Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 140: Goodbye August, Goodbye Whites...

Slept in in the bunk house. Having a pillow is so nice! We four (Boss, Rorshach, Wilbur, and I) walked over to the hut for leftover breakfast, and there was a bunch of food. Thick chocolate chip pancakes, oatmeal and a few peaches. It was good and plenty.

Soon after breakfast, we were on our way. Wilbur left early, and Rorshach was going to take a swim in the pond before leaving. Boss and I stopped by the pond to take a few photos before beginning the steep climb up to Carter Dome. And it was steep. Too early in the morning (and too much breakfast in our bellies) for such a climb! And it never ended. Right when I thought I must be close to the top, it just kept going. And it was warm and sunny. Hot even. And there was no breeze. It was a pretty tough, steep climb for full stomachs and bright sun and no breeze until the top. But we made it. We'd only gone 1.2 miles.

We descended the north side and enjoyed the breeze on the way down, checked out the 360 degree views of Height mountain, then gradually we started back up to South Carter. We had a lunch break on the trail with heaps of peanut butter and got back to climbing. We met southbounder Low Step and day hiker Jason before catching up to Wilbur. After Middle and South Carter, Boss and I were pretty tired. We took a break to get water at Imp campsite and then began our last mountain in the whites. Moriah.

Moriah teased us with false summits and long slabs of rock face, but we made it up there and reveled in the beauty all around us. How did we luck out with such amazing weather almost all the way through the Whites?! (yes, we've heard that hurricane Earl is on the way... Ugh)

The descent from Moriah was steep at the beginning, and then just long. My knees were hurting again with so much downhill the end of the day. We finally ran into the Rattle River shelter and dropped our bags. It was just the time to stop walking for the day, even though it was only 5:15pm.

There was a group of high schoolers camping up the hill, and they went down to the river for a dip. Boss and I cleaned up a bit in the river and rinsed some of our clothes in preparation for doing laundry tomorrow in Gorham the first laundry in 11days. Can. Not. Wait.

Wilbur showed up, and we three ate dinner together. A mother and daughter arrived and shared fresh fruit with us. The mom (Clickity Clack) thru hiked in 1997 with her husband, and the daughter (10 years old) plans to thru hike someday. The pears they gave us were SO GOOD! Thanks Clack!

Time for bed. Into Gorham tomorrow!! I miss the whites already....
(13.3mi 5st)

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Rattle River Shelter

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 139: Whoopsie

Woke up lazily, but was hiking by 8am. It would be only 5 miles to the NH AMC headquarters, where there is a snack bar and coin-operated showers. We wouldn't stay there, but a quick shower after 6 days of hiking sounded great.

The signage in the Whites hasn't been too great, and the white blazes have been VERY sparse. We are used to the AT being the main trail, but it isn't so up here. Some of the signs don't even say where the AT goes. It can be confusing.

Soooooo... Somehow we went from the Madison Gulf Trail to the Great Gulf Trail without knowing it, and we ended up going the wrong way... For 2.6 miles until we hit a parking lot with a map. Ugh!!! Since I've remained a purist until now (I've hiked every foot of trail, in order, South-North, with my full pack on), this was a big deal. But I didn't want to hike back up even though the path was quite pleasant and followed the river, and it was another gorgeous day. We could've hitched up to meet the trail, but what about those miles I'd miss? Are a few miles really that important? Did it matter now that I was only 330 miles from the end?! I was bummed.

With convincing from Boss, we back-tracked. It was clearly the only solution and the only way I wouldn't be down on myself. 5.2 extra miles in the day wasn't horrible, and of all the 5.2 miles to backtrack, these were not that bad. And , like I wrote, it was a beautiful day!

Back at the sign where we went wrong, we silently cursed the confusing arrows and continued on the way we were meant to hike. We took a short snack break and got water. It was 11am, and, as far as the AT was concerned, we'd only gone a mile. But then Deetz/PP/Miles caught up! A nice plus side to our side trail adventure.

We told them all about our unfortunate goof, and they said they almost did the same thing. We hiked on with them and Prophet until we glided into the AMC center. Boss ate lunch while I took a 6-minute $2 shower. Got the hair washed! Felt good.

