Hanover, NH to Franconia Notch, NH
AT Miles = 11.0 / 1747.5
Other Miles = 0.1 / 55.0
Total Miles = 11.1 / 1802.5
Miles to Katahdin = 430.8
Jodi and I had such a wonderful evening last night! I spent the afternoon doing zero day chores, mostly working out logistics for the upcoming sections. I never did find time to take a swim in the hotel pool. Then it was dinner time and I asked Jodi what she wanted to do for dinner, and she suggested we head over to Chester and find someplace to eat there. Chester is only a dozen or so miles over the pass from Springfield, and we had stayed at an inn there last year on Memorial Day weekend when we spent the weekend cycling and running.
We drove over to Chester and decided to have dinner at the Inn which is right on the town green. It was a gorgeous evening out, with cool, dry air and just enough puffy cumulous clouds in the sky to add a bit of depth. We got a table on the front porch of the inn, and soon after we sat down we noticed a concert about to start in the park across the road. It was a jazz ensemble, and they were very good. So we sat outside sipping our martinis and eating our dinner, listening to big band jazz and watching the locals enjoy the concert. A great way to end my latest zero day.
This morning Jodi dropped me off at the post office in Hanover, where I mailed my bounce box up the trail to Lincoln, NH, then I started walking. It is only 44 miles from Hanover to Glencliff, my next town stop. If I pushed a bit, as usual, I could make it there in 3 days, which would put me there on Sunbday. But I have a mail drop at the post office in Glencliff, so getting there on Sunday makes no sense at all. That leaves me free to take it very easy for the next 4 days, and get there on Monday.
I really enjoyed hiking without any time pressure today. I left Hanover after 10:00AM. Around 12:30 I was at a point where the trail crosses a road, and just up the road is an old cemetery with fresh-cut grass and nice sunshine, so I walked down there and sat in the sun while I ate my lunch. I left there around 1:00, and by 3:00 I was here at the shelter.
The weather is quite cool today. It feels like late summer in northern New England. It is breezy in a way I haven't felt for months. The forecast calls for the temp to fall into the 40s tonight. It should be great sleeping all snugged into my bag tonight.
This is Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) territory. The DOC has been blazing trails between Hanover and the Whites since long before the Appalachian Trail existed. Traditionally the DOC blazes trails in alternating orange and black stripes, which I assume are the school colors. The DOC maintains this section of the AT and they do use the standard white blazes, but they also mix in some of the old orange and black blazes, which are sometimes referred to as Halloween blazes. The signs the DOC puts up are also black on orange. Tradition counts for a lot in New England!
"Home is where I hang my food bag"
AT Miles = 12.4 / 1759.9
Other Miles = 0.1 / 55.1
Total Miles = 12.5 / 1815.0
Miles to Katahdin = 418.4
Boy,it was cold lat night! I wore every bit of clothing I have, which isn't all that much, while sitting around after supper. Normally I wiuld have crawled into my sleeping bag to stay warm and passed the evening reading, but there was a nice group of weekenders and section hikers at the shelter, and I greatly enjoyed their company as we all sat around the campfire and sipped shots of Jack Daniels from a bottle one of them had brought. After watching a bright orange moon rise around i8:30, I finally did go to bed and barely stayed warm during the night.
I allowed myself the luxury of sleeping in a bit, and thus didn't get moving until 7:30 this morning. It was a surprisingly tough day's hike, which found me at the summit of Smarts Mountain about a quarter of two this afternoon. It surprises and worries me how tired I am and how much my knees ache after hiking only 11 miles yesterday and 12.5 miles today.
I set up my hammock near the Fire Wardens Cabin here near the summit, and after reading for a while managed to fall asleep for a while; I'm not sure how long. It is 6:00PM now and again I am wearing all the clothes I have but am not quite keeping warm. I will be in Glencliff on Monday morning where I will pick up a food drop and some warmer clothes that Jodi mailed to me there. I decided not to have Jodi send my warmer sleeping bag yet, planning to continue using my summer bag. I hope that doesn't prove to be a mistake. I will have my warm long johns to wear at night, as well as my down jacket which I add to the bottom insulation of my hammock on cold nights.
I saw a bear this morning; my fourth to date. I heard him moving through the underbrush and stopped to look. Once he was far enough away to not feel threatened, he stopped and looked back, and we stood for several minutes studying each other. Any day I see a bear is a good day.
Two of the section hikers that were at Moose Mountain SHelter last night had said they were planning to be here tonight, but they haven't showed up yet. There are two other southbound hikers here tonight, who I haven't really had a chance to talk to yet. I am going to stop typing and cook my dinner now. I haven't had any cell coverage since leaving Hanover yesterday morning, so I'm not sure when I'll get to send this.
Oh, I think yesterday I said I assumed the Dartmouth colors were orange and black since the DOC uses those colors for their blazes and all their signs, but I have since been told the school colors are green and something, so I guess my theory is shot to heck. That'll teach me to assume anything.
