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Hello everyone!

I greatly appreciate all of your support over my thru-hike of the AT.  Due to several people’s comments, I have started another blog for the Colorado Trail which I plan to start in one week.  After that I had a full semester of NOLS New Zealand, and while I won’t have a lot of access to the internet, I have weekend trip stories from the Adirondack High Peaks for your entertainment.  I had fun in all of them and I hope you all enjoy reading them.  As always, comments are most welcome!

Here it is: http://thebackpackerchronicles.wordpress.com

Mandy/Veggie

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On Sunday, I set out into the hundred mile wilderness with Fiddy, Groom, and Abolitionist after Wazi dropped us off at the trailhead around 11ish am.  After only about 100 yards we were warned by a sign that we would pretty much die if we did not bring 10 days of food into the “wilderness”.  Ha. haha.  No.   Three miles in, the shelter register had an anonymous entry saying:

“Any nobos who think they can do the wilderness in less than 8 days are fucking kidding themselves”

Under it someone commented “must be a sobo” pointing to the comment.  Laughter.

We then proceeded on the rooty small ups and downs for 15 miles to the shelter area.  In the middle, about 8 miles in, we encountered a large family with nervous kids near the Little Wilson Falls area.  This family also included a teenage girl dressed for the mall who had dropped her cell phone near an edge-ish area and the mother had Fiddy go down and rescue it.  So sorry your plastic flipflops and sparkly heart belt buckle were not made to retrieve something on slightly slippery rooty woodsy surfaces.  HOW DID THEY GET THERE??  They obviously had not walked 8 miles to get there.  They must have taken their car to a nearby dirt road.  Some wilderness.  We camped up at a shelter area for the night.

In the morning, we woke up and went up the Barren-Chairback range, which was still rocky and rooty.  It had more elevation change than the previous day, but not to the extent that we were used to.  On top of Barren Mountain, I met a day hiker with home-made cut-off jean shorts that were so short the pocket hung out the bottom.  I also wondered where he came from until he enlightened me to the existence of a parking lot a few miles down a side trail.  Yes, “wilderness.”

The range continued with 4 other mountain peaks two of which had no distinguishing features which were aptly named “fourth mountain” and “third mountain.”  Creative.  There were some awesome views from Third of the Whitecap Range.  We met a girl ridgerunner at the chairback shelter who wrote with so many weird characters that I had trouble discerning what was written.  It was also in different colors…

Tired, we headed down the last rock scramble down Chairback mountain to the KI road which was a “well-traveled, well kept logging road”.  Once again, “wilderness”.  But then, TRAIL MAGIC.  Ok, so then I can deal with it not being so wilderness-y if there is root beer, bananas, apples, and junk food in coolers.  Alright.  I dig.  So much that we opted to stay not too much further down (right before a 2 mile no-camping zone due to excessive use of day hikers).  It was one of those improv campsites that you usually walk by thinking “damn, that’s a good spot…I wanna camp there.”  It was right on the other side of a creek that lined the trail and emptied into the next river we were supposed to ford.  Fiddy, Groom, Abolitionist and I had a good time hanging out there for a few hours before we all promptly went to sleep.

Tuesday, we “forded” the river, which was still a rock-hop, although slightly more complicated than others.  Then we set up to go over the Whitecap range, the last of the large climbs until Katahdin and on which we got a spectacular view of Katahdin itself and it started to sink in that we were so close to being finished.  This range was ridiculously well maintained which made it easier than the lesser elevation in the Chairbacks.  There were four peaks on the range, but these all had names–not just numbers.  Wow.  Genius.  Despite the nice rock stairs broken into the mountains and the actual dirt underneath my feet for a change, the climbs still made my appetite go out the wa-zoo and I kept eating and eating and eating…ha, what else is new for 6 months?  I did manage to do the 11 miles to the top of Whitecap before taking a 45 minute lunch break on top of the mountain and eventually gazing at Katahdin.

However, then we had 11 more miles to go for the night to Crawford Pond where Waz-ball told us there was an excellent campsite near the sand beach on the pond.  On the way there, I ran into a rather talkative beginner section hiker and his dog who felt the need to discuss the politics of wind power in Maine after finding out that I was vegan “and therefore an environmentalist.”  Too bad I really have no idea what’s going on in the world, much less in Maine.  When I just stopped talking (mostly because I was hungry and wanted dinner and did not feel like flexing the brain muscles around the energy problem our country has), he eventually just stopped talking too.  He ended up camping with us and chilled out on the politics babble, and then came out with other odd-ball comments which were somehow more amusing after filling my stomach.

We all stayed up to watch the stars come out that night over the pond and identified a few constellations.  Of course, we then used the star finder app on the iphone to double check.  We also battled a few chipmunks and squirrels that night and the next morning which decided to do their sitting and cackling number right near our tents.  They definitely woke me up bright and early.