I ate a sandwich and a few treats from Miles before bringing my Platypus water bladder into the outfitter in the center. There's been a hole that I've sealed up, but I called the customer service who said it was covered by warranty, so I got me a brand new platypus!! And it's so much cleaner than my old one. High point of the day....?

After hanging out at the center for over an hour, weighing our packs (mine was just over 33 lbs with two liters of water and two full days of food - not bad!), and eating a bunch, the six of us (me, Boss, Miles, Deetz, Power Pack, Prophet) took off for one of the most challenging climbs on the trail. Pinkham Notch. It was steep. Rock climbing, hand-over-hand type stuff. Very tiring, but also a lot of fun.

There were nice views along the way that made it easy to stop to breathe every so often. We climbed that crazy, steep Wildcat mountain and eventually hit peaks E and D before taking a short break at the ski lift, which was operating. Then onto C (ugh) and B and then finally A. Joyous!! From peak A, it was only .9 miles to the next hut. It was getting late, so we wanted to make sure to get there soon. It was a very steep, slow downhill though, so we had to be careful. It took a while, but Boss and I got there at 6:30. And we're not sure why that mountain is called Wildcat, but it may be because you looked like you've been scratched up when you're done with it. The trail is a bit overgrown with branches all over. It would be difficult to avoid them.

There was work-for-stay available and we could stay in the bunkhouse AND Rorshach was there! Hadn't seen him since Hanover. But also, Wilbur was there?!? I hadn't seem him since Fontana Dam - right before the Smokies. Blast from the past!

We all caught up in the bunkhouse until the guests were finished eating. We got a delicious meal of chicken, rice, soup, peas, cheesy bread and apple spice cake. It was really, really good. And the croo (Michelle, Ben, Lucinda) were very cool. Unfortunatly, our work was trying to clean the drying racks for all the plates/bowls/cups. It seemed an impossible task with the tools we were given, but Boss, Wilbur and I gave it our best shots. After two hours of scrubbing, our hands were pruney, and the trays looked only marginally better than before we began. They were disinfected though! We'd done our best, and we were tired.

After a quick chat with Michelle and Ben, we all hit the sack in the bunkhouse (what a treat!). This means we get to sleep in a bit in the morning. Should be nice.
(10.7mi (+5.2!?) 5st)

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Carter Notch Hut

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day 138: Mount Washington

I woke up briefly at 5:27am when someone opened the door to the dungeon. It was all clouds. Couldn't see 10 feet! Then I noticed that there was someone sleeping on the floor. Odd. I went back to sleep until past 7am. Since we weren't doing work-for-stay or sleeping in the dining room, we got to sleep in. It was almost worth the ten bucks alone.

By the time I got up, Uncas had left, and the three guys who came in after 10pm were packing up. They got in late and one of them crashed on the floor. Boss and I made breakfast and made our way up the hill to Mount Washington around 9am. It was really warm, but the wind was very strong.

It was a nice boulder climb up to the peak of Washington that took about 45 minutes. Hello world! The day was sunny and almost cloudless. There were tons of tourists up there by way of the train or the auto road, but there were a few hikers as well. We took a few photos at the summit sign then looked around the museum at the Tip Top room. Next was the cafe. We each had a bowl of chili and cookies. Boss also had a hot dog and a Coke. We charged our phones (no good cell service - still!) and wrote a few post cards before eating more. I had a piece of pizza. Boss had two pieces of pizza, an ice cream sandwich and an orange soda. (I enjoy mentioning just how much food this guy eats.) On the way back to our packs, we got sandwiches for dinner and I got a hot chocolate. We spent a lot of money up there.

Right when we were about to leave, Deetz, Power Pack and Miles showed up. Yay friends!! We caught up with them and heard about their fantastic side trail excursion to the Bonds. I didn't expect them to catch us so quickly, but I was glad they did. I'll have to return to the Whites at some point to check out that side trail. It sounded phenomenal.

Boss and I said goodbye to "the family" then went to take a few more photos at the sign before beginning our descent. A few clouds had rolled in and were breezing right through us. It was cool and looked very dramatic. The wind was amazingly strong. Back at the visitor center, the weather report said the average wind speed was 33mph with gusts up to 69 mph. Those gusts are powerful! We were walking on rocks, trying the balance and predict the wind by leaning into it, but it was too difficult to maintain a constant balance. It was fun, but I got blown over a few times...