"Home is where I hang my food bag"
"Home is where I hang my food bag"
AT Miles = 19.9 / 1779.8
Other Miles = 1.3 / 56.4
Total Miles = 21.2 / 1836.2
Miles to Katahdin = 398.5
Last night was a beautiful night. I went up in the fire tower to take some evening photos, and also to get cell service. That was the first place I had been able to get service since leaving Hanover. There is no service at all here in Glencliff, so I don't know when I will be able to send this.
This morning was sunny and I had some great views while climbing over Mt Cube. By noon the sky was starting to cloud up, and by 3:00PM it started raining lightly.
The original plan for today was to hike 12.4 miles to Ore Hill Shelter, but soon after starting off this morning I decided I would try to get all the way into Glencliff if I could. I hiked pretty hard all day and got here before 5:30. I've showered and my laundry is in the washer. It's a bit pricey at $5.00 for wash and dry for 2 pairs of socks and a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, but clean dry socks are important and I have to send the shorts and T-shirt home in the mail tomorrow. Jodi probably wouldn't appreciate opening a package of dirty, sweaty clothes.
The post office opens at 7:00 tomorrow, and I will pick up my food drop and my warm clothes that Jodi sent. If the weather clears up I will leave here and climb up and over Mt Moosilauke, the first of the White Mtn peaks. If it rains all day tomorrow I may stay here and postpone the climb a day. The guidebook warns against climbing down the north side of Moosilauke in wet weather.
I have a sort of schedule that puts me at Katahdin on September 15. That schedule includes no zero days, and there is no way I am going to hike for y6 weeks without taking any days off, but I am determined not to let the 9/15 date slip, so I will have to 'earn' any zeros. I arrived here in Glencliff a day ahead of schedule, so I have one zero day 'in the bank.' It would be nice not to have to use that banked day tomorrow.
I got an email from Paulman and CuppaJoe today. Paulman fell just across the Maine border and hurt his knee, so they had to get off the trail for a while. Luckily he is apparently healing well and they will be back on the trail in a few days, but you just never know what mishap could end your hike.
"Home is where I hang my food bag"
AT Miles = 9.5 / 1789.3
Other Miles = 0.9 / 57.3
Total Miles = 10.4 / 1846.6
Miles to Katahdin = 389.0
The weather toyed with me this morning. In my "Appalachian Pages" book there is a notation that "North side of Mt Moosilauke is steep and often slick," and I had heard that there are signs on the trail warning that it is hazardous when wet or icey. Since it was raining when I went to bed last night, I was determined to try to ascertain the weather before venturing up and over Moosilauke. Well, when I went outside this morning there were bits of blue sky showing and it looked like the weather was going to break up, so I was at the post office when it opened at 7:00AM to get my food drop and the warm clothes Jodi had sent to me, and by 7:45 I was walking up the road towards the trailhead.
As soon as I left the road I had to climb down a mud bank, then swap boots and socks for my sandals so I could wade Oliverian Brook, which was more a river than a brook. After a short warm up wherein the trail climbed rather easily, the world turned quite vertical and I spent the next few hours climbing steeply and steadily. The weather, meanwhile, had closed in again and I climbed through a heavy fog with quite warm temperatures and 100% humidity. I poured gallons of sweat and thousands of calories into climbing to the summit of Moosilauke, and in return I was treated to views that went on and on for two, sometimes three feet! I did prevail on a couple of day hikers who were also at the summit to take my photo next to the summit sign. I haven't looked yet to see how that turned out.
Some of you may recall that I climbed Moosilauke last February, on snowshoes, from the east. That was quite a clear day, though bitterly cold at the summit. If you go to the hiking folder in my photo gallery, there should be a Moosilauke album there from that trip.
With the wind blowing shreds of cloud across the summit sideways, my glasses were totally fogged up and covered with water droplets. I couldn't see anything with my glasses on, and without my glasses I can't see much of anything anyway, so I was pretty much blind. I managed to find a white blaze and started across the summit and down the north side. I missed the turn for the Beaver Brook Trail, which is the route the AT follows, and started down what I later figured out was the Benton Trail. After descending a couple tenths of a mile, I noticed that I was breaking through a lot of spider webs. I knew other AT hikers were ahead of me this morning, so those webs shouldn't have been there. That's when I stopped to study the map and figured out what I had done. So, I turned around and climbed back up those couple of tenths, then started down the correct trail.
I picked my way down the rocky trail until I reached the Beaver Brook Shelter. This was my nominal goal for the day, and I could have stayed here, but it seemed early to stop and it wasn't a very inviting spot anyway. I thought of pushing on 9 miles to the next shelter north, and was getting ready to leave when another thru-hiker, Baltimore Andy, showed up. We fell into a very pleasant conversation and then a couple of day hikers stopped by and they joined the conversation. Again I was going to leave, then I remembered my promise to myself to stop pushing so hard for miles all the time and let myself enjoy the hike more, so I settled back and let the conversation flow until it was well past 2:00PM.