I was up first, so I went out to the beach to cook as to not wake the others up if they managed to sleep through the cackling which began as annoying as the “villain” in the grudge which made like a gargling noise that was somehow supposed to scare you.  That was Wednesday, the day I was for some unidentified reason, super energized and had a ton of motivation.  I rocketed and made 17 miles by 2:30 to White House Landing, were I was planning on grabbing a few resupply items (some oatmeal, bagels, and a few cliff bars).  I was reluctant after meeting 2 section hikers sitting right by the side trail there who very bluntly told me the owner was an asshole to them and to try not to support him.  I wouldn’t have, but my appetite had eaten through my food bag like those pesky mice a few weeks ago…it was just mysteriously disappearing into my stomach.

It was drizzling at that point and Go Fish and I walked the 1.2 mile super rooty side trail to a boat dock where I got to blow an air horn to get the owner to get in his boat and collect us.  This amused me to no end and it took all of my self restraint to only blow it once.  He did come and take us across the lake.  I asked him if he had seen War Cry and Whiskey Bait there for lunch and he replied that they were staying to avoid the rain.  Excited, I asked to say hi.  His reply:

“No.  I know people think I’m a jerk, but this is just how its done.  If you’re just resupplying, you resupply and I get you back to the trail.  Period.”

Hmmm.

Me: “can you tell them I said hi them”

Owner: [frowns] [grunts like an angry pig] “fine”

I then went and got what I needed and War Cry and Whiskey Bait see me walk by and ran over to say hi and we chatted a bit much to the owners chagrin.  The owner then made several comments of “I don’t have all day” or “we’re technically closed right now” or “I have other things to do today”

Well I’M SORRY MY 17 MILE DAY DID NOT FIT INTO YOUR 11am-1pm LUNCH AND RESUPPLY WINDOW.  Damn.  I thought 2:30 was pretty damn good.  I would have stayed and played some bitch cards, but I was afraid he would take it out on the other two, so I paid his hefty prices and left pissed off.  He shuttled me by boat back to the trail–but not the dock 1.2 miles away.  He took me to about a quarter mile away.  Why the hell did I have to walk the other annoying mile?

It was then raining quite hard but he pissed me off enough to go 7 more miles to the next shelter where I managed to dry out myself, but not my clothes.  I left a note for Abolitionist, Groom, and Fiddy that I was going past the campsite by another lake we decided on because I really don’t enjoy setting up and packing in my tent in the rain.  I just went 2 miles further.  I spent the night in Wadleigh shelter with 3 section hikers and the other 3 caught me in the morning when I was demotivated.  Although I did write White House Landing a scathing review in the morning and talked shit about them to everyone I saw moving south.  I should have blown the airhorn like Rachel Leigh Cook did in that crappy 90s movie “She’s all that”…

It was still raining until about 9am or so Thursday, then it was just the stuff the wind blew off the trees.  Knowing that it would clear in the afternoon, I set out late and got into the shelter late.  That was mostly because half way through the day my damp shorts were chaffing so bad that I just hiked the last 8 miles of the 20 mile day in my underwear.  Oops.  Whatever, it wasn’t like hike naked day.  Plus, I only passed two people–that I will never see again.

That third long day placed us 3.5 miles from the Abol Bridge which is the northern boundary to the 100 mile wilderness.  We stopped there so we didn’t have to pay to camp.  That night, the mice in the area were on speed.  They were running all over our tents.  I’m pretty sure all of us socked at least one with a kick and sent them flying.  I even hung my food with a mouse can too.  There was no food in my tent.  We found Boston there who decided he would rather summit with us (people he knew) than with the crowd that was going to summit a day earlier.

When I woke up in the morning, I noticed War Cry and Whiskey Bait had made it the 27 miles there to do the last two days with us and the 7 of us all headed to Abol Bridge Campstore were we quickly devoured massive quantities of chips, other assorted food and bought quite a lot of beer.  While our cell phones charged and our tent flys dried we drank a few tall boys in the parking lot, then packed anywhere between 4 and 6 each out.  Mmmm PBR.  Classic.

It was an easy 10 miles up to The Birches Campsite in Baxter State Park where we checked in and paid for a rather crappy campsite that reeked of privy.  However, after about an hour, I didn’t smell it anymore.  None of us probably smelled much better since it was a week from the last shower.  But, it did rain…that’s close enough to a shower.

We cooked, drank some beer, and talked until hiker midnight, then went to bed to the sounds of SUVs on a dirt road leaving the park.  Awesome…10 bucks? Damn.

We attempted to get up at 6am, but it was more like 6:30am and we meandered over to the Katahdin Stream Campsite where day-hikers were pouring in and starting to hike up Katahdin.  I also found the awesome mother who had brought us fresh delicious vegan muffins and bananas for the morning.