Luckily for us, the AT skirted around a few peaks. We didn't have to summit Jefferson, Monroe, or Eisenhower. There was still climbing, but it wasn't too bad. It was a stunning day, and we stopped a bunch to take photos. LOTS of rocks. It was like we were back in Pennsylvania.

Finally we made it to the Madison hut for a bowl of hot soup. It was delicious, and the croo was very cool. Thanks Tom! Buttons caught up and ate with us, and we soon pressed on the three miles to the Osgood tent site. We went up and over Madison mountain, which was fairly steep, but the wind on top was brutal! We were so lucky it was warm weather. I can't believe I didn't lose my visor (which was strapped on extra tight).

After the summit, on which it was hard to stand straight up, we began the steep, rocky descent. It took us two hours to go three miles. We had to be very careful, but it was worth it. Most of the rocks were quite bumpy and full of friction - good for footing, bad for falling on. It was tricky with the wind, but we managed without falling. (well, I unintentionally "sat down" at one point, but I don't think it counts as a fall...)

Down down down hill until the tent site. Finally! We were both ready to crash, and we did pretty quickly. Got water, ate dinner, bed. Tomorrow may include a shower!!!
(10.1mi 8st)

Location:Osgood Tentsite

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 137: Aw Huts

Up and at 'em and packed up before 8am. Papa Foot, Boss and I headed over to the general store for a few breakfast sandwiches which hit the spot. The forecast for the rest of the week looks amazing. We ran into Uncas again and the Canadian Geese (Carol and Richard), and Papa Foot gave everyone a ride to the trail. Thanks, Fred!

Soon, Boss and I took off to get started on the mountain. It was tough. LOTS of hand-over-hand stuff that made using poles almost impossible. I keep the pole straps on, though, so I can just let go of them at any moment. High steps and up up up. We took a break at the first lookout, and it was stunning. Uncas caught up, and we all sat there for a few minutes. It was really nice. Onwards up the mountain. More up and up, but the exceptional views continued until we were above treeline and the whole thing was exposed. White mountain national park in every direction! I loved it.

It was a gorgeous day. Bright sun. Cool (sometimes cold) breeze. Blue sky. Magical... Somewhere near the top of Webster mountain, we found a windless nook and had an early lunch. Then we walked the ridge over a few humps until we got to Mizpah hut for another lunch-ish break. Warm sun!! I laid my socks and shoes in the sun again to dry (avoiding ALL the puddles can be quite hard), and snacked inside with Boss and Uncas. I caught up with blogging a bit (sorry for the delays... very little cell service out here and no electricity at the huts to plug into...), then we filled up on water and were off.

A steep climb up to another peak and LOVELY ridge running for the rest of the afternoon. We hit a few peaks and got to skirt a few others (Eisenhower). We also walked along a part of the trail the was part of the original AT and is THE OLDEST marked trail in the country. Established in 1919 and still being traveled on!! Very neat.

Finally we got to the Lakes of the Clouds hut at 4:30 hoping to get a work-for-stay slot. Mount Washington was hovering overhead, waiting for us to climb her tomorrow. Only 1.5 miles to the top...

We asked the Lakes croo about the thru hiker situation, but they were full up. Darn. Our only option was to pay ten bucks to stay in "the dungeon" - an emergency refuge bunk room in the back of the building. We wouldn't have to do any work, but we wouldn't get any food either. We decided to stay there, and it's a bit grungy and cold, but it'll do. Uncas arrived sometime after we did and signed up for the same deal.

The three of us hung out, made dinner and eventually watched the beautiful sunset. Mount Washington is completely clear right now. We're all hoping it'll be clear tomorrow morning, too.

I love the Whites.
(11.1mi 15st)

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Lakes of the Clouds Hut

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 136: Downhill

Woke up in the clouds and wind at the hut. All nine thru hikers packed up and got out of the way before breakfast was announced at 6:30am. Boss, Eureka, Homebrew and I helped set up the tables. After the guests were finished, we got the leftovers, and then I forced myself to put back on my still-wet clothes. This is probably one of my least favorite things to do on the trail.
Hiking big days and long hours - no worries.
Pooping in the woods - no problem.
Going days without a shower - ain't no thing.
Putting wet clothes on - hate it.

