Fast and Slow: Days 53-69

Mile 627.9 – 847.6, 6/23/19 – 7/9/19

Day 53: 3 miles

VT RT. 100 to Bromley Mountain

The day began very early in Chicago, with a flight to Boston and then a long drive back to Vermont. My brother Tim dropped me off at the parking lot where I’d gotten off trail around 5 pm. It was a pretty quick and easy 3 miles up to the top of Bromley Mountain, which was good because the next few days I knew I’d be speeding up in order to catch up with my trail fam. At the top of Bromley there’s a ski warming hut that hikers are allowed to stay in. There was a big family who were hiking the Long Trail staying in it though, so I decided to tent so I could get up early and not wake them up. Beautiful sunset.

Day 54: 26.7 miles

Bromley Mountain to Minerva Hinchley Shelter

The long miles to catch up with my trail family begins! I got up at 4 this morning and was on trail by 4:40 or so, meaning color was coming into the sky just as I started hiking.

To be honest with you, I didn’t write on my journal for these fast days until days after, so I don’t remember a whole lot. I did take pictures though, so I’ll let them tell the story of my marathon day.

Day 55: 23.7 miles

Minerva Hinchley Shelter to VT RT 100 (Killington, VT)

Again, didn’t write on this day, so don’t remember the big details. But the highlights: woke up at 4 again and had another nice sunrise, then it was rain all day. At the bottom of Killington Mountain, saw T, No Service, and Mustang, who I last saw in Pennsylvania. They are still a hoot. Hiked up Killington on the rain. At the shelter at the top, decided I really wanted a dry bed, so called the Killington Motel and reserved a room. Walked to the road crossing, walked to the motel and got a pizza and salad for dinner.

Day 56: 23.1 miles

Killington, VT to stealth site

Woke up feeling just not good, nauseous and weak. So I had a pretty slow time getting out of the hotel. Had breakfast (a very small one since I didn’t have an appetite) with Frank the cat and then got a ride back to the trail from the motel owner. Was on trail around 9. I originally was planning on trying to go 28 miles and just night hike, but right around 9 pm a thunderstorm came up, so I put my tent up in the first flat spot I could find and went to bed. Ended up feeling bad all day, but was on track to catch up with the trail fam in Hanover the next day, since they were zeroing there.

Day 57: 20.5 miles

Stealth site to Hanover, NH

Woke up feeling even worse than yesterday. The first few climbs in the morning were really bad. I cried my way up most of them. My bad time was probably from a combination of physical exhaustion from doing miles much bigger than I was used to, not eating enough, and (potential TMI) the fact that my period started yesterday. Add on top of that the emotional exhaustion I was feeling from the reason I got off trail, and it ended up being probably my worst time on trail.

I called Twinkletoes a few miles into my hike, just to make sure they would be in Hanover when I got there, because otherwise I probably would have just given up right then and stopped for the rest of the day. When he asked how I was doing my answer was something along the line of “fucking awful.” So I really was not feeling too hot. Twinkletoes texted me and told me to make sure to stop at a house about 9 miles before Hanover, where there was a trail angel who gives out sodas to hikers. A soda didn’t really sound that appealing to me (again, just no appetite), but I figured the calories would probably be good for me. When I got to the house, I found not only a soda, but also Salty, Hotman, and Twinkletoes waiting for me! They had hitched from Hanover back to the house so they could take my pack and let me slackpack the last 9 miles into Hanover. I can’t express how nice it was to see them, and Buckles later! Crossing into New Hampshire was satisfying, but not as much as catching up to my friends.

Also, take a look at this great picture Hotman and Twinkletoes took their first night in Hanover.

Day 58: 8.5 miles

Hanover, NH to stealth site

This morning we did laundry, resupplied, had lunch at an Indian restaurant, got ice cream at a food co-op, and then finally left town around 2. We hiked to a cool stealth spot by a stream, where we had wine with our dinner that Hotman had valiantly hiked out. Still not feeling 100%, but a shorter day and being back with friends definitely helped.

Day 59: 14.8 miles

Stealth site to Smarts Mtn Fire Warden’s Cabin

Left camp in the mist and headed to Moose Mtn Shelter, where we all used the privy and had a second breakfast. At the shelter, saw the British boys, Cinnamon Ricky and Nick, who I last saw in Unionville, NY. They had acquired a new friend, a NOBO named Turbo.

After that, we made the long trek up to the top of Smarts Mtn, where we got some great views from the fire tower. By the time Salty, Hotman, and I had gotten there, Twinkletoes and Buckles had already come and gone, but we decided to stay the night at the fire warden’s cabin that served as a fancy, four-sided shelter. The British boys and Turbo decided they wanted to stay the night in the fire tower, even though there was a thunderstorm in the forecast. They are henceforth known as the Mad Lads.

Day 60: 0 miles

I woke up feeling really crappy again. Could barely stomach one oatmeal packet. Add on the fact that it was raining and gross outside, and Hotman and Salty and I decided that a zero in the woods sounded like a wonderful idea. It was a very relaxing day, mostly involving sleeping on my part. Lots of people came and went throughout the day, including Joy, who I hiked with for a little bit in PA. She’s now hiking with another flip-flopper named Sleeves.

Day 61: 20.1 miles

Smarts Mtn Fire Warden’s Cabin to Wachipauka Pond

Finally left the cabin that had almost become our home. Nice weather and nice views to Wachipauka Pond that had tentsites along the shore. Saw a big frog.