After a quick chat and some munching, we started up Katahdin around 8:30am and passed day-hiker group after group.  It was ridiculous.  Not just the amount of people, but the types of people, and kids.  The adrenaline was kicking and we went the whole 5 miles virtually without stopping.  The first 1ish was super easy and only went up slightly to the top of the stream falls.  Then the middle section started to shoot upwards over awesome rock scrambles with squeezes and rebar to climb up.  I paused to stow my trekking poles because I needed both hands to climb.  We passed a teenageish kid who was telling his buddy (about half way up): “oh yeah, I’m kinda  a safety freak and I hate heights” and promptly freaked out about every 2 feet and wouldn’t let us pass his sorry ass until his friend told him to move over and let us by.  The second pause was when we got to the Tabletop where I put on a windbreaker because we had to climb the last mile (which was easy, relatively speaking) in a cloud.

We got to the top and celebrated with lunch and a few more PBR tall boys.  It was a super surreal moment and I really didn’t know what to think.  We were all sitting in a cloud, drinking beer at our destination.  Eventually, we took over the sign to take zillions of pictures before all the day hikers that we passed caught up.  At a few points, the clouds parted and we had some sweet views, including the Knife’s Edge trail which I would consider climbing up, but not descending.  The chimneys showed up, the lakes, the rock scrambles, ripples of the sun.

When we were all shivering, we started to descend via the AT nice and tipsy which definitely helped in the steep descent because it took the focus off of the usually inevitable knee pain and just made me be relatively careful.  It seemed fairly easy to my surprise and we all kept a good pace going down and made it back to the wonderful mother at about 2:40.  Her and her awesome trail magic large cooler of beer, 3 types of vegan cookies, snacks, fruit, and some interesting chatting for 3 hours until Groom’s fiance got there to pick them up.  She took him, Fiddy and Abolitionist while Mom and I took War Cry and Whiskey Bait back to Monson where they left their car.

Then came the long way back to Syracuse which has been overwhelming me since I got in the car and the lights and billboards were flashing and I apparently can’t multitask anymore.

Comments appreciated 🙂

I had an awesome, relaxing view with Vish in Caratunk which refreshed my knees quite well on Wednesday, THANKS VISH!

On Thursday, Vish dropped me off at the trailhead bright and early and I headed out and had a nice easy morning of 6 relatively flatish miles up to Pleasant Pond Shelter and ran into 6 sobos on the way.  After a nice break, I headed up Pleasant Pond Mountain.  The ascent was quite easy–it went up and had no large scrambles, so I took a long break on top because it had cell service unlike all of Caratunk.

I figured, lunch at Moxie Pond at the bottom, but the mountain was a pain in the ass to get down because it went up and down up and down and there were no landmarks and I was hungry.  I passed 3 more sobos.  How do they expect to make it without being ridiculously cold in December or January in Georgia??

I ate, swam, and then headed up Moxie Bald Mountain which was an awesome open, exposed top.  I dropped down to the shelter below and started reading the log.  Then like magic, Wazi appeared via hobbling around the corner!  Awesome!  We went and ate dinner, talked, and eventually set up our tents in the dark.  He made some delicious vegan desert ball things that had peanut buttery chocolate.

That night, I had some mouse issues AGAIN.  This time it was my fault–I didn’t hang my food and settled for the set it in the vestibule of my tent.  At 3:17am I woke up to chewing.  Shit.  High beam on the headlamp.  Damn mouse got into my cashews.  Once again, not the Tylenol PM.  Unfortunate.  Instead of hanging my food, my half asleep solution was bring it into my tent with me.  Then the mouse circled my tent.  I was afraid it was going to chew threw my tent, so I was up shinning light on it every few minutes. Then eventually I hit its tail with a boot and it scampered off for the rest of the morning.

This, of course, caused much amusement to Wazi because a vegan was hitting a mouse.  We lollygagged around and ate a slow breakfast so we could dry out our rainflys in the sun.

When we finally left, we went about 9 super easy miles to right before the next shelter where there was a nice little campsite by the river and ate lunch.  However, we didn’t move from that spot because we predicted the Nero Kings would want to nero into Monson which would make that the ideal location.  So, we hung out and talked to a few other nobos who passed.  They told us the 3 hooligans had not been at the Pleasant Pond shelter and they had not seen them since the “Smokies—errr umm the Whites.”

At about 6ish we definitely decided to just be lazy and stay.  Rather, I decided on the laziness that Wazi-ball was ironically trying to convince me of.  There were not mice that night.

In the morning, we headed out early in order to make PO hours to grab my last drop box.  We headed the quarterish mile to the shelter to write a scathing entry towards Fiddy, Groom, and Abolitionist.

Then, after trying not to wake the two people in the shelter up, we headed the other 9 miles into town where we did run into some trail magic about 3 miles in–in the form of soda and beer in a cooler.  Yummmm.

After the easy 9 miles, Wazi drove us into town, we picked up the box and set up at Lakeshore House, Pub, and Laundromat.  Then we decided food was necessary and went to Greenville because Monson is literally the size of a pea.

