New Hampshire, Part 1- Hanover to Mt Washington

Day 157- 8.25.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 13.2 miles today (1744.8-1758.0). We ate eggs and toast with Betsy while waiting for the rain to stop. After the rain let up, we walked down the road, and as we crossed the Connecticut River, we also crossed into New Hampshire! 12 states down, 2 more to go! We had been given some pointers on places to go in Hanover. We stopped by Lou’s for free crullers, and then went to Ramunto’s for free slices of pizza. Delish! I also got new shoes in the mail, so that was pretty exciting. Our goal was to walk through town as quickly as possible, spending the least amount of money possible.   Not an easy task when the trail follows the main street through town!

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We got back into the woods around 2, and it was considerably more humid than we anticipated. And the climb was also more difficult than it looked on paper. Fuego was convinced that someone (me) put rocks in his pack. My pack felt pretty heavy too, even though I just mailed a few things home. We got to Moose Mountain Shelter just as it started getting dark. We ate the burritos we packed out from town and set up in the shelter with East and Mezla.

Day 158- 8.26.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 12.4 miles today (1758.0-1770.4). We had our first wide-open view of New Hampshire- beautiful! It was also amazing to us how quiet and serene it was out here. We stopped on Dorchester Street to visit Bill Ackerly, “The Icecream Man.” He invites hikers to his house for ice cream and croquet. The climb up Smarts Mountain was tough. There were parts with rebar stuck into the rock like a ladder so you could climb up without dying. We decided to camp at the top in hopes of catching a sunrise in the morning. We opted to stay inside the cabin at the top because there wasn’t anywhere flat to pitch the tent. We hung out with East, Mezla, Katherine, Spacetime and three guys from Israel who were on a 10-day hike in New Hampshire.

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Day 159- 8.27.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 16.2 miles today (1770.4-1786.6). We woke up at 5:40 for a chance to see the sunrise from the tower on top of the mountain. It was cloudy, but we went anyways. There were some glimpses of sunrise as the clouds rolled by, but not the wide-open sunrise view we’d hoped for. At lunch, it started to sprinkle and because it was pretty chilly, I was prepared to camp right there by the river! Since we’re usually pretty sweaty, we get cold pretty quickly when we stop to take a break.

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We planned to camp near the river by the road, but another group was already set up there, so we got water and kept walking until we found a flat spot. My back is still feeling okay, even after carrying an extra 2L of water (~4lbs) to our campsite.

Day 160- 8.28.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 13.1 miles today (1786.6-1799.7). Excited for our first big climb in New Hampshire today! We ran into The Mooners today as we started our ascent. I was actually surprised at how easily I climbed the mountain. The forest around the trail was so mossy! We also ran into Chief Pretty Foot! We hadn’t seen him since we hiked in southern Virginia. He had to get off trail for an injury, so he flip-flopped and is hiking south back to Shenandoah.

The view from the summit of Mount Moosilauke was amazing! This was our first time being above treeline in New Hampshire. Seeing the huge mountains we have yet to climb in the White Mountains was unreal. Seeing so far in all directions really solidified that we want to move out west after we finish the trail. There’s so much more exploring we want to do! The summit was also the windiest we’ve experienced so far. At some point in the past, other hikers constructed rock wall windbreaks for visitors to rest without getting blown over.

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Most of the climb down was pretty easy trail until we reached the last mile. The last mile was the steepest mile of trail we’ve encountered thus far on the trail. Parts of the trail were so steep that they cut out pieces of rock and added wooden blocks as stairs.   I was scared I might fall off the trail and fall into the waterfall (an actual possibility since the trail was slippery and uncomfortably close to the waterfall!). We ran into 1999 thru-hiker Stitches giving trail magic at Kinsman Notch. She also drove Waves and us into town. We had dinner at Gypsy’s, stopped at the grocery store and bought a beanie for me. By the time we were finished in town, it was already dark. We miraculously hitched a ride in the dark and stealth camped a few tenths of a mile south on the trail.

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Day 161- 8.29.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 14.4 miles today (1799.7-1814.1). Not too long into our hike, we crossed the 1800 mile mark! Less than 300 miles until we summit Katahdin! We stopped for lunch at the Eliza Brook Shelter, and then started the insane climb up South Kinsman. It didn’t look that steep on paper, but holy moly was it steep! There were times that Fuego has to pull me up a rock and times where I climbed up on my hands and knees. By the time we got to the top, we were sweaty and dirty. Some day hikers gave us swigs of Buffalo Trace when we reached the summit.

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We passed our first AMC hut today, the Lonesome Lake Hut. We walked by at dinnertime, so we didn’t get to go inside to check it out. The reflection of the mountains on the lake was absolutely beautiful, like out of a magazine. By this time though, I was done hiking for the day. My feet hurt, my knees hurt and my back was giving me trouble. We kept our eyes open for a stealth spot outside of the forest protection area around the hut, but before Franconia Notch. As the trail paralleled Cascade Brook, we spotted a flat area on the other side of the brook and set up just as the sun went down.

Day 162- 8.30.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 11.5 miles today (1814.1-1825.6). We woke up at 6 to get to the road by 7:45 to get a ride into town. We had to walk a 1-mile bike path before getting to the road. I-93 parallels Route 3 and in hindsight, we should have realized it was early Sunday morning and there wasn’t going to be much traffic. We walked down route 3 for 2 miles before getting a ride the rest of the way into town. I was proud of us for getting back to the trail by noon. Unfortunately, we picked up a 4-day resupply and then started a 2800 foot climb at the hottest part of the day. We were really slow. Waves caught up to us and we hiked together.

