It rained all through the night leading into Saturday, June 24th. By morning, it was misting, and I hiked in and out of the clouds. My goal was to tackle Mount Carter.
As I began my climb, I passed this pond. Blue skies and sunshine would have improved the view.
On South Carter, I met a family on a day hike. They were very friendly, and the mom shared some peanut butter and crackers and a huge cucumber. After this Trail Magic, the sun came out, turning a not-so-good day into a much better one. These pics are from South Carter Mountain.
The descent of Mount Carter was incredibly steep and extremely difficult. There are so many difficult ascents and descents it is difficult to rank them, but this one was pretty high on the list. Here are some views from Mount Carter.
I met several SOBOs that day and in the days prior. The percentage of successful SOBO thru-hikers is significantly higher than successful NOBO thru-hikers. I think it’s because, when starting in Maine and NH, hikers are exposed to significant challenges and immediately realize just how difficult the Trail will be. I think SOBOs are more prepared, physically and mentally.
That night, I stayed at Imp Shelter. Mr. or Mrs. Imp must have had Trail connections, as there is also an Imp Trail off the AT.
The morning of the 25th was cold, but the sun was brightly shining. This has not happened in quite some time, and I was treated to beautiful views while climbing Mount Moriah.
The wonderfully sunny hiking day brightened my rain-drenched spirits. My next stop was the White Mountains Lodge and Hostel. This hostel was immaculately clean and run by a Marine Corps vet, Eric, who is knowledgeable and helpful to hikers.
Five minutes after arrival, it began to rain, and didn’t stop for several hours. I was so glad not to be caught in that downpour!
While at the White Mountains Lodge and Hostel, I met an amazing hiker: Skippy John Jones. Last year he kayaked 2500 miles, mainly on the Mississippi River, then biked across the U.S. Now he is hiking the AT. He is not a NOBO, SOBO or flip-flopper; he is a YOYO. A YOYO is an AT hiker who completes the AT (which Skippy completed several weeks ago in Maine), turns around and thru-hikes the AT again in the opposite direction. Skippy John Jones is simply an amazing physical machine. He told me he also spent some time in Australia doing things most people wouldn’t (and probably couldn’t) do. I wondered where his source of income came from to do all of this, and he told me that he made a lot of money from Blackwater and retired. Now 35 years old, he will have completed the AT twice before I complete it once!! He told me there is at least one other YOYO presently on the Trail. This is truly incredible.
My feet and, more specifically, my toes and the balls of my feet, have been numb with pins and needles. This began earlier in NH and I know it’s due to the constant pounding of descents and the increased pressure of ascents. I get some relief from ibuprofen, and I know what my doctor would recommend. But I want to finish this trek! Other thru-hikers have told me that this is not uncommon. Other than my feet, the rest of my body has been holding up well.
I took a zero on the 26th, but on Tuesday the 27th, I hiked 12 miles to Gentian Pond Shelter. It was unfortunately a cloudy day.
Most shelters are tucked away in the woods without a view. So I was pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by this view from Gentian Pond Shelter.
About an hour after I took this picture of Gentian Pond, storm clouds rolled in. A huge bolt of lightning struck, followed by an ear-splitting crack of thunder and 10 minutes of hail! It was quite a farewell: this was my last night in New Hampshire.
I started Wednesday the 28th with high hopes of getting a lot accomplished, but the Trail had different ideas. Hiking was unbelievably difficult and rugged. These pictures can appear so serene, but the reality of the Trail is a different story.
I took a spill, but fortunately only banged up my arm. One particular descent was just indescribably awful. It was very easy to get hurt; a woman who was with me at a shelter that night told me she fell and slid 10 feet on that descent. My original goal today had been to proceed another 4.5 miles to the next shelter. But the rugged hiking, combined with that impossible descent, made me call it a day.
Right before that crazy descent, I passed this sign.
Welcome to Maine.