We hiked straight up to South Twin mountain in a thick fog. No view or cell service, and the wind was cold and strong, so our time at the summit was brief. Back down into the protection of the trees then across and down to Mount Guyot. The weather cleared out, thankfully, by the time we got over Zealand mountain, where we stopped for lunch. The summit was surrounded by trees, so there was no view, but it was a nice, warm spot, protected from the wind. With full bellies, we hiked on to the Zeacliff viewpoint. Wow, what a view! We could see where we'd be headed over the next few hours and days, and it all looked good.

Down the mountain to the Zealand Falls Hut where we sat in the glorious sun and snacked on homemade bread one of the croo gave us. Thanks, Mac! I let my shoes and socks dry out in the sun to the point where they were ALMOST fully dry, and then we were off for the 7.5 miles left for the day down to NH 302. It was really nice and mostly flat. How could anything be bad in this kind of weather?!

A quick stop at Ethan Pond tent site, which was BEAUTIFUL in the sunshine. Wanted to stick around but we continued down the ramp-like trail to 302. There weren't any rocks to climb over, but the steep grade was hard on my knees at the end. We were glad to make it to the parking area where we found Uncas trying to hitch a ride to the general store. He'd been there for twenty unsuccessful minutes. As soon as I stuck out my thumb, a pick-up pulled over and gave all three of us a ride (it helps to be a girl sometimes). Thanks for the ride, Wayne!!

Over at the general store, a guy walked in and asked if anyone knew where a hiker named Little Foot was... It was his dad! Little Foot's dad!!?! Papa Foot! What a surprise. I knew he would be meeting up with Little Foot in the Whites, but I wasn't sure when/where. It was so good to catch up! (update on LF: he managed to get Lyme disease AGAIN?! But is all better now...)

Well, Boss and I had planned to just eat dinner at the general store and pick up a few things before heading back to a stealth camp site near the trail, but Papa Foot said we could stay at his campsite with him. Great! We rode back to the site and set up while Papa told us all about his plans for the whites. We cooked hot dogs over a fire and talked about gear and all things AT. Soon enough, it was bed time for all of us. We have a big ole climb first thing in the morning, but it should include a few fantastic views!

Btw: the stab wound in my foot is good. It still is quite sore when I press on it (don't do that!), but feels fine when I'm hiking. Both ankles get rolled at least once a day, but it's the left one that screams at me loudest. My knees only cry out when there's over an hour of straight downhill. Other than that, I'm feeling good!!
(14.7mi 13st)

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Dry River Campground (NH 302)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 135: A Big Day in the Whites

Up at 6am when the croo began to cook breakfast. We had to make sure all our stuff was packed up before the money-paying guests arrived for the morning meal. Apparently there was a mouse running around last night with a mousetrap latched on. It kept Boss up a bit, but I was clueless and sound asleep with my earplugs in.

After the two families ate, Boss and I got leftovers, and there was plenty. Pancakes, oatmeal, juice and peaches. How nice! We ate until we couldn't, and there was still a bunch left over. We swept the floor then changed into our still-wet hiking clothes. Nothing like donning wet underwear in the morning! (ugh) The shoes were the worst. Socks and all...

We were out by 8:40 and headed into a big day. It was easy trail down to I-93, then a steep incline to a lunch break at a campsite where we saw the Chicken Pot Pie crew and Stick Walker, Belle and Cody. But then up up to the Franconia ridge. Once we finally got out to Little Haystack, it was amazing. Clouds were flying by and giving us varied views, but it was quite the setting. The clouds rolled in while we got up and over Little Hayatack, then it began to drizzle a bit while we summited Mt Lincoln. When we got to Lafayette, it was so cloudy, we could only see 30 yards. You couldn't even tell how much of the mountain was left to climb!

