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[at-l] Something trail related.....

We interrupt this "debate" about RnR, for some relaxation and recreation -- a 
trip report...  Short trip - kinda long report.... Delete as necessary ;-)

Started out with a plan for 4 days 4 nites on Franconia Ridge and down into 
the Pemi Valley, a very nice loop with a stop at Galehead Hut - never stayed 
in a hut before.  Monday - drive up from Natick, MA ....Lincoln Woods trail 
to Osseo Trail to Liberty Springs campsite - and that's a LONG .3 mi down and 
back up!  Very nice campsite and Caretaker Rob was very nice as well.  Met 4 
other section hikers at Liberty Spring, but it was raining all evening so 
nobody really socialized - (ooh that dirty word!)  It had started to cloud 
over by the time we parked the car and was very misty on the ridge - i.e. NO 
views at all.  This persisted ALL DAY tuesday as we walked the Franconia 
Ridge... we were bummed by the absence of any view at all (except for maybe 
100 yds in front of us).  But this had its own beauty since things just kept 
appearing out of nowhere and we were always sort of guessing where we were.  
It also kept any bugs completely away!  

I got to check out my brand spankin' new (12 ounce - I weighed it on the 
scale at REI) Marmot Precip jacket.  I pronounce it awesome!  It completely 
blocked the wind and even when hiking it was able to vent any sweat so it did 
not feel clammy at all!  How do they DO that?  It never really poured on us, 
just misty and rainy (but not raining, if ya know what I mean).  We did have 
one or two breaks in the mist when the sun broke through, but we still 
couldn't see anything that would qualify as a view.  I had been there before 
on a perfect day, but my poor friend Rhonda had heard me building up this 
great hike and the views for about a week...... 

Coming down Lafayette I rolled my ankle - after about 30 seconds of pain and 
fear that my hike was all done and wondering how the hell we'd get out, I 
realized it was going to remain functional.  So we hiked on.  Before we 
summitted Garfield (which was completely fogged in again = no view!) I had 
rolled it 2 more times, by now sore but still functional.   We were beginning 
to worry about making it to Galehead Hut at all, much less in time for 
dinner!   And what big fun coming down from Garfield!  Never climbed down an 
active waterfall with a 30 lb pack on my back and a sprained ankle....

We got to a point where we could see a "house" in the trees ahead.  Decided 
it must be Galehead Hut, what else could it be?   Funny how distance and 
steepness are so magnified at the end of a long day.  We both conceded that 
we had maybe planned too long a day, but nothing to do but go on!   As we 
were passing the last side trail (Gale Wind Tr??) with .6 to go, a thru hiker 
blew by us - Rocket Man (aptly named), asked if we were going to Galehead, 
said he was too.

We finally got to the hut at 6:30, just in time to immediately sit down for 
dinner, NOT so good for the quads and calves, but oh so yummy for the tummy!  
I did take time to get out of my boots and check out my ankle.... a little 
swelling but seemed not too bad.  Wrapped it up with some tape, kept it 
elevated, and hoped for the best....

Loved the hut!  It was completely rebuilt in '99 and was absolutely gorgeous! 
 Bunks were 4 high, but there were only about 15 of us there so nobody had to 
sleep up top.  Dinner was fabulous and we had a little nature walk after.  We 
were invited by the Croo to climb Galehead (.5 each way).. I passed on that 
for the evening...  We were introduced to the Croo and Rocket Man (Billy) who 
is 17 and is thru hiking with his Mom (Mother Goose)!  His little brother 
(Little Rocket Man) hiked with them until Vermont.  They started Feb 4.  
Mother Goose rolled in about 9am next morning with 3 other thru hikers - 
didn't get their names.  What a great thing for Mom and son to do together.  
They are loving it and don't relish the thought of finishing and returning to 
their other life.

By morning my ankle was a lovely shade of purple, but still functional - 
stiff but functional.  Any of my athletes with an ankle looking like that 
would be in a boot cast and on ice for the next 2 days at least!  At $60 a 
nite Galehead Hut didn't seem the place to lay around.  Original plan was to 
go to Thoreau Falls Trail, Wilderness Trail, camping someplace when we got 
tired, up Franconia Brook Tr to 13 Falls Campsite and back to the car.  That 
seemed a little ambitious and I was pretty unsure of my ankle so we decided 
to go down Twin Brook trail and maybe stay at 13 falls and walk out a day 
early.  We hung out at Galehead til 11am, did the hike up to Galehead itself 
to see the view (of course this was a perfect day with views all around!  Of 
all the hikers we met and all the times everyone had been on Garfield, NONE 
of us had ever had a view from there - always fogged in!)  We got to 13 Falls 
about 1:00 and hung out there til 3.  I put my ankle in the cold water (a 
natural cold whirlpool), which felt GREAT!   This is one of the most 
beautiful places I have ever seen.  Water rushing all around, flat rocks to 
hang out on, sun shining but cold water whenever you wanted a little dip.... 
a little bit of heaven!  Rhonda broke out her stove and made burritos..... 
Good Livin'!

Then the plan was to walk to the last legal place we could camp, which as 
near as we could figure was about 5 miles from the car.  Well, Franconia 
Brook Trail is a completely flat, wide, straight as an arrow railroad bed 
with several water crossings (boring under most circumstances, but my ankle 
was very happy about it), so we just kept walking and made it to the car by 
7pm.  I figured my ankle was functional then, but might not be the next 
morning....   So, while it didn't turn out as planned, it was a wonderful 
time..... As it turned out, the beauty of our ridge walk plan was that there 
were so many bail-out opportunities if needed.  Not exactly the big 
"transition" from my career to being a student that I wanted it to be, but 
still it was great!  I don't see me heading up Mt. Garfield anytime soon 
however!  That was a killer!  

Thanks to all who offered advice on a good route.  Especially to see 13 
Falls!  Now back to our regularly scheduled debate.......

Poor Graduate Student