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I thought the trails would be much more crowded.  Mizpah
Hut and Nauman tentsite must have held 100 hikers in total
plus another 90 just 5 miles up the trail at the Lakes of
the Clouds Hut.  Amazingly enough, after the first half hour,
we were pretty much alone.

We stopped for a break at Lakes of the Clouds and grubbed
some leftover sausages from "The Croo".  They're usually
really nice about trying to "feed the thru-hikers."  Even
Micah got some sausages.

It was a surprisingly easy climb up Mt. Washington.  I don't
know what I was expecting, but the climbs up Moosilaukee and
Kinsman were much more difficult.  Not very many people up
there since the visibility was only 50-100', but it was still
neat to be on top of a 6288' tall peak.  The highest wind
ever recorded on land occurred at the observatory on top of
this mountain.  It was 235 mph!

We spent a good deal of time chatting with tourists.    I got
my maildrop and some letters from Eddie Grubb and Gus.  
There's a backpacker room in the basement of the visitor's
center and we spent a long time organizing our gear.  There
were even bathrooms with hot water and flush toilets, so I
did my best at taking a sink bath.  Today's our 7th day 
without a shower or clean clothes and it's definitely 
catching up.

We're camped at The Perch tonight.  It's a shelter with tent
platforms about a mile off the AT.  The Presidential Range
has a 12+ mile section of trail above tree line and it's
just not safe to camp that high up, so all the shelters and
campsites are a ways off the trail.  We had hoped to make it
further today but the trail after Mt. Washington was 
extremely rocky and slow going.  It was a good decision to
call it quits a little earlier than planned.  We still didn't
get into camp until 6pm and just as we finished up dinner,
it began to pour.  Abe is the only other hiker at this site

9/8 - Day 182
9.9 mi to Pinkham Notch - 1840.1 cum

I was pretty concerned about Micah this morning.  Something
just wasn't right.  He wasn't noticeably limping or 
anything, but he was just very slow and tentative on the
trail.  He usually hikes in front, but today he kept falling
behind and following.  I'm worried that his feet are getting
tender from all the rocks.

We started the day with a grueling 1 mile climb up from The
Perch just to get back to the AT.  Once we hit the AT, I
felt like I was back in PA.  The rocks are just absolutely
unforgiving.  My knees and my feet are in a lot of pain
once again.  My speed was down to 1mph over this stuff.

We made it to Madison Hut and took a brief break and ate 
some leftover coffeecake and some type of apple spice cake.
The climb up Mt Madison afterwards was more of a goat trail
than a footpath.  We're still not getting many views due to
cloud cover, but the clouds rolled away just long enough
to reveal the remainder of the ridge left to go.  Ughhh!
It just seemed to go on forever.  I absolutely hate these
rocks!  I kept taking little "pity breaks" every 30 minutes
or so to lament over my abominably slow progress and all my
aches and pains, but I kept going.

Finally, we reached tree line - yeah!  Now it's FireBall's
turn to whine about the trail.  He hates the roots and mud,
whereas I prefer them tenfold over those blasted rock
fields.  On the way down we met StickFlipper and Snapshot.
They are a retired couple who thru-hiked in '95.  They must
be gluttons for punishment to return to the particular
section of trail :^)

After finally reaching the Osgood Tentsite, I flew over the
last 4.8 miles of the day.  It just felt so good to be back
on a trail where I could take full strides without fear of
falling.  I'd been feeling like a pretty pathetic excuse
for a hiker the past few days, but these last few miles
just made me feel like a strong hiker again.

We arrived at Pinkham Notch Visitors Center at 6pm with
one thought - A HOT SHOWER!  It's not quite the same when
you have to put your same old stinking hiker clothes back
on, but Lord, that hot water felt good!  With 30 minutes
of daylight left, we hiked a little while longer to find
a tent spot since I couldn't stay at the Visitor's Center
Lodge with Micah.  I love being able to climb into my
sleeping bag without having to hold my nose!

9/9 - Day 183
0 miles

The skies actually looked promising for a nice day when we 
awoke, but we decided not to hike today.  We're all tired
and sore, including Micah, and I'd like to give Micah's feet
a rest before we run into any injuries.