Then the awesomeness of getting some snacks and going out on a paddleboat on the lake happened.  Even better, we paddled out and drifted back!  Then we sat in a floaty seat thingee for a long while.

A brilliant idea then crossed our minds and after some showers, we grabbed some beer and snacks and went up to the trailhead to see when the hooligans would get in although we had conflicting information on which day they would get to Monson.  They did arrive at about 6:15ish whereby I won the bet on arrival time 🙂

The 5 of us chilled at the trailhead for awhile before packing into Wazi-ball’s car and came back here.

Now its off to the 100 mile wilderness!

That night, I believe it was in Hall Mountain Shelter, I woke up with an emanating, searing pain in my lower back where I had gotten bit by something.  I could not get comfortable.  The pain was so bad that I was chewing on my sleeping bag.  That’s when I knew that I couldn’t deal with it myself.

In the morning, when it stopped pouring, I hiked 4 miles to the other road into Andover where I caught the same shuttle into town…only after slipping in the mud on my ass going down Moody Mountain.  I got a kick out of how the detour on the bottom of of the mountain says “follow blue” and the top says “follow orange”.  Whatever.  Both went straight up. Both were eroded.

I got a shuttle into the hospital in Rumford where the ER told me it was a poisonous spider bite, but was not infected.  They took the top off of it and gave me some strrrrrong antibiotics.  I spent the night in the Pine Ellis Hostel and got a ride to the trailhead in the morning.

When I got there, I immediately felt sick and realized that it hurt too badly to put the waist band of my pack on.  So I sat down.  I sat there for about an hour feeling really sick as well.  Boston came up and told me of his recent hospital experience after cutting his shin open in Mahousic Notch and needing stitches.  I decided to zero there at a campsite just on the other side of the road that I spotted the day before.

After having left a note on a tree for War Cry and DC, who were in Andover via the first road, set up my tent.  Then I vomited breakfast.  Gotta love those chocolate brownie cliff bars and cinnamon toast crunch cereal twice!  Then I slept until DC woke me up around 1:30.  Then War Cry, Trail Trash, and EZ Hiker came and had a long lunch there too.  I tried to chat, but was having a hard time sitting upright.  DC hitched in and got me some gatorade and oreos when he got a soda and tobacco.

When they left, I slept until I heard thunder and got up to put my rain fly on.  Then I slept through the storm and woke up around 11 to eat, take antibiotics, then sleep until 7:15am.

When I got up, I managed to eat, take the antibiotics and move very incredibly slowly up Old Blue Mountain and Bemis Mountain to a shelter only 9 miles out.  When I got there, I pretty much set up, ate, and slept.

In the morning, I felt ok, so I set off early and managed to do 18 into Rangley where I stayed in the Gull Pond Lodge hostel which smelled like old man.  I did get some Thai food and meet the most ridiculous sobo ever.  This sobo hiked south to Rangley, stopped because of the “heat” in Maine and got a job for the summer.  He planned to continue south at the beginning of september with his LAPTOP COMPUTER.  I asked him what he had for rain gear and he said “none, I sent it home.”  Having a computer in your pack without so much as a pack cover seems just a liiiiiittle bit ludicrous to me.

When the post office finally opened in the morning at 9:30am (latest evvver), I got my resupply package and hitched back to the trail.  I took a break about 2 miles in to talk to the ridgerunner since I haven’t seen one since Jersey and he gave me Buckeye’s bandana that he had texted me to get there.

About 1/2 way up Saddleback Mountain, I started to feel really sick again.  I got almost all the way up, but then laid down for an hour and a half.  Once the stomach settled down, I did only 6ish more miles over the top of Saddleback, the Horn, and Saddleback Junior over to the Poplar Ridge shelter which I got to night hiking with a dull headlamp and camped solo.

Once again, I had no energy and slept.  I think the 500ml of antibiotics 4 times per day was taking all my energy.  From there, I went about 14ish (I think) to the Crocker Cirque campsite after going down the ridge, up and over Spaulding, and straight down, then 600ft up the Crockers.  The campsite was .2 off trail but there was a nice clearing right next to the sign and the water was right there too, so I camped there.

In the morning, I managed to do the 7.3 miles over the two Crockers and hitch into Stratton by 10:45 where I found Buckeye to give him his bandana.  Fredo, MC and MC’s sister had left that morning.  After resupplying, Buckeye and I headed out and up the Bigalows.  We made it the first steep part 5.2 miles where there was a shelter and a caretaker/ridgerunner named Otis.  After talking with him awhile, taking a break, and running into Boston who was slackpacking south, we headed on 3 more miles where we ended up to Bigalow Col.  This included going up and over South Horn and the West peak.  Bigalow Col was in between West peak and Avery peak, just under 4000ft up.  Since the weather looked like it could turn bad any minute, we stopped there since it was another exposed peak and a steep, long decent to the next place to stop.

