Franconia Notch, NH to Pinkham Notch, NH



Franconia Notch to Pinkham Notch

Thursday, 8/13 - Monday, 8/17

Thursday, 8/13
AT Miles = 12.9 / 1818.6
Other Miles = 0.8 / 58.9
Total Miles = 13.7 / 1877.5

Friday, 8/14
AT Miles = 11.8 / 1830.4
Other Miles = 0 / 58.9
Total Miles = 11.8 / 1889.3

Saturday, 8/15
AT Miles = 14.0 / 1844.4
Other Miles = 0 / 58.9
Total Miles = 14.0 / 1903.3

Sunday, 8/16
AT Miles = 7.1 / 1851.5
Other Miles = 0 / 58.9
Total Miles = 7.1 / 1910.4

Monday, 8/17
AT Miles = 7.8 / 1859.3
Other Miles = 0 / 58.9
Total Miles = 7.8 / 1918.2

Miles to Katahdin = 319.0

My apologies to everyone for dropping off the face of the earth. It
has been impossible for me to post to my blog because my phone died
when it got soaking wet in a thunder and lightning storm last Tuesday
while I was climbing South Kinsman. That was the last day I blogged
about, using my laptop while staying at the home of my new friends,
Dave and Pam. Dave picked me up in Franconia Notch and I spent two
nights at their home, enjoying their hospitality, doing all of my town
chores, drying my boots, and resting up for the next legof my hike.

Pam dropped me off back at Franconia Notch bright and early on
Thursday morning, and I climbed up the very steep Liberty Springs
Trail until I reached the Franconia Ridge Trail. The forecast promised
clearing weather, and the morning was a mixture of cloud and clearing
bits which gave me hope for a fair weather day. As I walked along the
Franconia and then the Garfield Ridges I passed over a few of the 4000
footers: Little Haystack at 4760', Mt Lincoln at 5089', Mt Lafayette
at 5249', and Mt Garfield at 4488'.

Just past the summit of Mt Garfield I reached the Garfield Ridge
Campsite where I stopped to eat lunch. About 10 minutes into my break
it started to rain, so I packed up my things, put the rain cover on my
pack, and started hiking again. From here the trail descended down
until it looked like it crossed a brook just before it goes over a
waterfall, but looking across the brook I could see no trail. Slowly
the realization dawned that the waterfall actually is the trail! From
the campsite to Galehead Hut is only 2.7 trail miles, and it took me
over 2 1/2 hours to walk it. Mostly, that's because you can't actually
walk the trail. You climb the trail. You clamber down wet rocks and
boulders, holding onto small trees, cracks in the rock, and whatever
else you can find. After I got down the waterfall the trail turned up
again as it climbed to Galehead Hut. The rain was coming down harder
and harder, and the trail up to the hut was running a small white
water stream. The water was ankle deep and certainly didn't improve
traction on the rocks. I arrived at Galehead Hut about 4:30 and was
grudgingly granted work-for-stay by the unfriendly croo* there.

The next day the weather was much better, and after a very meager
breakfast -- 5 pancakes and a bowl of cold leftover oatmeal, split
between three hungry thru-hikers -- I set off for Ethan Pond Campsite.
A bit after noon I reached Zealand Falls Hut and spent a couple of
hours sitting on the porch eating lunch and relaxing while my boots
dried out a little bit in the sun. About 2:00 I left the Hut and hiked
the remarkably flat and smooth 5 miles to Ethan Pond. What a joy it
was to be able to stride along at full speed! I had a relaxing evening
at Ethan Pond chatting with a group from Harvard Medical School that
was out for three days. I also did my laundry and took a sponge bath,
which I hadn't been able to do at the hut.

From Ethan Pond, on Saturday, I made the 3 mile descent into Crawford
Notch, crossed the Saco River, and made the ridiculously steep ascent
to the Webster Cliffs. Whew! It was tough, slow going to Mizpah Spring
Hut, where I took a 30 minute break for lunch. Then I pushed on up to
Lakes of the Clouds Hut, which sits just below the summit of Mt
Washington. I got work-for-stay again at the hut, and they sure did
make us work for the privilege of sleeping in the dining room and
eating left-overs. I swept floors, cleared and washed tables, set
tables, cleared and washed them again, swept and scrubbed more floors,
and folded 300 blankets in the morning. In return for this we got a
pretty good dinner, eating leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, green
beans, and three bean salad. The breakfast was quite meager, though.
All we got was a few pancakes and some farina.

On Sunday I had a short day planned as a bit of a reward. I left Lakes
of the Clouds Hut and made the short climb to the summit of Mt
Washington. I spent a couple of hours hanging around here and eating
in the visitor center, then I left for the 6 mile hike to Madison
Spring Hut. The hike was remarkably difficult, andd I was more tired
than I expected when I arrived. I asked if they had any bunks left as
I was intending to pay for a bunk and thus get a full dinner and a
full breakfast, and not have to wait until all the paying guests had
eaten and then eat left overs, but they were full and the best I could
do was to get sork-for-stay again.