Day 62: 7.8 miles

Wachipauka Pond to Beaver Brook Shelter

We hiked the short distance to a road crossing, where there was the Hikers Welcome Hostel. We got a small amount of resupply there, and then watched two movies, including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off which Hotman had never seen. We ended up spending like 4 and a half hours there.

Then up Moosilauke! Officially in the Whites now, it was a pretty hard hike up to the top, but beautiful. It was the first time I’ve gone above treeline on this trip, so we got great views.

We headed to the shelter just partly down the mountain, where we met oir first SOBOs!

Day 63: 13 miles

Beaver Brook Shelter to Kinsman Pond Shelter

It was a hard descent down Moosilauke. The mile or so down took us about an hour and a half to do. Just lots of slippery rocks and bad footings. Then it was up Kinsman Mountain. The trail up Kinsman required a lot of climbing on my part. They definitely did not make this trail Valkyrie-sized.

Kinsman Pond Shelter is right by a nice lake situated between two mountains. At around 11 Hotman and I left our warm sleeping bags to go take a look at the stars over the lake. They were pretty amazing.

Day 64: 7.5 miles

Kinsman Pond Shelter to Liberty Springs Campsite

In the morning we headed down into Franconia Notch. At the Visitor Center, we got a ride into Lincoln, NH. We are McDonald’s, resupplied, and then watched the 4th of July parade.

We probably took too long to get back to trail, but when we finally did, we hiked the a few steep miles up to Liberty Springs Campsite. When we got there, the place was super full! The caretaker was great though, she found Salty space on a tent platform where he could fit his tent. Hotman and I ended up cowboy camping on a tent platform between random strangers’ tents. It was weird but kind of fun too. The caretaker told us this was the most people she’s had all summer, with the first ones showing up at 8:30am!

Day 65: 13.1 miles

Liberty Springs Campsite to Guyot Shelter

Up to Franconia Ridge in the morning, where we had a long walk above treeline while we summited Mt Lincoln and Mt Lafeyette. The views were beautiful but there were just so many people up there (it’s advertised as one of the best day hiked in America) that by the time I got to the top of Lafeyette I couldn’t stay for more than a few minutes before I had to get going, just to get away from all the people.

After going down from the ridge, we then had to go back up to Mt Garfield, where we took a nap on the summit, in the shade cast by the remains of the foundations of an old fire tower. While we were lounging, Joy and Sleeves passed by, marking the second time they’ve seen us just relaxing, and not actually hiking.

We finally headed down the mountain, past Galehead Hut, and up and over South Twin Mountain. We stayed at Guyot Shelter, which was a crazy .8 miles off trail, but still pretty cool.

Day 66: 9 miles

Guyot Shelter to Ethan Pond Shelter

Had a moderately easy walk to Zealand Hut, which is good because we didn’t get out of camp until like 10. We definitely have gotten lazier in the Whites, or they’re just much harder. We’re doing shorter miles and sleeping in more.

At Zealand Hut, we got our free bowls of soup (comes with the AMC thru-hiked card you can get in the Whites). We also soaked our feet in the falls by the hut. Joy and Sleeves were there for lunch too, but they left much sooner than us, because, again, we’ve gotten very lazy. I left before the boys did. About 2 miles into my 5 miles hike, it started pouring. It was a pretty major thunderstorm, so I hiked those last 3 miles to Ethan Pond Shelter really fast, getting there just as the rain ended. Of course. Salty and Hotman came in a short while after me. It was really lucky we were down low for the storm, and not up on a ridge. This ended up being our only rain in the Whites!

Day 67: 9.3 miles

Ethan Pond Shelter to Nauman Campsite

It was an easy downhill walk to Rt 302, where we got a hitch into the Highland Center, an AMC visitor center/hotel thing. Our thru-hiker card got us $6 beer, bread and bowl of soup, so we enjoyed that, plus the ability to charge stuff and the wifi. We probably spent a good 3 hours there.

Then it was uphill to Mt Webster and Mt Jackson, where we got our first good views of all the stuff on Mt. Washington we could see the cog train making its way up the mountain! Then down to Nauman Campsite.

Day 68: 14.8 miles

Nauman Campsite to Osgood Tentsite

From Nauman, we headed up another long stretch of ridge line walking above treeline as we headed towards Mt Washington, going over or skirting around numerous other peaks as the trail directed. Awesome views!

At Lake of the Clouds Hut, we took a short break before heading up to the peak of Washington. Huge crowds up there to go along with the huge views. Got a pretty bad slice of pizza and an okay chili dog for lunch, where Hotman overheard some other Danish people discussing pineapple pizza.

Did not take a picture of myself at the summit sign, but did take a picture of the line at the summit sign.

Then more ridge walking down to madison Springs Hut. Had another break there, then up and over Mt Madison. Not sure if it was because it was the end of the day, but Madison was really hard. Both up and down a lot if it wasn’t actually trail, just rocks to pick your own path on. Then a steep descent to Osgood Tentsite, where we set up tents almost in the dark.

Day 69: 4.7 miles

Osgood Tentsite to Pinkham Notch

It was a quick few miles down to Pinkham Notch, where Hotman bought a hat. We hitched into Gorham, where we had our obligatory McDonald’s. While at Micky-D’s, we saw Twinkletoes and Buckles! Buckles was technically two days ahead, from another road crossing into Gorham, but Twinkletoes was even with us. Apparently he, and at least one other thru-hiker, had gotten sick from the chili dogs on Mt. Washington, so he had taken a few zeros in town. We invited him to our hotel, which we went to after we resupplied.

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