That night it poured and our tents got soaked.  Oh, and a rambunctious mouse got into my food bag despite it being in a tree and ate through one of my luna bars and into a bag of oatmeal.  Too bad it didn’t get the Tylenol PM and pass out.

The next morning, we were very unmotivated to move and didn’t until about 9am.  When we did move, we even had to wear rain jackets….weird.  It wasn’t raining, but more for the wind on the exposed Avery Peak.  When we got down half of the descent, we hit the 2000 miles marker where we took some picture breaks.  We eventually took the jackets off, then climbed up and over Little Bigalow Mountain which was a lot harder than the profile made it look.  There was a nice lunch break, albeit a cold one, in the shelter before moving on 7.3 more miles to West Carry Pond.

There, we shared the shelter with Go Fish, a flipflopper and strung up our bear lines to dry out our tents.  Lucky for us we strung them under the shelter awning because it downpoured again that night.

The next morning, I SAW A MOOSE!  And I heard another one on the way over to the Kennebec River.  It was a solid, but relatively easy 14 miles there and we did it by 12:45.  I suddenly had some energy after taking the last antibiotic the night before.  WOOHOO.

Dave, the Ferry man, took us across the river in a canoe and we headed the third of a mile to the Caratunk Post Office where I got a resupply box and we got a ride to the Northern Outdoors Resort where we tented for $7.50.  That also included the hot tub, shower, pool, and internet access.  They also had their own microbrew in the basement and we got samplers of all.  Uncle J-Bird who I met in Rangley with Seedless Joe and Trail Mix who have been yellow blazing all over.  Then the token sobos.

While Buckeye and I were using the internet, a past thru hiker came up and offered to buy us a beer, so we went and chatted with him and his wife for an hour or so who he had met on trail.

This morning, I rechecked facebook and left Vish another note who then appeared around 9am to pick me up for a needed zero.  I figured I could either zero in Caratunk or Monson and make it fine, so I am zeroing here and trying to catch up on this blog thing.  Letting the knees rest a bit.

Sorry for not updating, I have been quite busy getting my ass kicked by southern Maine.

I had a productive zero in Gorham, NH where I met Wazi for lunch and he gave me some good scoop about the upcoming miles while we caught up on what’s gone on since Daleville, VA.  Other than that, I did some relaxing, ridiculous movie watching, beer drinking, and swimming in the pool.  Oh, and of course watching a sobo who had merca (sp?) cut open a bite and green puss ooze out.

I hiked out with Fredo, Major Chafage, and Buckeye a solid 12 miles out where about 3 miles in we hit the Mahousic trail which doubles as the AT for 30ish miles of ass-kicking mountains.  It started out as a nice, somewhat humid day which turned into waiting on the side of a mountain in a downpouring thunderstorm which decided to sit right over us for about half an hour.  Since the top of the mountain was exposed alpine rock, being up there with metal hiking poles, tent poles, and backpack frame was not ideal.  The rest of the day was overcast and misty, but we made it the 12 miles to a shelter which had a fantastic view and right near a small waterfall.  There we encountered 2 sobos, an old guy, and a guy from Long Island aptly trail named New York.

In the morning we were woken up around 4:45-5am by the two of them talking with normal voices and packing up.  Then, New York put on his headphones where blaring creed-like bad rock music started playing and he head banged for the next 2-2.5 hours until he left at 7:30.  Nice wake up call, NOT.  Oh sobos…

From there, we did a measly 9 miles to the Full Goose Shelter which was 1.5 miles to Mahousic Notch, the supposed “hardest mile on the trail”.   We were all planning on going through the notch that afternoon, but as we were taking our lunch break, it started raining, not too badly, but raining for about 20 minutes.  Basically, all the boulders in the notch would be wet, slick, and unpleasant.  So, we stayed and figured we accomplished something because we had crossed the border into Maine that day–marked only by a wooden sign.

There was quite the crowd there that night.  There were 3 sobos who zeroed there, 3 section hikers, and us in the shelter.  Then a camp and a zillion other sectioners or sobos camping around.

In the morning, the rocks dried and we went up the last little mountain and then shot down into the notch where the fun began.  The mile-long notch took the four of us an hour and a half to get through but we were having a blast, taking pictures, and enjoying the giant boulder scramble.  I was very glad I have done some caving, although not with a full pack, cave packs are quite a bit smaller.  There were boulders to go up, over, around, and under for a mile.  There were crazy leg extensions and pulling-yourself-up-with-a-root numbers.  Of course, trekking poles are absolutely useless in this situation, so they were stowed on my pack, although one would not compress very well since I bent it coming down from Cube Mountain.

After the notch, we took a water break and then climbed up Mahousic Arm which shot straight up on giant rock slabs.  A lot of this whole section seemed like bouldering, but without the crash pads and spotters underneath you and with a nice full pack on the back.  That put us at Spec Pond Shelter for lunch after doing 5 miles in about 5 hours-hahaha.  The climb up Spec Mountain from there was another large slab and then there was the 2500ft or so drop down, which was slightly better graded, but still hurt my poor aching knees.

