New Hampshire – Maine
I first wanted to start out by saying thanks to all my friends and family who have helped support me this far along the way. This post is a little late and overdue but I figure late is better than never. I also didn’t realize that people were actually following; it was a great feeling to hear from people that had been following the blog.
Currently I am en route to finish the sections that I missed due to the Stress fracture in my left foot. Up to this point I just have the latter section of Maine (Bear Mountain Area New York) and (Section in NJ)
Since Vermont the trail had just gotten better. Leaving Hanover New Hampshire our party knew that we were on the cusp of something big, it was only days before we would be hitting the Whites. The White Mountains cover roughly 25% of New Hampshire. They are known by many to be the hardest and most rugged mountains of New England. In New Hampshire there are 48 peaks that are over 4,000 on the trail we do many of them and often we don’t summit each individual peak but hike the sides of them. IMO most of the peaks of the “white mountains” aren’t really mountains but high points on the ridge of a very spectacular and large Mount Washington.
Jake (Solisberry Hill) and I set out of Hanover, New Hampshire, the home of Dartmouth. While walking out we ran into 65. He is a 73 year old man who set out on his journey from Florida and had made it all the way to the Mahoosuc notch and called it quits. With knowing how bad the mountains had torn up 65s body I was a little nervous about what was to come. The first days out weren’t too bad we hiked over mountains but nothing that was going to be as tall, steep, and aggressive as the Whites. Our entrance into the White Mountains was signified by a large Mount Moosilauke, when you look at the elevation map you want to cringe, but Hair, Solisberry Hill, Octo and I started out in the morning we had no problems making it to the top. On the summit we were surrounded by the Dartmouth freshmen who joined their Dartmouth outdoor club. After Moosilauke we went into North Woodstock due to the nasty storm that was coming overnight. The next day Hook and I left out We made it all the way to Garfield pond. The next day we only went a short distance and stopped at Galehead hut. This section of the AT is unique because there is a system of huts usually six to eight miles apart, the huts are run and managed by Appalachian Mountain Club. These huts are rented out but when hikers come thru they often would let us do a work for stay and food. We had heard about the AMC Huts and decided to take a shot at getting a work for stay sure enough they had some work for us and gave us leftover Turkey Carvings, Gravy, and Mashed Potatoes.
You state fans will like this, that afternoon I just happened to talk to a guy who played high school football with Dan Mullen and also knew Chip. He is one of Dan’s buddies who surprised him last year at the Alabama – State game.
Over the next few days we covered a series of rugged mountains passed beautiful streams and waterfalls like none other. This is the point in the trail where things go from good to awesome. At this point our party is comprised of Hook, Gator, Sols, and me. We had no real problems or obstacles until we got to the beginning of Mount Washington. This was a stretch started off by Webster Cliffs, it ended up being a barrier for us to break, we took a zero day at the base of Webster, and then the next day we were pummeled by rain, finally after three days the rain receded and we started our journey up the mountain.
The hike up Mount Washington wasn’t easy but definitely ended up being much less of a challenge than expected. Like Mount Lafayette that we had previously hiked Washington was comprised of exposed ridgeline and heavy winds. I could let my poles hang from my wrists and they would almost be perpendicular to my body.
Side note* On the day we were making our final hike to the top of Washington we were split up. Hook was in the lead like he usually is, I was in the middle and Hair, Gator, and Rudy (The Dog) were behind. At some point Rudy had run ahead to check on Hook and I as he usually does and got slightly lost. Gator and Hair are hiking thinking that he had come ahead with me and they get to the side trail that leads to Mt. Monroe. A lady comes down and they ask her if she had seen a white pit bull, she immediately says “yes, I just passed him on the way up as I was hiking down Monroe” He ended up bagging Mt. Monroe. We like to joke around and say that Rudy wanted his own time on a peak all to himself.
The Beginning of Maine wasn’t what we expected; we get to Maine sick, wet, and tired of the trail. In our minds I guess we looked at the elevation chart and thought it would be a walk in the park, well contrary to what we thought the elevation in the beginning of Maine wasn’t ridiculous but all the muddy swampy areas were. It was almost felt as a daily task to keep your feet out of the quicksandish mud. We finally made it to Full Goose Shelter which is the shelter the day before the Mahoosuc Notch and Arm. These two features in Maine the Notch notably is declared by some the hardest mile on the Appalachian Trail. Not only did we dominate the Notch and Arm we made it into Grafton notch. Thank goodness for Maine hospitality as we were on the verge of darkness we walked out of the woods to hitch and sure enough the first truck that passes by stops and gives us a ride to town. The next day we were able to make it into Andover where had a friend who let us stay at his place for a night. That night we heard of good news, Big Red our long lost friend from the trail who had gotten off two months prior was heading up to Maine to help slack pack us and support us to the end. Once Red got there we did a few days of slack packing. It was great to have Red back because he helped to curve our pessimism. I hate to say it but it is a total reality of the trail, you’re near the end almost out of money and your body is experience new pains that you’ve never thought you could have. The slack pack made it to Caratunk, but once we got there Big Red had decided to get back home. At this point I had been off of my foot for a few days due to a stress fracture. I tried the day before we left to hike and I could only make it 5 miles, I was in pain and knew that I could probably keep hiking feeling each step but I would chance actually breaking my foot thus leaving me incapable of finishing. I made a decision to get of the trail let my foot rest for a few weeks and finish the AT well rested and healthy.