I had a big day planned for Monday; the 8 miles down to Pinkham Notch,
then the 6 miles up and over the four peaks of Wildcat Mountain and
finally to Carter Notch Hut. Alas, it was not to be. The trail down to
Pinkham Notch was steep and rocky, and my knees rebelled from the
pounding they had been taking through the Whites. It took me 5 1/2
ours to hobble down into Pinkham Notch, and it was clear I would be
going no further for a while. I called Jodi and asked her to drive up
to Pinkham Notch and pick me up. We got home last night and I have
spent today sleeping late, eating, napping, eating some more, and
napping even more.

All in all I was remarkably lucky with the weather through the White
Mountains. Over the weekend, while I was above tree line and climbed
the summit of Washington and on over the peaks and down into Pinkham
Notch, the weather was better than anyone has a right to expect up
there. For something like 270 days a year the summit of Washington is
fogged in, but when I was there it was sunny and warm and calm. I am
sure there are people that climb the mountain year after year and
never have such good weather. Yet, I resented every moment of my
hiking in the Whites. To me it is all just a huge obstacle between
wheree I am and where I want to be, which is at the end of this hike.
Burnout and fatigue, I guess. And there is plenty of tough going ahead
of me. Sigh.

No, I am not giving up. I have 319 miles to go, and I intend to finish
them all. But I am home for a few days, and rethinking my strategy. I
am trying to figure a way to slack-pack as much of the rest of the
trail as possible. I am worn down physically, and I don't see myself
hauling my full backpack for another 4 weeks through this very tough
terrain. I am not sure exactly when I will be back out on the trail,
but it won't be long; a few days at the most.

Oh, while I was staying at Dave and Pam's house I did get photos
uploaded for the section between Hanover and Franconia Notch. They can
be found here:

* Croo - the traditional spelling for the crew that works at any of
the AMC huts in the White Mountains.
Allen F. Freeman


Photos for the section from Franconia Notch to Pinkham Notch are here:

Allen F. Freeman

Friday, August 21, 2009

Frustration & Back To The Trail

Well, I've been home for most of the week now. It sure has been nice
to shower every day, and to partake in this very strange custom of
wearing clean clothes every day!

My plan is to ty to slack pack (hike with only a day pack) as much of
the rest of the trail as I can. Towards that end, I have made a
reservation for Sunday night at Carter Notch Hut. Tomorrow I will drive
up to Gorham and stay overnight at Hiker's Paradise hostel / motel. On
Sunday morning I will have them drop me off at Pinkham Notch, and make
the climb up the several summits of Wildcat Mountain and down to
Carter Notch and the Hut. On Monday I'll hike the 15 miles to US 2.
Since I have a reservation at the hut I don't have to carry my
hammock, tarp, sleeping bag, or food for dinner and breakfast. That
should make the hike easier and more enjoyable.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I will hike the ~31 miles to Grafton Notch
with all of my camping gear. This leg includes Mahoosuc Notch,
Mahoosuc Arm, and more of the Mahoosuc Range, so should be quite
challenging hiking. I was hoping to be able to slack pack this
section, but haven't been able to find anyone who shuttles out to the
back roads in this area.

Once I reach Grafton Notch I will move my base of operations up to
Andover, Maine, where the folks at Pine Ellis Hostel will help me
slack pack for a few more days.

Once past this area I haven't got definite plans, but if Jodi isn't
busy with work she is going to drive up and join me, helping me slack
pack. I hope to slack pack most of the trail up to Monson, Maine. Once
there I will have just the 100 mile wilderness left between me and
Baxter Park.

Over the last few days I have heard from most of the group I hiked
with so much at the beginning of my thru-hike. Sir Richard is
currently in the midst of the 100 mile wilderness and expects to
summit Katahdin on August 24. Topofgothics is somewhere in Maine and
still heading north. Paulman and CuppaJoe are off the trail due to
Paulman's knee injury and unsure if they will be back this year or
not. Spitfire and NoToyz are off due to knee injuries, and definitely
will not be back this year. It is sad to think how close they got to
finishing and serves to make me more determined than ever to finish.

I am totally unprepared to head back to the trail tomorrow. I have my
gear spread from one end of the house to the other. I have to pack
everything up tomorrow morning, and I hope I don't screw up and leave
anything important behind.

Allen F. Freeman

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gorham, NH

I am in Gorham, NH tonight. I left home after lunch today and drove up
here. It sure was hard saying goodbye to Jodi!

I am staying at Hiker's Paradise here in Gorham. Tomorrow morning I
will leave my car here tomorrow and take the bus to Pinkham Notch,
which is where I got off the trail on Monday. All I have planned for
tomorrow is to hike the second half of what I was supposed to hike
last Monday; the six miles from Pinkham Notch up and over Wildcat
Mountain and on to Carter Notch Hut. I have a reservation at the Hut
so will have a bunk there, which will let me hike with a small, light
pack. On Monday I'll hike the 15 miles from Carter Notch to US 2, then
will call and get a ride back to Hiker's Paradise for the night.

I am looking forward to hiking without my full backpack. It should
also be good for breaking in my third pair of boots, which have
exactly zero miles of hiking on them so far.
Allen F. Freeman


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Copyright 1996 - 2011 Allen F. Freeman
Last modified: November 03, 2011