I’m not sure exactly how I had been living under such a big rock on the trail, but I somehow didn’t know exactly how awesome Franconia Ridge would be! We had 360 degree views of the White Mountains that were just breathtaking! It was hard to keep walking forward, since we were stopping to take photos and to take in the views. Looking back at the ridge from Mount Lincoln, the trail resembled the Great Wall of China from above. It is hard to do the ridge justice describing it on paper and by showing photos. You don’t really get to feel how wide-open it is up there, along with the strong gusts of wind. We hung out at the top of Mount Lafayette, but had to peel ourselves from the ridge to be able to get to our intended campsite while we still had daylight.

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Going back below tree line was intense. The wide-open views were replaced with bright green moss covering almost everything and sound of the wind was replaced with pure silence.

We camped at a stealth spot adjacent to Garfield Pond with Plus One, Waves, Parks, Sputnik and Fair Enough. Fuego made a fire and we all ate dinner together. Sputnik and Fair Enough had their entire food bag (5 day resupply) eaten the night before by a bear while they were camped near Franconia Notch. They had their food bag inside Fair Enough’s pack under the vestibule of their tent. The bear pulled the backpack out from under the vestibule and dragged it into the woods to eat the food. They had to go back into town to resupply, buy a new food bag and Sputnik sewed Fair Enough’s pack back together with dental floss. Definitely a good reminder to stop being lazy and hang our food bag every night!

Day 163- 8.31.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 10.3 miles today (1825.6-1835.9). We slept in and were on the trail by 9:20, starting our hike by summitting Mount Garfield. We stopped by Galehead Hut for water, lunchtime and to have a peek inside. We ate bean soup, all you can eat pork and all you can eat pancakes for $5! After lunch, we had an 1100-foot climb in 0.8 miles to summit South Twin Mountain. The rest of the hike today was pretty easy. There were a lot of rocks and a lot of small hills to climb, but nothing major. We were in a hurry to get to Zealand Falls Hut between 4 and 5 pm in hopes of getting to do work-for-stay. I feel like WFS at a hut will help us get the full experience of hiking in the White Mountains. We arrived to the hut at 4:30 and we were the lucky 2 thru-hikers today 🙂

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Galehead Hut

Galehead Hut

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We sat by the falls for a while and soaked our feet in the cold mountain water. After dinnertime at the hut, we got to eat all of the leftovers. The work we did for WFS was to do a question and answer session with the hut guests. Everyone seemed pretty excited to talk to us. We talked to one guest at the hut who was in the process of completing something called, “The Grid.” In New Hampshire, there are 48 mountains that are at or above 4,000 feet and a lot of hikers try to summit each of the 48 peaks. To do The Grid, you summit each of the peaks in each month of the year! That’s 576 4000-foot summits!

Day 164- 9.1.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 14.3 miles today (1835.9-1850.2). We woke up just before 6 in order to get out of the dining room where we slept so “the croo” could prepare breakfast for the hut guests (“the croo” being what workers at the huts are called). Afterwards, we got to eat the leftovers, swept out the bunk rooms and then hit the trail. The next 5 miles to Ethan pond were the easiest 5 miles of the AT in the Whites. We ran into Stitches again at Crawford Notch giving trail magic. After eating a lot of food and hanging out with Stitches, we climbed up to Webster Cliffs. The climb was pretty rough on us. It was during the hottest part of the day and we were drenched with sweat, although the views from Mount Webster and Mount Jackson more than made up for the difficult climb. We asked for WFS at the Mitzpah Hut, but were declined, so we went to the adjacent Nauman Campsite. Fuego did WFS and I set up our campsite and made dinner, since we were racing to get everything done before it got dark.

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Zealand Falls Hut

Zealand Falls Hut

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Stitches, '99

Stitches, ’99

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Day 165- 9.2.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 14.9 miles today (1850.2-1865.1). Today was pretty exciting because we were finally going to summit Mount Washington! I feel like we’d been talking about and waiting for this moment forever! Fuego and I maintained our “Hardo” status and stayed on the Appalachian Trail, and skipped summitting Mt. Eisenhower and Mt. Monroe. The AT follows the “bad weather” route around each summit, although you have the option to follow a different trail that leads over each summit. We arrived to the Lake of the Clouds Hut and were surprised at how big it is. They have bunks for 95 guests! They didn’t have any food for purchase ready yet, but one of the croo gave us each big pieces of “burnt” coffee cake. Burnt by guest standards, but delicious by thru-hiker standards!

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Dining room in Lake of the Clouds Hut

Dining room in Lake of the Clouds Hut

It took us 50 minutes to climb from the hut to the summit of Mount Washington (more if you factor in the time we had to spend standing in line to take a photo with the summit sign). There were a lot of people who either drove their cars or rode the train to the summit. hiked with Seabiscuit from the summit to the Madison Spring Hut. Hiking with him definitely helped us keep a much quicker pace. WE asked for WFS at the hut, but got turned down, even though we were within the recommended time window for getting WFS. The croo member we talked to said we still had plenty of time to reach the next campsite 3 miles away, but a SOBO coming through would have to hike an additional 7 miles past the hut to reach a place to camp. Reluctantly, we hiked on.

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Lake of the Clouds Hut

Lake of the Clouds Hut

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Mt Madison with Madison Springs Hut at it's base

Mt Madison with Madison Springs Hut at it’s base

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Climbing down from Mt Madison- we weren't lying when we said it is literally a giant pile of rocks!

Climbing down from Mt Madison- we weren’t lying when we said it is literally a giant pile of rocks!

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I’m actually glad we had to keep hiking because the descent down from Mt Madison was really tough! It was essentially a giant pile of rocks with giant rock cairns marking the way down. It was really rough on our feet and knees. Even after the trail went below treeline, the trail remained rocky and very steep. We raced the sunset down to the Osgood Campsite and Parks offered to share his tent platform with us. We set up as the sun disappeared and ate in the dark.

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