August, 2011 Archives

After the rain

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After holing up in Gorham, NH for a few days waiting for the White Mountains to open up again we were off again to finish off the remaining mountains in the park. Next were Wildcat and Carter Mountains which brought you above treeline several times for views of Washington as it gets smaller and smaller in the rear view window.

Back in Gorham I had impeccable timing as I happened to visit Welsh’s Cafe just in time for their Sunday brunch which included carving station, omelet bar, and Belgian waffles not to mention the lounge singer softly belting out the hits from back in the corner.

Just before leaving Gorham you hit a stretch along the Rattle River which I enjoyed immensely. I an staying the night at Gentian Pond Shelter and tomorrow (Thursday) I will be in Maine staring down the place I have heard more about than anywhere else on the trail (Mahoosuc Notch).

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Post hurricane hike

Lionel’s Sculptured Head

Dead Presidents

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What a ridiculous day. I stealth camped just before Crawford
Notch knowing that rain was coming. Got rained on just before dark and found myself digging ditches to divert the flow of water from going under my tent. Woke up wet and unhappy but started off toward the Presidential range at around 7:30am. Crossed route 302 and started up an empty Mt. Webster. I had an 11 mile day on my mind up to Lake in the Clouds Hut but knew in the back of my mind that a hurricane was bearing down and above treeline 5000 feet up was no place to be. Made my way and paused first at Webster Cliffs which were a flat slab of rock with a matted down sandy platform overlooking a valley and a parallel mountain range shrouded in early morning clouds. I kept moving up and over these ridges and mountaintops which initially wound through pine trees to eventually give way to fully exposed 360 degree views. These views were amazing the whole day as Mount Washington towered over the entire days hike. I basically had the day to myself up there as I didn’t see my first person until just after noon.

I stopped in at Mitzpah Hut to get some leftover baked goods and spoke with the girl who worked there. She informed me that White Mountain National Park was going to be closed on Saturday at 6pm. Since it was such a nice and clear day I had entertained the idea of pushing on to soak in a large portion of the range but this information pushed me along. I rolled out of Mitzpah and climbed Pierce and Franklin with more ridiculous views of the range ahead. By this time Mt. Washington was completely out from under cloud cover so it was a spectacular site.

Got to Lake in the Clouds and ran into Radio and Strawberry who got a ride over a portion of the last stretch. I was at Lakes at around 3pm and picked up a few more baked goods. Climbed up the intensely rocky mountain surface up to the summit of Mt. Washington 1.6 miles up. Paused here and took in the surroundings with the tourist mobs.

Kept rolling along toward Madison Hut where the terrain turned into boulder hopping and the views turned into something out of Lord of the Rings where Mt. Adams towered over a deep, shadowy crevase as the retreating sun played shadow games with me the rest of the walk down to Madison Hut which I rolled into at 7:30 to find several hikers including an old friend Pancho already in place. I descended down and assumed that all the photo takers standing outside the hut were snapping shots of the sunset but came to find out that their lenses were pointed towards a moose grazing on the trees alongside the hut.

Our work for stay at Madison consisted of regalling the guests with our tales of the Appalachian Trail. Afterwards we got our fill of honey buns, brownies, breads, pumpkin-curry soup, pesto pasta, etc… As we closed out the night the sky produced such robust stars that you even saw what appeared to be star dust as every available inch of sky was crammed full of stars. Saw about a dozen stars to close our a day that will live on in my memories.

Damn those Beautiful Presidents

Washington Bound

Well there was some rain last night and my tent positioning was such that I spent a nice amount of time digging ditches to divert the water runoff around my tent however I will still have a lot of drying out to do today.

After about 7 miles yesterday I paused at Zealand Falls Hut to see about the rest of the days weather and the walk ahead. The sky looked ominous but not terrible and today was supposed to be much better weatherwise and the stretch between Zealand and Crawford Notch was some of the flattest I have seen since PA so I decided to push on.

I am just over 10 miles from Lakes of the Clouds Hut which sits just below the peak of Mount Washington. I am sitting at the base so today I will enter the Presidential Mountain Range passing Webster, Jackson, Pierce (Clinton), and Franklin mountains on my way up to the 6,288 ft peak of Mt. Washington.

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The Presidentials

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Franconia Ridge, are you kidding me?

Oh my what a day. After breakfast and the moose sighting I hit the trail at around 10am. First stop was the top of a 4800 ft mountain called Little Haystack which set off one of the most beautiful stretches I have seen, the Franconia Ridge. The initial climb was a monster and throughout the day I was up and down from 5000 feet more times than I can count. I am currently at Galehead Hut under the wailing wind turbine on the roof. I am loving the system of Huts through the Whites. They are all run off the grid using the natural resources available to their respective locations. They all run off solar power while Galehead uses wind power and tomorrows hut, Zealand Falls, uses a generator to capture the power of the water falling alongside it.

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Franconia ridge is fantastic with views of the trail up and over a succession of monstrous mountains. I may have pushed it a bit too far today but a storm is expected tomorrow and the thought of some of those treacherous downhills with a layer of rain on top is downright scary so I wanted to leave myself the option for a short one. My body is wearing down through this range and I find myself a bit nervous being alone in some spots due to the potentially disastrous results but the Whites are a very enjoyable stretch.

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