Finally we got over Lafayette and began to descend the other side. We stopped for a short snack break in the cloud before it started raining. We got moving and the rain got harder. The trail up there was all exposed, so there was nowhere to hide. It was cold rain. It was beating down. Sideways. Hard, hard, cold, cold, sideways rain! We couldn't help but laugh - it came outta nowhere!! And there was nothing we could do but press on and hope to get back in some protection soon.

Eventually we did, and the rain got lighter until it stopped. We were completely soaked through once again, and there were still six miles to go. Onwards to Mount Garfield. A nice, steep mountain with a bunch of rock climbing sections. It was getting late in the day, and we were starting to get pretty tired. The climb up was fairly steep, but the view from the top was phenomenal. These White Mountains are something else. It's hard to describe how beautiful it is up here. Boss and I stopped to take in the view and a few photos, and then we descended the steep steep trail down the north side of Garfield. It was very steep and required lots of slow, hand over hand type of moves. At one point, it was a waterfall. Slow going. Careful stepping. These are the places that former thru hikers will tell you about going one mile per hour. It would be impossible to go much faster.

We took our time and made it down, then we were desperate to get to the next hut and stop walking. The last 2.9 miles took FOREVER. It was like we weren't even going half a mile per hour. The terrain was slick and rocky, and we were exhausted. 16 miles in the Whites is a HUGE day, and we were so ready to stop. I was having trouble focusing and was certain I would make a footing mistake at some point. Lots of slips and close calls again today, but nothing bad. We stopped for a final break after a sign that told us we were .8 miles away from the hut. Then it was finishing time.

We finally rolled up around 7pm and reunited with Deetz, Power Pack, Miles, Homebrew, and I met Uncas, Eureka and a few others. Hey guys! Everyone was outside while the patrons ate. There was a dramatic sunset while we were out there. Stunning. There were seven thru hikers already doing work-for-stay, so Boss, Homebrew and I would have to eat our own food. We could still stay the night inside though, which is more important. It's supposed to get very chilly tonight. Below freezing up here!?

Everyone ate what they were supposed to, then we all helped clean up. Boss, Uncas and I scrubbed pots (I think I may feel it in my shoulders tomorrow morning...). Now, it's lights-out and we're all scattered on tables and benches for the night. I'm planning on a not-so-big day tomorrow. I deserve it.
(15.9mi 17st)

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Galehead Hut

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 134: Back to the Wet Trail

Woke up early, and we were out of the house by 6am. Tyler drove us back to the trail, but not until after a quick breakfast stop in town. Bacon/egg/cheese bagels and we were good to go. It was a bit of a drizzly-looking day, and it was supposed to rain later, but at least it was holding off until we were walking.

Back at the trail head, we thanked Tyler once again for all his generosity, told him to give a hug to Renee, then waved goodbye to my car for a month. (I'll pick it up soon after I'm done with the whole thing. Renee and Tyler offered to watch it for me. Nice, right?!) Back to hiking!

It hurt. We started climbing out of Kinsmen Notch, and my heart was beating like crazy. I got a little lightheaded trying to keep my old pace, but Boss seemed to be fine going uphill. Ugh. I was worried about being so slow after five days off when we're trying to catch up with Scatters and Rorshach and the rest of the gang!

It took a while to get up to the ridge, but I was much better once I was up there. It started to sprinkle, and after a lunch break at the Eliza Brook shelter, it started to rain. It was cold. We were wet. Our climb up to the first Kinsman summit was along a picturesque waterfall that would've been awesome on a hot day. But it was probably 60 degrees. Once we finally made it to the top, the wind was blowing the rain was sideways, and the view was a wall of fog. We paused for 30 seconds to feel hardcore, then we continued on, back under tree cover.

It continued to rain up and over the south Kinsman peak, then we began the steep descent. Parts of the trail were like a river. Mud. Puddles - some very deep. Slippery rocks. Of all the steep mountains I've climbed during this hike, many times I have said "thank goodness it's not raining for this hill." This descent probably would've been in the top five. We both slipped a bunch of times, I jabbed my shoulder into a tree branch, and Boss took a good fall. Luckily, we made it down to the Lonesome Lake Hut without any serious injuries. My foot, by the way, was feeling pretty good despite the gravity-assisted self mutilation. I realize now that the cut must've been kinda deep since it's about half an inch wide. It stayed dry-ish under a bandaid and athletic tape, and it didn't hurt as much as I expected it to... once I got going.