We packed up camp in record time and walked back to the
Pinkham Visitor Center.  Within 20 minutes we were able to
get a ride the 12 miles in to Gorham.  First stop, Libby
House B&B to get my pickup truck that we'd left in their
yard.  We visited with Maggie and Paul, the owners, a 
little while and I was glad to see Capetown Jenny in The
Barn as well.

We decided to stay at an affordable motel that would allow
dogs inside.  I wanted Micah to really get some rest and
he just doesn't relax well when I stay in hostels with a 
lot of people around.  There were a ton of hikers at The
Hikers' Paridise Hostel.  A lot of them were people I
thought I might never see again: Forest Fire, Geo, Bulldog,
Sourwood, The Swiss Family, and the Vermonsters (Grizzly,
Wiggly & Greenbean). I was so happy to find out that I
wasn't the only one who was reduced to a crawl through the

It felt good to talk to some of the other hikers and to 
discover that we all went through a lot of the same 
emotions, especially the women.  I now have this funny
picture in my mind - it's an aerial shot of the 
Presidential Ridge with various thru-hikers scattered
at half mile intervals along its length either sitting
on rocks crying or hitting the nearest rocks and boulders
with their hiking sticks.  It seems like the former tactic
is preferred by the females while the latter is mostly a
male thing.  We all find ways to deal with stress I guess,
but then five minues later, everybody picks themselves up
and moves on.

9/10 - Day 184
0 miles

We awoke to a downpour once again.  I just don't want to
hike in this crap anymore!  I want sunny skies and
beautiful views!  It seems like all through NH the
weather's been ugly.  I'm grateful for the few hours of
views I had back on Franconia Ridge, but other than that
and my day on the Twin Mtns, my image of The Whites is
just a swirling cloud mass.

Here's something to entertain.  I wish I could claim
authorship, but the honors go to Kahlena of the AT-L
newsgroup.  Thanks for making us all smile, Kahlena!

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my tent won't leak

The mice will let my pack alone
They won't chew in and make a home

The bears will leave my food bag be
And skunks will stay away from me

My boots will dry and my clothes too
And super'll taste better'n Goo

My dog won't whine or fart of snore
I'll see some views and won't be bored

The day will dawn sun-ny and clear
And some trail angel will give me....
a glass of milk

9/11 - Day 185
8.5 mi to Zeta Pass - 1848.6 cum

ANOTHER cloudy, drizzly day!  What is the deal?  They're
calling for rain tomorrow too :-(.  It's so hard to leave
a town when the weather's so nasty, but we did it.  I'm
pretty proud of us for it too.

The climb up Wildcat Mountain was a killer.  Micah
slipped once and fell against a rock hard enough to bring
out a yelp.  That was enough of a scare for me to carry
his pack the rest of the way up, which was not easy.  I
would hoist his pack a few feet above my head and then
scramble up the rocks and repeat the process.  I averaged
about 1/2 mph traveling this way, but I just had these
nightmare images of Micah falling on these slippery rocks
and really hurting himself.

Even though I started out at 8:30am, I only made 8.5 miles
today.  I probably could have pushed for a few more, but 
it was already almost 4pm when I spotted some nice areas
for tenting.  I was passed today by Rush, Mass, Hoof, 
Fugitive, and Meat Man.  They were all trying to do a 21
mile day over this stuff.  The latter 3 were slackpacking,
but Rush and Mass were doing it WITH packs.  We had all
stopped at the Carter Notch Hut for some hot drinks and 
these guys headed out at 1pm with 15 more miles to go!
They had started at 9am and it took them 4 hours to go 6
miles because the terrain was so tough.  They were facing
a very long day.  At least Rush and Mass could stop short
and set up camp since they had their gear.  The other 3
have no choice but to keep walking.

Here's a new term for you:  "skyblazing".  Some of the
hikers have been taking gondolas and ski lift rides up
to the tops of some of the mountains.  Wildcat had a
gondola ride for $3.50.  Now that's a bargain in anyone's
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