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

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