So we rolled up into the hut (our first hut!) and asked about work-for-stay. It was about 4pm, and we didn't really want to stop for the day, but everything was soaked to the core, and we were both frigid. Jess (one of the croo) said we could stay and do a few things after dinner and breakfast, so we said we would. There were two large family groups hanging out and three croo members (Jess, Ali, Phil). Boss and I changed into dry clothes and hung around until dinner time. It had stopped raining finally. So we went down to the small lake and watched the fog roll in and out. It was beautiful and very serene, and a few ducks swam by.

Soon it was our turn to eat leftovers, so we saddled up and ate ham, mashed potatoes, peas, salad, bread (Boss REALLY liked the bread), and delicious potato soup. Thru hikers are allowed to sleep on the tables in the main room of the huts if there is room for us and eat any leftovers. It's a great deal, and this is the first time taking advantage of it.

While we ate, a few of the kids entertained us by dancing (it was like tv), and then we cleaned up a few shelf sets and under a sink with bleach. It wasn't too much work, but Boss and I were super tired. We were up too early this morning! After clean up and chatting, it was lights out at 9:30. We hung all our wet stuff in hopes that it'll dry by morning. Looking forward to much better weather for the next week. I don't want to climb all these mountains and not get great views!

(Boss REALLY liked the bread.)
(13.4mi 11st)

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Lonesome Lake Hut

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day 133: One More Zero

Woke up late and loved it. It's amazing how much just driving can take out of you. Tyler was off at a meeting all morning, so Boss and I drove into town to have breakfast, stop at the post office, get gas and resupply at the grocery store. It was such a nice day, and Plymouth is adorable.

Back at Renee's, we packed up. Boss took care of some business on the phone while I also made a few calls. We had the option to lay low at the house and leave around 3pm, so we took that option. It was nice to recover from the whirlwind weekend. When Tyler got back, he invited us to stay another night and enjoy a grilled dinner and a few beers. We couldn't resist. Does that make us bad hikers...?

Tyler grilled us an amazing feast of sausage, pork tenderloin, steak tips, peppers, asparagus, and garlic bread. Soooooo delicious! Thank you, Tyler!! And if it hadn't been for a small, bizarre accident with a knife, it would've been a perfect evening. While we were eating outside, I somehow dropped a steak knife so that it landed on my right foot - stabby side down. With the help of gravity, I stabbed my own foot. Who does that?

It bled a bit more than was comfortable, but I kept pressure on it, and I'm pretty sure it's only skin deep. It's doing fine now, and I think it'll be fine in the morning. Maybe a bit sore? We plan to leave Plymouth really early to get back to the trail to make up for not hiking this afternoon, so I hope it'll feel good. I'm sure it will.

Hope the legs will be ready to go after 5 whole days off. Looking forward to a great next stretch of trail. Bring on the Whites!

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Plymouth, NH

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 130-132: Whirlwind Wedding Weekend

Great night of sleep. Strata and fruit for breakfast #1, then over for a quick trip to the beach to dip my feet in the Atlantic. This will be the first summer in a WHILE to not include a swim in the ocean... Onto Walmart, then breakfast #2 at home with cereal and more fruit.

Boss and I packed our stuff up and got on the road by 1pm to drive to DC. We got caught in a bit of traffic, and it took over 4 hours to make it to DC. Ugh. After stopping by to say hi to Leah at the store and to pick up Boss' box of "normal" clothes, we hung out at my brother's apartment and then went out to dinner with a few friends. Delicious Ethiopian food (though Boss had slightly different opinions), then drinks and dancing, then late-night Ben's Chili Bowl. It was a great night, but it was WAY past hiker bedtime.

Sunday morning, I had breakfast on the Hill with Leah then grabbed Boss and Dan and drove out to REI. We saw Chris (Half Elvis) again and chatted with him about the last month of the trail. He is friends with a girl currently on the trail named Turtle, who is from Atlanta and knows and used to work with NH Amy - small world!

