Through the Whites!

30 06 2009

Hello all! It is waaay past hiker bedtime but I am obliged to write an update of my journey of the last 6 days. It has been a week of amazing beauty and carefree joy mixed with high anxiety and stress.

On Tuesday, I flew in to Manchester airport and was greeted by my good friend, Marie from Middlebury. She drove me the 90 miles north to Franconia notch and dropped me off, raring to go. THANK YOU, MARIE!!!! I hiked up 2 miles to Liberty Springs and stayed the night there in my new tent amidst the tree-rain and fog.

Next morning I was off over Mt. Lafayette (still foggy) and headed into Galehead hut by about 2pm. In my initial excitement, I burned up all my energy so I just stayed there that night and rested up chatting with the guests and hut staff. Next day was a different story, as I schemed a plan to hike 21 miles. (This would be a fairly normal day if I weren’t in the White Mountains — people talk about how you’re doing a good pace if you do a mile an hour here.) But the weather was sunny and beautiful, so it seemed things were going my way.

As I discovered later, during my hike I was so dead-set that I managed to zoom right past Beef’s Cousin Russ, who actually happened to be doing a day hike that very same day near Zealand Falls. I was the only person he didn’t talk to that day, just because he was talking to somebody else as I passed, and I was MOVING. Craziness! I hiked down and out of Crawford notch, and then up Mt. Webster and Mt. Jackson. I was panic-struck for the very exposed bit between the two mountains, because I started hearing thunder. I don’t know that I’ve ever climbed that fast in my life — seeing as I not only had metal tent poles in my pack, but was also carrying two very attractive-to-lightning hiking poles as I clambered up and down jagged rocks, adrenaline pumping in my ears. Finally back amid the cover of trees, I trudged into Mizpah hut, exhausted and ecstatic that they offered me an empty bunk room all to myself in exchange for some chores.

Friday was wonderful because the sun was shining and I headed up and over Mt. Washington! The second highest peak on the AT, Mt. Washington is renowned for having the worst weather in the world. As cross-training cross-country-skier teams passed me up and down, the breeze blew and the sun shone, I happily hiked to the 6000 some elevation feet to the top. There was a bit more of a thunderstorm scare as I ate lunch at the top, but I headed down without any trouble and made it safely to Madison Hut that night. I loved Madison most of all the huts, because not only did they have two Middkids working there, but we had strawberry-rhubarb crisp and my chore was cleaning and re-organizing their freezer! (This totally played to my EKG-tendencies and strengths 😉

Saturday was crazy — not only because I mixed up Saturday and Sunday thinking I was supposed to meet Dan (when I wasn’t) — but because for the two hours I waited and freaked out at Franconia notch visitor center (which is really quite nice) it rained. Hard. With thunder and lightning. So I wasn’t exactly keen to hike up Wildcat — another notorious and very difficult climb. However, once I’d called mom from the pay phone (no cell service) and gotten myself straightened out, things were looking up. The sun was out and shining and there were still enough hours in the day to hike 5 crazy miles. So I did. I got soaked even so — since there were lots of puddles and tree-branches were heavy with raindrops reaching across the trail.

By the way — Wildcat? FREAKING HARD. The mafia are my heroes for doing that in the pouring rain last year. Holy shmoly. I was basically rock-climbing the whole way. On slick rock. With deadly drop-offs and all alone. Can’t say I cherish the thought of doing that again. I’m glad it’s behind me.

Carter Hut welcomed me with open arms and I slept a nice dry night with a full belly amid friendly SOBOs. Next morning was wet wet wet, foggy foggy foggy for the hike over Carter dome and down, out of the whites to Rt. 2 where I was hoping to meet Cousin Russ.

We met up finally and went to pick up Dan and all made it home safely to Tamworth, where I peeled out of my wet stuff, bathed in the joy of no longer having to hike alone and the new energy and enthusiasm Dan brought. I slept in THE most comfortable bed known to man in COTTON clothes and woke up late to a beautiful, fabulous zero day today.

Now, as I type, Dan is trained in the art of pack packing, we’re resupplied, laundered, showered, extremely well-fed and basking in the warmth and love of Beef’s Cousins Russ, Jim and Aunt Jude (and even Juliet!). Life is looking good as we head into Maine in the next couple of days. Wish us luck and pray for dry weather, the forecast is calling for more rain (mixed with showers for variety) and there are sadly no more huts to shelter us in the days ahead.

Lots of love to you all!