At the bottom, we took a break in Grafton Notch where a ranger gave us some root beer.  We decided to go 2.5 more miles up to the Baldpate Shelter where we would be half way up those two peaks.  We shared the shelter with a guy who hiked last year.

The Baldpates weren’t too hard, but very exposed areas, so I was glad it was good weather.  We called a hostel in Andover to get a shuttle in to resupply since the two roads to get there are very rustic and have very little traffic, and no cell service.  We did 8 miles by noon that day and went to the general store which was a TERRIBLE resupply, but it was Sunday, so I had to bounce my box up to the next town and resupply there.  We took a leisurely lunch before getting the shuttle back to the trailhead.

We did 6 more relatively easy miles up to a shelter where we stayed the night next to a bunch of loud, teenage, French-Canadian girls with duct tape on their foreheads.  Luckily they camped slightly away.  On the way up there I was getting hit in the face with so many pine tree branches, I was having flashbacks to the Smokies, but instead of feet of snow, there were mud bogs I was trying to avoid.

THE WHITES!

From the Glencliff hostel, I went a nice short day up Moosilauke Mountain, the first over 4000 footer in quite a long time.  I managed to leave around 11 after giving Seedless Joe a fresh mohawk and eating as much as I could fit in my stomach.  It was a fairly easy climb and I made it up and ate lunch on top with Fredo, B, and some SOBOs.  It was a beautiful day and I sat and chilled on the summit for about 3 hours or close to it enjoying the view and good weather.  From there, I could see the next two ridges I would do.  I went down about 1/2 way to the shelter where I had to scramble to grab a tent sight from the first of a string of summer camps.  That whole thing where the trail would be kid free Monday through Friday–doesn’t work in summer.  Bummer.  It has switched from boy scouts to summer camps, some prepared and some woefully unprepared with a token screaming unhappy kid.

In the morning, Mimi caught up and was looking to dry her sleeping bag out after all the dew from her stealth campsite and we leap frogged the whole day.  The descent from Moosilauke was the first to make my knees scream bloody murder with it’s 2000 ft drop in 1.5 miles full of rebar metal steps, wood steps, and walking down next to a waterfall.  We crossed Kingsman Notch and went up Wolf Mountain and its “ridge” which was really just 7.5 miles of up down up down and muuuuud.  After a long lunch break with Mimi, Fredo, Creepy, and the two brothers Robo Baggins and Darwin, we all went up the Kingsmans.  Now if you want boulders and slabs to climb up, these are your mountains.  Oh, and many are slick and wet.  I ipoded the way up for the first time since Virginia because I didn’t think there would be too many snakes or bears on the steepness.  It was another above treeline day and we were trying to get to the shelter on the other side of North Kingsman.  Fredo, Creepy and I stopped there with yet another summer camp, this one a little more prepared.  It rained the whole night which made descending the steep slabby mountain rediculously wet and slick.  Another knee killer!  It took forever to get the 2 miles to the hut where the three of us ate some 4 hour old oatmeal with some brown sugar that they wanted to get rid of.  It wiggled.

Once we got down further, the shitty day turned awesome and we decided not to go into Lincoln, but rather to go up to a campsite at the south side of Franconia Ridge and see how we felt there.  Creepy ran ahead trying to get another 10 miles in while Fredo and I took a long lunch in the Notch.  However, a bit before we were leaving, 4 groups of singing camp girls wearing the same exact thing, including boots and hair ties were headed to that campsite.  There were 25 of them and their 10 counselors.  Shit.  They sang.  We passed all of them on the 2.5 mile hike up and sat with the caretaker at the campsite eating a second lunch there.  He cooked us tea and coffee and in our desperation, he convinced us to go further up the ridge, climb Haystack, Lincoln, and Lafayette, then descend 1.1 miles OFF TRAIL to the Greenleaf Hut.  Since they are so far off, they rarely get thru-hikers.  The day was too nice to pass up good weather on the ridge, so despite being tired, we continued the 5 miles more and ran from the singing girls and their fat head counselor who tried to race us up the mountain…and lost.

Greenleaf Hut was awesome and we ended up seeing Seedless Joe and Loudmouth there.  So much for never getting thru hikers.  Oops, they aren’t really thru hikers.  My bad.  Anyway, we got in late and the croo (the college kids who run them) gave us a ton of leftovers which we devoured, then we did a “program.”  I.E. have yuppies in their LLBean gear ask us questions about thru-hiking for an hour or so.  They asked the usual ridiculous questions and then some.  In the morning we had to sweep and stomp compost for work-for-stay.  Yum yum, compost!

