidebook said was only 3,976 feet tall, is 3,976 feet at the cutoff trail and Mount Moriah is one of the 4,000-footers!
South Moosilauke had a great view, although not comparable to the first.
And then we hiked down. It was a very nice trail. In certain parts there were rocks, but again rocks were the exception, not the rule.
We stopped for lunch and to air my feet out along the dirt path. Shortly after that we came a to a meadow! I saw two monarch butterflies flying by the flowers; it made me happy inside.
From the meadow our smooth flat walk turned into a roadwalk until we ducked back into the woods for a short walk to Moosilauke Highway. This part of the woods was extremely close to civilization as I could hear all sorts of vehicles and construction going on.
We crossed Oliverian Brook and took a left along the “highway” to the hostel, where our resupply package was waiting!
It is highly likely it will rain tonight, and Arry needs some love so I got us a bunk at this super-friendly hostel. The next few hours were spent showering, prepping for tomorrow, and in general talking to the thousands of NOBOs also here while Arry snoozed. I guess we are indeed in a NOBO bubble.
As I’m going to be sprinting to Hanover in two nights and three days to try to make it to the post office before it closes for the holiday, my supply box with food for four days was overkill. Why carry extra weight?
A few NOBOs happily took my extra food. In exchange they watched Arry for short periods of time so she could stay in one place as much as possible as I left to complete chores.
There is such a different mentality in these NOBOs compared to the earlier NOBOs and even SOBOs I met. This hostel is relaxing, and has allowed me to meet and socialize with some other hikers, none of them SOBOs. The atmosphere feels like the Little Red Hen in Andover. And it feels like a home away from home for the night. I know Arry appreciates the comfy mattress already.
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