On Monday, June 12th, Arline got up extra early and had me on the Trail by 0545. She is a trooper!
At the beginning of the day’s hike, I stopped for a moment at Lonesome Lake, a very picturesque and popular day hike destination.
Afterwards, the Trail took me to Little Haystack, Lincoln and Mount Lafayette, which are all on the same ridge line. The highest of these peaks is Lafayette at 5260 feet; the ascent was slightly over 4000 feet. Although hard work, it was the best hiking day since I have been on the Trail. The views were spectacular and so beautiful that they are difficult to describe.
That night I stayed in Greenleaf Hut, 1.1 miles off the Trail, below the summit of Mt Lafayette. So Tuesday the 13th started out with a steep climb to the summit to get back on the Trail. Here’s a picture of Greenleaf Hut, taken from halfway between the Hut and the summit of Mt Lafayette.
At the summit, the weather conditions were very different than the previous day. Visibility was exceptionally poor, and the winds were 50mph with gusts up to 70mph.
At times, I couldn’t hold my trekking poles perpendicular to the ground. The wind was so powerful that I had to widen my gait to maintain my balance with the Beast on my back, which slowed my progress. I had to walk a ridge line for over a mile in these conditions and, for the first time, I heavily relied on cairns to determine my direction. It was a relief to finally get down to the tree line and be sheltered from the wind.
It took 9 hours to hike 7.7 miles. This was the first time I averaged less than a mile per hour for a hiking day. It was incredibly difficult. The Whites are living up to their reputation! My experience today reminded me of all the comments I’ve heard hikers make regarding the difficulty of hiking New Hampshire.
Finally I arrived at Galehead Hut. Below is the Hut and the view you see when sitting on the front porch.
It was 39 degrees the morning of Wednesday the 14th, with incredibly clear visibility. I could see the sun peeking over a mountain and just knew it was going to be a great day.
When staying at an AMC Hut, each morning the hikers listen avidly to the official weather report from the weather station at Mt. Washington. This is how I knew the wind and gust speed when I climbed Mt. Lafayette. The weather report for today was very good, and visibility on top of Mt. Washington was 130 miles. It would have been a great day to be up there. However, I have other mountains to hike first. But as predicted, the weather and views were excellent today.
The highest peak you see in this picture is Mt. Lafayette, where I hiked in ridiculous wind speeds and clouds yesterday. To the right of the peak you can see the mile-long ridge line that I had to hike before receiving refuge from the tree line. I took this picture from Mt Garfield.
During the day I stopped and had lunch at Mount Guyot.
After a long day of hiking it was nice to soak my feet in a cold mountain stream.
That night I stayed at the Zealand Falls Hut. Here is a picture of the Hut and my front porch view.
Most thru-hikers have voracious appetites. I humbly admit that I fall into that category! The last time I was in a town, I ordered a 16-inch pizza with everything on it (including three meats). I ate the whole thing, plus 2 cokes, and ordered ice cream for dessert. This is not unusual for thru-hikers. At breakfast the morning of Thursday the 15th, I was the only thru-hiker at the table. Three women, who were hiking for a week or so, had stayed at the same huts I had for the previous two nights. After watching me eat those days, they suggested I change my Trail name from “The Old Guy” to “Hoover.” We had a good laugh! I’ve lost 18 pounds since I began hiking in April. You burn off a million calories with these hikes; you are always hungry; and you can’t eat enough.
Thursday was a rather easy hike to Crawford Notch, the easiest so far in the Whites. Here are a couple of pictures along that stretch.
When I arrived at Crawford Notch (NH route 302), I hitchhiked to a lodge about 3.5 miles away so I could have a bite to eat, including ice cream. Arline met me there and drove back to her condo in Lincoln.
It was enjoyable to spend a zero with my sister on Friday as I prepared to resume the Trail the next morning. Next I will begin the ascent toward the Presidential Range. This ridge line includes Mounts Eisenhower, Franklin, Monroe, Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Madison. All these peaks are above tree line and totally exposed. The lowest elevation of this range is Eisenhower at 4760 feet. All the others are in excess of 5000 feet, with Washington topping them all at 6288 feet. If things go according to plan, it will take me 5 days to get through the Presidentials and to Carter Notch. Then I will be approximately 30 miles from the Maine border. This stretch will definitely be a challenge.
Unfortunately on Friday I also realized that one of my teeth was loose. Arline drove me to Concord, about 60 miles away, to see a dentist. Arline has been so supportive. Between bringing Diane to and from the airport in Manchester, meeting me at several trail heads, going to Mt Washington and bringing me today to Concord and back, I believe she has driven about 1,000 miles.
Friday night, Arline prepared another great lobster, sausage, steamer and corn on the cob dinner. What a sister! Arline and Diane have made my NH experience far better than it otherwise would have been. Without them, I am not sure I would have continued on the Trail. Thanks to both of you. This “Old Guy” could not ask for a more supportive wife or sister.
My main concern right now is the horrible extended weather forecast for this area. The last month has been unbelievably rainy, from MA through VT and now NH. I hope this changes because it’s very discouraging. I am unhappy hiking to elevation in rain and unsafe conditions and not even getting to enjoy the view. But still, I feel that I have to get back on the Trail.