Then we climbed back up Lafayette, then continued on the ridge, then up Garfield which was fine except for the waterfall IN WHICH the trail went down.  Yes, not only are they big boulder rocks, they also have slippery slime on them.  Eventually Fredo and I got to the Galehead Hut where we ate some lunch and caught Mimi and the Brothers.  Since we arrived too early, we had to go on, so we went to try and get work-for-stay at Zealand Hut.  In the way was South Twin Peak, or 1100 ft in .8 of a mile.  Yet again, up up up!  I got to Zealand around 7:40 and they were full, so they sent me and everyone else another half mile where there was a group stealth site. When I looked tired, a chubby worker decided to give me a large piece of vegan cake they had which I packed to share with Fredo, Mimi, the brothers, and Nobody.

From there, our feet touched actual ground for the first time in days and we had an easyish (for the Whites) miles down into Crawford Notch where I saw Tenderfoot, a section hiker doing another section.  Also, Rock Dancer was doing some trail magic and gave us all sodas.

I had a mail drop sent to the General Camp store, 3 miles down the road, so Fredo and I hitched to it, although it was a difficult hitch which took us about half an hour.  A woman with her giant white dog picked us up and on the way, we saw a tourist attraction, a moose!  On the way back, it took us even longer because none of the locals were out, just tourists who seemed to want to wave at as us like we were the moose…”oh look hun, backpackers!”

We did manage to get up to Mizpah Hut that night.  I was super glad that I was going up Webster Cliffs instead of down.  It was literally straight up on cliffs.  It was just like bouldering, just with a huge pack and no crash pads.  Actually, thats what most of this is.  At Mizpah, we were outnumbered by SOBOs, getting newer and newer.  Fredo got us the work-for-stay and I chatted it up with the croo and our first chore was to drink a glass of whiskey because one of the croo members lives 3 blocks from me.

In the morning, we did the sweeping number and a few other chores, then we headed out for the Presidentials.  Fredo and I decided to blue-blaze all the peaks since the AT skirted around over half of them.  So, in the morning, we went up Franklin, Pierce, Eisenhower, and Monroe.  Then we took a break and ate lunch at the Lake of the Clouds Hut.  After that, we went up Mt Washington.

Now, if the rest of the Whites were bad, Washinton was crawling with yuppies.  Yes, I will pass you and your 5 pound day pack while you huff and puff.  Quad-off!  On top, was, well worse because there was the cog road and the auto road.  Some fat tourists tried to get ahead of me to the summit sign but took five minutes to go up one small boulder and then complained about the “hike” from the parking lot to the sign.  That MIGHT have been about 200 feet away and MAYBE 30 ft of elevation gain, and that’s generous.  Maybe you and your kankles should walk up the damn mountain instead of drive and then eat fast food in the OBSERVATORY.  Ridiculous.  I felt like I was in a zoo.  Everyone and their brother were up there because it was a semi clear day on top.

We didn’t stay too long because then we blue blazed up Clay, Jefferson, and Adams as well and there was almost NO wind.  Craaaazy.  Awesome day to be above treeline.  I was rather pissed that I could hear that stupid cog railroad for the next four miles.  I believe Adams was the best peak on the range.

We got in late to the Madison Hut and there were 12 thru-hikers there.  They let us stay for $10 because they literally had no more extra work and there was no where after to kick us out to.  The best part was the faces of some of the actual guests who woke up at 5:30 and saw all the smelly hikers which they seemed to find so entertaining the night before sleeping on the eating tables, benches, and floor.  Their horrified faces made my day.

After we ate their leftover breakfast, we headed up and over Madison which was another knee-killer.  It was such a knee-killer that Fredo, Major Chafage, Buckeye, and I decided to nero and hitch into Gorham from Pinkham Notch.  Once again, we were faced with the same hitching problems.  Where are all the dirty pickups??  Luckily, a friend of Floweasy’s saw us and offered us a ride to the White Birches hostel where we were confronted with 6 more, you guessed it, SOBOs.  We relaxed the rest of the night and watched VH1’s top 100 songs of the 90s until the thunderstorm took out the cable and we missed the top 2.  Bummer.  Well, it has spawned countless conversations on guessing what they were, then singing loudly and terribly through the woods.

The next morning, we slackpacked the rest of the Whites from Pinkham Notch to US Route 2 or 21 miles over the Wildcats, the Carters, and Moriah moutains.  It was a long 13 hour day, even slackpacking.  It was so long we zeroed in Gorham the next day.

Now I need dinner to continue…

I had a bit of an adventure in Hanover, NH.  It started out with staying the night at a “secret” location or rather a “word-of-mouth-only” location with Seedless Joe, Major Chafage, and Buckeye.  We did find that the coop had an amazing selection of beer of which we definitely took advantage of.  The next day we all zeroed.  I was attempting to give Abolitionist, 10 Fiddy, and Groom a chance to catch up.  So, for a day I did some significant ivy-league sophomores and their parents watching while I finished my book, drank some awesome tea, and chatted with Baltimore Jack.  It was a good day to just hang out.  The weather kept sprinkling, so I set up in a coffeeshop which had awesome teas and smoothies.

