The Ups and Downs of New Hampshire
I entered New Hampshire ready for a zero-day. Me and the tramily got an Airbnb near Hanover and we spent the day relaxing and cooking lots of yummy food. The next day we got back to the trail, ready to tackle the hardest state of the Appalachian Trail.
The Beginning of the End
I spent the first day in New Hampshire hiking in a thunderstorm by myself. I enjoyed the intensity of the storm and when I got to the shelter soaking wet and met back up with everyone, I was in high spirits. After three days in NH, I reached my first 4,000 footer since Virginia; Mount Moosilauke. We decided to slackpack it (hike without backpacks) and do it SOBO.
In the morning, we got dropped off by the hostel at the trailhead and started up the mountain. It was drizzling out and the terrain was steep and slippery. Even though it was hard hiking, being in such a positive group made the challenge fun. We reached the top, and although there were no views, the sense of accomplishment felt amazing. After snapping a few quick pictures, we started down, nervous about getting too cold. We ran the beginning, trying to warm back up. After five miles, we got to the road and walked back to the hostel.
It felt amazing to conquer a mountain on my thru-hike that I have grown up hiking. Back at the hostel, I showered, got dry clothes on, and hung out with other thru-hikers for the rest of the day.
The next day, a friend from home named Gant came and picked me and my tramily up from the hostel and slack-packed us over the Kinsmans; two more four thousand footers. It was once again rainy and the rocks were slick. The hiking was technical which was frustrating for me since my legs are so short. I had a lot of trouble descending down north Kinsman since there were extremely steep sections with lots of rebar and ladders. After some tears, I made it to Lonesome Lake hut where I took a quick break to eat. I was exhausted. With two miles to go until the parking lot, it started pouring. We were all quickly soaking wet and shivering.
We finally got back to the parking lot after 16 miles and 10 hours of hiking. Gant had brought us pizza and we were all so grateful for warm food as we ate it in the rain. After getting our gear back, we said bye to Gant and started to scout out places to stealth camp for the night. At this point, we were all freezing and grumpy. Wanting to get out of the rain and warm quickly, we settled on sleeping under a bridge near the highway. Although it was not ideal, it felt good to have a “roof” over our heads.
The next day, Nav and I set off early with Franconia ridge ahead of us. Lindsey, Lady Bird, Morning Dove, and Landfill decided to go into town. Bucca was camped two miles up the trail. Nav and I caught up to Bucca at his campsite. I went to blue blaze up Mount Liberty while the two of them continued on the AT. The ridgeline was stunning with 360 views and it was fun seeing so many day hikers.
I headed down from Mount Lafayette, slowly growing weary of the time. I still had 8 miles to hike and it was 2 pm. With two more four thousand footers in my way, I started to get worried about night hiking. I tried to push the thought away but after hiking two miles down a wrong trail, my nerves got the best of me. I started crying, unsure what to do. There was a thunderstorm forecast for the next morning so I really wanted to get off the ridgeline before then. I pushed on, going down a part of the trail that had turned into a waterfall. I was terrified of falling but determined to keep hiking.
With half a mile to Galehead hut, I heard Nav call out my name. I saw his grin as I rounded a corner and ran over to give him the biggest hug. He was hiking SOBO to come to find me. We hiked back to Galehead hut where we met back up with Bucca. We made a quick dinner on the porch and kept hiking. At sunset, the three of us summited Twin mountain, and the clouds parted for a short while to show off the amazing views. We whipped out our headlamps and started to night hike. I was so grateful to be with other people. It was foggy out and our headlamp beamed off of the water droplets but our spirits were once again high as we talked about our favorite Netflix shows.
At 10 pm we started to look around for a stealth spot. We finally found a spot where we could barely squeeze three tents in. Although we were all exhausted, we laughed and talked as we set up camp in the dark. After shoveling gummy bears dipped in peanut butter into my hungry mouth, I finally fell asleep at midnight with my alarm set for 5 am.
We were able to get off the ridgeline and down to the highway before the thunderstorms started, where my parents picked the three of us up. We reunited with Lady Bird and Lindsey at the hotel and decided to zero the next day.
We set off after a zero-day, ready to take on the presidential range and finally finish New Hampshire. I had already hiked the Presidentials a few years before and I was excited to see the amazing views once again. A friend from home met up with me and we hiked to a campsite next to Mizpah hut as rain pummeled us and made the steep rock scrambles slippery once again. We met up with Lady Bird and Lindsey and played card games in the hut all afternoon. Bucca and Nav decided to continue on through the rain to Madison hut.
The next morning we woke up, ate a warm breakfast from the hut, and started our easy four-mile day. Since thunderstorms were predicted for the afternoon, we didn’t want to go over Mount Washington, so a low mileage day seemed like our best option. The afternoon turned into one of my favorites on trail. I hung out with the hut croo, making friendship bracelets, watching Shrek, and eating popcorn. The croo took us in and treated us with so much kindness. With a warm dinner in my stomach and a roof over my head, I fell asleep quickly.
Lady Bird and I woke up to the howling wind at 4:30 am in order to hike half a mile up Mount Monroe to watch the sunrise over Mount Washington. Lady Bird brought her sleeping bag and we sat on top, the summit to ourselves, and watched the clouds turn orange and pink over the second-highest point on the AT. It was a truly magical morning.
After breakfast, we set off up Mount Washington. It was a short but steep hike up to the top with amazing 360 views the whole way. We continued over two more four thousand footers before descending down to Madison Hut for lunch. The hike up Mount Madison was one of the steepest I have ever experienced. It was hand over hand bouldering and with people coming down, I had to continuously hop out of their way. We reached the top, and without a break continued to descend, our last four thousand footer of the day done.
My knees were aching and I was starting to dread the evening. The rest of the day was a steep downhill and with the amount of pain my knees were in I was unsure how far I could make it. We reached a campsite with tent platforms where I decided to stop while Lady Bird and Lindsey continued on. It was really hard to make this decision. I wanted to stick with them but I wasn’t mentally and physically able to keep going.
I cooked dinner with a couple of SOBO hikers and fell asleep at 6:45 pm, nervous for the next day. When I woke up, the first thing I noticed was that my knees still hurt. I groaned, knowing I had another day full of intense ups and downs. I hiked four miles to the highway, tears pooling in my eyes. When I got to the highway, I couldn’t get myself to cross and continue up the next mountain. I sat down and began balling. I didn’t want to hike anymore.
I called my mom and told her. We talked about all of my options and I decided to go into Gorham and skip the next 20 miles. I felt like I had finally taken control of my hike. If hiking the next 20 miles was going to make me miserable, what was the point? I was out here to hike my own hike, and if skipping these next 20 miles made me enjoy my hike more and aid me in getting to Maine, then it was the right decision for me.
Once in town, I arrived at the hostel where Bucca and Nav were staying. I showered and we went for a walk around town to find food. I spent the afternoon watching soccer and eating pasta.
Finishing New Hampshire
I was dropped back off at the trail the next day, with just ten miles left of New Hampshire. I was so excited to enter my last state and put New Hampshire behind me. I hiked all day by myself, passing 1,900 miles. I felt so happy and free, ready to conquer whatever Maine had in store for me. I saw a beautiful sunset in the evening and when I arrived at the shelter, Morning Dove and Landfill were there! I was so happy to see them again, and we agreed to tackle the rest of the trail together, including Mahoosuc Notch which we would attempt the next day.
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