-ekg

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A Long-Awaited Post Script

17 06 2009
Training with ABQ friends in the Sandias (altitude training!)

Training with ABQ friends in the Sandias (altitude training!)

Hello friends!  EKG here, blogging from Albuquerque, NM a week before my flight to New Hampshire. I will be utilizing our blog for this little post script of the Journey.

The down low: I joined the Mafia last year in August, at Franconia Notch in New Hampshire. I didn’t begin with them in June because I wanted to  finish up my volunteer year program in New Orleans.

So I hiked 1800 some odd miles in four months, finishing with the Vermont Mafia at Mt. Springer in Georgia on December 15th to all the glory, hiked-in family, photographs, friends and champagne.

. . . yet the moment was bittersweet . . .

I was not a true Thru-Hiker. I hadn’t truly finished the trail. I still had 375 miles left — the hardest part: Maine and New Hampshire. Not only are these states home to the 100 mile wilderness and the White Mountains, but you may recall that it rained for almost 40 days when the Vermont Mafia hiked these miles last Summer. The weather, to say the least, can be unpredictable (can we say Mt. Washington!!!?).

Yet true Thru-Hiker status beckons, and I don’t like to leave things unfinished.  Therefore, praying for dry(er) weather, and in the company of my plucky New Orleans community member, Mr. Dan T., I will FINISH THE TRAIL!!!

. . . and I had better do it on time, because I’ve got to get to a wedding on time in upstate New York! Else the music will be short my violin!

Wish us luck!

EKG





Presenting: AT SOBO ’08 Song

2 06 2009

At long last, I finally got on top of things and copied our beloved AT hiker song. It was collaboratively written. The tune is to that of “Poor Wayfaring Stranger.” We made up fun verses for most of the people we know (in fact, there may be some verses out there — FLAMEBO? — that I have forgotten, but it gets to be quite the litany, as I’m sure you can tell.) The animal references are from a game of “Essences” the Mafia played while hiking along somewhere in Vermont or New York, I believe.

Beef and I Jamming in PA

Beef and I Jamming in PA

By the way, I (ekg) WILL in fact be finishing my remaining 370 miles this year! I will hike from Franconia Notch, NH to Katahdin, ME beginning June 24, 2009, which is only about 4 weeks away! Joining me will be Mr. Dan T, my beloved JVC Henriette Delille House roommate from New Orleans.

Here’s the song:

We are all Appalachian Hikers
We live our lives the way we want
We’re goin’ south from Maine to Georgia,
And all the way it’s bon vivant.

CHORUS

We’re goin’ south to hike Mt. Springer!
We’re goin’ there, no more to roam,
The trail is long,
But we’re determined
To make it there
And then go home.

Verses:

There’s the Beef
She’s like a zebra
She’s got the flair and appetite
She comes from all over New England
And her guitar is a delight.

CHORUS

Then there’s Default
She’s like a golden
She’s as loyal as can be
She comes from Houston in Southern Texas
From the mid-town community.

CHORUS

There’s EKG
From Albuquerque
She’s like an owl, or a mountain lion.
She’ll pack your food in pretty patterns
And she will hike Maine in the Spring of ’09.

CHORUS

Then there’s Flamebo
She’s from Chicago
We’ve decided she’s a giraffe
She’s got the height and grace of that mammal
Just make sure you don’t get in her path!

CHORUS

There’s Cardshark
Like a coyote
Always cunning in his own way
He hikes so fast, he might miss Georgia
And end up in old Floriday

CHORUS

Then there’s D-Wreck
Who’s like the black bear
We crossed paths with along the trail
We like to call him the mayor of Manville
Cuz he’s the guru of all things male.

CHORUS

There’s also Mousetrap
Who, like the beaver
Likes to keep his body warm
But the beaver knows that panty-hose
Will not flatter his furry form

CHORUS

Now there’s Bookworm
Who’s from Ohio
Been friends with Mousetrap since they were wee
He likes to journal and gets the last laugh
Whether out-loud or silently

CHORUS

There’s Slot Machine
And Stretch
Who we started with way back in Maine
They hiked 3 1/2 marathons
Just to watch a football game

CHORUS

Then there’s Eilene
Who goes by Rumbles
Though that’s just one of her many names
Always friendly and quite social
But if you cross her, she won’t play games.

CHORUS

There’s also Bearwalker
Also a truck-driver
Grew up in Cali, lives in PA
Art is his passion, so when he’s finished
He’ll paint the AT all in landscapes

CHORUS

Repeat first verse.