Finally I left, with the goal simply of hiking down to Kinsman Notch, at which point I would decide whether to go on another 7.5 miles to the next shelter, or to hitch into town for the night. Well, the 1.6 miles from Beaver Brook Shelter to the Notch took me nearly an hour and a half to negotiate. The Beaver Brook Trail here descends very steeply over a jumble of wet rocks and boulders. Even going downhill, I was sweating up a storm and was exhausted from concentrating so intently on foot and pole placement to avoid taking a bad tumble. It was nearly 4:00 when I got to the trailhead, much too late to set off to hike another 7 1/2 miles, so I turned my attention to trying to hitch a ride into town. I've been told that it's tough to hitch around the Whites, and so far my experience bears that out. I lucked out, though, and a family I had passed on the trail just in from the road, and exchanged pleasantries with, saw me and offered me a ride into town. It turns out that they, too, are
from the Boston area. The husband said he used to climb Moosilauke all the time as a teenager, and that he had proposed to his wife at the summit. They are in the Whites on vacation, and were trying to decide when their daughters would be old enough to be able to make the climb to the summit. They asked a lot of questions about thru-hiking, and very kindly went a bit out of their way to drop me right at the motel here. Now I just hope I can get a ride back out of town and up to Kinsman Notch in the morning.
My plan for tomorrow is to hike the 13 miles from the Notch to Lonesome Lake Hut, where I am going to make my first attempt at getting work for stay. Hopefully that will work out. That will leave me just a few miles from Franconia Notch on Wednesday morning, where I need to go into the town of Lincoln to pick up my bounce box at the post office. On Wednesday night I will be staying with a couple that live near Franconia Notch. They have been reading this blog and very kindly offered their hospitality wqhen I reached the area. I am greatly looking forward to meeting them.
I was hoping last week's weather was a portent of a changed weather pattern for August, but it seems now we are back to warm humid weather with a chance of thunderstorms pretty much every day. I hope the weather treats me well as I make my way through the Whites. Being above treeline in a storm is no fun, to say the least!
So, goodnight from North Woodstock!
"Home is where I hang my food bag"
AT Miles = 16.4 / 1805.7
Other Miles = 0.8 / 58.1
Total Miles = 17.2 / 1863.8
Miles to Katahdin = 372.6
I had a nice night in North Woodstock, with a good dinner followed by
a nice, filling breakfast this morning. After breakfast I positioned
myself on Rt 112, the road back up to Kinsman Notch, and tried
hitching. After 40 unfruitful minutes, I gave up on hitchhiking and
called The Shuttle Connection. That 5 mile ride cost me $12.00, but it
got me to the trailhead.
It was a few minutes before 9:00 when I started hiking, and it took me
4 hours to hike the 7.5 miles to Eliza Brook Shelter. I stopped here
for lunch, and met a couple out for an overnight heading south. We
chatted a bit about the climb up and over South and North Kinsman
which they had just done and which I was about to do. Just as they
left the woman remarked to me "Well, at least the rocks will be."
Jinx! I packed up from lunch and started up the trail with the sun
shining. 5 minutes later I heard the crash and boom of thunder, and
the skies opened up and poured on me. It was a biblical storm in the
amount of rain that came down. The water was so deep in some of the
usually wet low spots that in one place the puncheon were actually
floating. At least, they were until I stepped on it. Wet feet!
I spent the next several hours climbing and clambering up step, wet
rocks. It was not fun. My socks and boots were squishy wet. When I
finally got to the summit of South Kinsman I stopped very briefly to
take a few photos. The view was actually quite spectacular and the
storm was clearing down below me, but I could still hear thunder so
was scurrying up the trail as quickly as I could to get back down
before another storm came through.
It was 4:00 by the time I got to Kinsman Pond Shelter. From here it is
only 2 miles to Lonesome Lake Hut, my goal for the day. Pushing as
hard as I could, it was after 5:00 when I finally reached Lonesome
Lake. I just don't know how to figure the time it will take to hike
between any two points around here. So much of the trails here are not
really hiking at all, but slowly climbing up and down rocks and huge
Back while I was eating lunch at Eliza Brook I had turned on my phone
to find a voice-mail from Dave Smith, telling me that if I wanted to
hike the few extra miles down to Franconia Notch he would meet me
tonight and bring me home for a shower, a steak dinner, and a bed.
This was an irresistible offer after the soaking I had taken, so when
I got to Lonesome Lake Hut I wanted to call Dave and tell him I would
take him up on his offer, but my cell phone had gotten wet in the
storm and was not working. I borrowed a cell phone from one of the Hut
staff and called Dave to arrange for him to pick me up at the
trail-head parking area near The Flume in two hours, then pressed on.
Whew! I made it down to the trail-head with about 20 minutes to spare.
I waited for Dave, then he showed up and whisked me off home for a hot
shower and a big steak dinner. Civilization is a wonderful thing!
This was a tough day. 10 1/2 hours to hike 17 miles! Back in Virginia
17 miles would have been a 7 hour hike. After Connecticut,
Massachusetts, and Vermont, I was just getting used to only being able
to cover 2 miles per hour rather the 2.5 I had gotten used to through
the Mid-Atlantic states. Now it looks like I am going to have to start
figuring 1.5 mph at best through the Whites. Ugh!
Allen F. Freeman