Around 7, after I got a new book from the second hand bookstore (yet again, another Vonnegut book), I headed to the edge of the soccer field and camped out there.  It still sprinkled, but I had the company of Popeye and 3 sobos.  I did manage to eat a pound of carrots and a small container of hummus…now if I was getting too much fiber before, h-oly shit, literally.  I went back into town to charge my ipod and grab a cup of tea before leaving at a leisurely 9:30ish time.

I ate lunch with Smokestack and Nate Dog who I found by a stream about 2 miles before a shelter 10 miles into the Day.  After numerous sobos all said the water at the shelters sucks until the Whites except the Trapper John shelters, I was clever to pump from the streams.  Now, going to this shelter confused the hell out of me.  First, about a quarter mile out, the DOC (the Dartmouth Outing Club which controls 75 miles of the trail before the Whites), not-so-brilliantly put a random sign cockeyed at an old logging road that said to go .2 more.  From there it said the shelter after that was supposed to be 5.something.  THEN when I hit the shelter “loop” which was really a semi-circle, the sign said the next shelter was a half mile further.

Apparently math is not a subject taught at ivy league schools just like the words weed whacker are not in their vocabulary.

After lunch and some shelter log reading, I went the 6 more miles to Trapper John.  On the way, we had to of course shoot down 1000 or so feet from the Moose Mtn Shelter, then shoot back up 1000 ft to some other mountain which had some awesome ledge views.  The Trapper John shelter was only a half mile from that point, so I sat for an hour or so and enjoyed the view.  It was really an awesome little ledge.

When I got to the shelter I got on the making dinner train and cooked and ate with Smokestack, Nate Dog, Alpine, Popeye and Major Chafage.  I tented that night and had a rather rambunctious mouse getting under my rain fly trying to eat my water bladder.  When I brought that inside, it kept coming and making noise by my head.  I beamed it with the high beam on my headlamp for 30 minutes or so, then it went away.  At about 10:30, Breeze and Bumper came in pretty quietly.   I wouldn’t have heard them if it wasn’t for the mouse.

In the morning, I got a slow start because I was trying to dry my tent fly out after the rain that night.  It was the only thing that was wet.  After the late start, I eventually got the 7 miles to and then up Smarts Mountain where there was a firetower and an old fireman’s cabin.  We went up the long way over a ridge which gave a sweet view of the top and for one of the first times since Virginia, we could see where we were going, not just the green tunnel.

Unfortunately, about halfway up the second bout of 1200ft up, it started drizzling and got all overcast.  It made the rock scrambles I was climbing quite slippery.  When I got to the top, we all huddled into the cabin because it was surprisingly cold and ate lunch.  So, I got no view then.

But I did get a hilarious shelter log in which WAZI wrote in a month ago with an angry letter to the DOC, some of which I will repeat here because it cracked me up forever.  Complaints to the DOC:

1.) 2 out of 4 shelters had logs.  So, what if Veggie comes along in a month and tries to find where Wazi was?

2.) mow the lawn, 5 or 6 feet of grass and thorns is kinda hard to get through

3.) double blaze the roads, no one knows where the hell you’re going once you hit a road

4.) the signs are old and outdated making bad math.

Thank you.  You said everything.  Hat’s off to ya Wazi.

From the top, after a long break, I left the shelter wearing my long sleeve rain jacket, the first time since Virginia that I hiked with long sleeves.  Weird.  Of course, 2 miles down the mountain, I had to take it off then continued.  I grabbed some water at a stream and then headed up the steep Cube Mountain.  I was not too thrilled at first at more difficult elevation change, but on my way up, I just got really happy climbing up.  So happy in fact that I came up with several criteria for defining “real” mountains.

1.) It must have rock scrambles

2.) I might have at least one moment going “shit, I only went a [insert short distance here]”

3.) I must somehow slightly damage a part of me or my equipment

4.) It must have at least one false summit

Now you have it.

I camped on top.  It was SWEEEEET.  I could only half peg down my tent due to the rock slabs everywhere, but I jury rigged it well enough.  It was quite windy and dried out my sweaty nasty hiking clothes.  I cooked dinner and watched the sunset.  A section hiker named B ended up camping there with me too.  The company was nice.  I tried to go to sleep early, but I read awhile.

But the best part: I set the mental alarm clock to 5am ish and it worked.  I got up and watched the sunrise in my sleeping bag.  Beautiful.

I meandered the whole day to the Glencliff hostel and post office where I am now.  Nothing too memorable except more pissed off-ness at the DOC for the above stated reasons.  But reeeeally now, you ivy league, sweater-vest-wearing, vera-bradley-tote-bag, DOC bumkins…clean up your section.

By the way, I can see how many of you computer sitting friends view this and very few of you are commenting.  This is discouraging.  I guess I’m not funny enough…I’ll read some more Vonnegut and try to get more satirical.