On the way back home, I stopped and got a new pair of shoes (my big feet have gotten larger!), and Boss got a dress shirt. Then I headed over to my haircut. Amy (DC Amy) came by to catch up with me while I got my locks trimmed and then we ran back to the apartment to throw on my dress and run out the door. She drove me and Boss to the wedding, and we got there 5 minutes before it began. Phewph!

It was a gorgeous setting at the Oxen Hill Manor, but VERY hot and swampy. I felt bad for all the guys in suits since I was sweating up a storm in a sun dress. Kayanne looked STUNNING and Adam was beaming. It was a beautiful ceremony. Short and sweet, and Imry (their 3-year-old) did a fabulous job as the ring bearer. So cute!

It was great to see my DC friends, and we all had a great night. The reception was [air-conditioned and] lots of fun, and I didn't want it to end. Once again, I ended up staying up way too late. Made it back to my brother's apartment and passed out with delight. Sleeeeeeep.

Monday morning included a nice sleep-in. I was exhausted from running around all weekend, and needed a few extra hours. I finally got rolling and packed up and we hit the road after a quick lunch at Good Stuff Eatery. Road trip! (I decided to drive my car back up to New England so I'll have it for the ride back to DC at the end...) We passed through states a lot quicker than we had while hiking (I noted and photographed the mileage of how many more miles we have to hike up to Katahdin), and made great time... until the NYC area. We hit it at rush hour and sat in bumper to bumper traffic for a while. Just before 10pm, we rolled up to NH Amy's house. She allowed us to leave a few pieces of not-carry-on safe gear with her. We picked it up and stopped for a cup of coffee. Quick turnaround (too quick!) and we were off to Plymouth, NH.

One of my old lacrosse teammates from Syracuse lives in Plymouth, and she invited us to stay the night before taking us back to the trail the next day. She won't be there (she's up in Maine), but her husband, Tyler, would be. We didn't arrive until midnight, but Tyler was up to let us in. (thank you Tyler!!) We said a quick hello before we all crashed into bed. Long trip. Lots of driving miles. Back to the trail (and walking) tomorrow!!

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:DC to Plymouth, NH

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 129: Flying is Very Efficient

Didn't wake up too early and broke down camp pretty quickly. Boss and I took showers at the [over-priced] camp showers. Eight quarters for 6 minutes! We didn't have enough change, but luckily showermaster Bob let us take a cash advance to avoid having to run back to the car. After getting clean, we met Amy down at the watering hole where Izzy was having a blast splashing around in the stream. The water was too cold to swim, so we headed into town for breakfast at The Blueberry Muffin.

Delicious breakfast (and blueberry flavored coffee?!) and great conversation before paying the tab and driving around to a few climbing spots. We weren't planning on climbing today, of course, but Amy and Boss are climbers, and Amy has climbed a bunch in this area. Beautiful spots and another gorgeous day. The Cathedral looked like it would be a lot of fun.

We had to rip ourselves away from being tourists and to start heading down to the airport in Manchester. Great day for a road trip (or anything, really) and stunning New Hampshire landscapes. Meredith was so adorable!

Unfortunately, we hit traffic. At a few points, we were worried we'd miss the flight, but since we were leaving our tent stakes, lights, stoves, and hiking poles with Amy, we could carry our packs on the plane. It was a bit tight for timing, but we made it with a few minutes to spare - enough for Boss to grab some food. Thanks for driving and hosting us, Amy!! See you Monday!

It was weird to fly. So efficient and clean. We had a few funny flight attendants entertain us every time they had something to say over the intercom, and we read the entire sky mall catalogue. In 90 minutes, we had traveled 455 miles. Our normal distance for that time is 4-5 miles...

My mom picked us up at the airport with snacks and hugs, and after hitting a bit of beach traffic and watching the sun set over the bay, we chatted our way home. My brother cooked up a FEAST while we were on the way. Steaks and chicken and veggies and corn and lots of other good stuff. Yum!

We all ate ourselves silly and chatted about everything until Boss and I were about to pass out with fatigue. It was WAY past hiker midnight (it was actual midnight), so we all went to bed. Looking forward to breakfast in the morning. It's so weird to be back here. Home-cooked meals and beds and laundry and my family. Nice.

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Parents' House in Berlin, MD