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 πŸ˜‰

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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3 responses

1 07 2009
Deb

Hey Maria,
Matt and I are headed to Maine on Friday. Call me at 802-349-8048 if you are going over Old Spec (nice camping on the top). That is close to BP and perhaps we can visit.

1 07 2009
Deb

So we will be in BP July 3-?.

23 07 2009
Flamebo

I concur that Madison Hut is the best!

and I concur that Wildcat SUCKS! half the time we slid on our butts in the mud. did you say hi to the ski patrol hut as you passed? that brings back lovely memories of mice, ukaleles, and peeing in cups. oh, and being soaked to the bone and freezing and hungry πŸ™‚

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