Where did we last leave off? There have been so many miles and so many ups and downs through New Hampshire and Maine! As we made our way north the talk of New Hampshire and “The Whites” was all we kept hearing about. Every south-bounder felt the need to tell us what we were in for and the horror stories kept creeping into every conversation! Would we make it to Katahdin, were we prepared for Southern Maine? The noise and chatter were overwhelming at times. The anxiety of actually getting to “The Whites” was actually worse than actually hiking through them!
We managed to meet up with Happy, Yoga Taco and Spooner in Vermont and hiked with them into New Hampshire. Our plan was to hike in, grab a slice of free pizza and a beer, resupply and then head out the next day but the weather got the best of us. It poured that night and so we had to set up our tent on the outskirts of a baseball field in the rain, everything was soaked! We woke up the next morning and headed to the food co-op to grab our resupply and some coffee and then walked to the community center to lay out all of our gear so that it could dry. We finally made it out of town after procrastinating for a few hours but we were happy to have dry gear!
We had some good days of hiking with the group but the weather was definitely getting cooler at night. We spent one evening in a cabin with about 10 people all sprawled out on the floor and in the morning we woke to chilly temperatures and rain spitting every which way. We managed to get ourselves moving and out the door. In one town we stopped into Bill Ackerly’s house. He is known as the ice cream man! He has been letting hikers enjoy his house for many years. He offers you stories, an ice cream, a place to charge your phone. You name it he is there to help! While we were sitting there a familiar face walked up, Cash’s buddy, Bengal John! We had been trying to catch him for a week or so and finally managed to do so! They were happy to see each other and chatted about the journey and plans for heading north!
Cash, Happy, Spooner and I made it to Hikers Welcome hostel one evening after a long day of hiking. Just as we walked in it started raining, unfortunately for Cash and I, there were no more bunks available due to the high number of “yellow blazers” *cough*, I mean hikers. We had to pitch the tent in the rain again after a few hours of trying to wait it out. We were not happy campers that evening. We did our laundry and watched Lord of the Rings until we finally decided to crawl into our wet tent. In the morning we decided to wait out the rain as much as we could before hiking into the Whites!
Our first big challenge was Moosilauke. Happy, Cash and I set out around 11:00 to hike up our first mountain. The terrain was rocky and wet so we were pretty slow going at first but the climb wasn’t too bad. We hit a carriage trail towards the summit and had only .8 miles to the very top. It was chilly and the rain was spitting but the weather wasn’t too bad.. So we thought. We passed a guy coming down off the summit and we asked him how it was. He quickly replied, “I’m finally thawing out!” We didn’t quite know what he meant by that until we got above the tree line. We quickly noticed the temperature dropping and the rain coming down a little harder so we through on our rain jackets and continued on. Happy was hiking ahead of us and so we hit the summit only to realize that we were not prepared for what we were about to walk through! The wind was so strong that it was pushing us over as we continued to the top! We looked at each other and quickly realized that we had to keep going, and fast! We finally made it to the summit where Happy popped up from behind a cairn with a deer in headlights look! Cash shouted to her that we needed to keep moving and we managed to find the direction of the trail and pushed on through the rain and wind. The hike back down was slow and slippery. The trail followed a waterfall the whole way down that added more water to the already wet rocks!
The next day was the Kinsmans! This was probably our hardest and slowest day. The terrain was rocky and very technical which made the day drag on. You had to watch your every step and by the time we got down to the bottom it was already getting dark. Luckily, a man passed us hiking with his two dogs and offered to give us, Yoga Taco and Shine a ride back into town! We were extremely grateful for the ride after such an exhausting day. We got dropped off in town and walked to Chet’s house (local AT angel who lets people sleep at his house). Happy, Scavenger, Cash and I all went to dinner that night and devoured some burgers!
We got a ride the next morning from Kizmit, our neighbor at the motel we stayed at. Her husband, Beekeeper, was on the trail and she was doing trail magic due to an injury. We actually managed to run into him on trail and at a couple of the huts. Our next challenge was going to be Franconia Ridge. The view was beautiful all along the ridge! We had perfect, clear weather which made the hike pretty amazing! We made it over the Twins and to the Zealand Falls Hut where Cash ran into another friendly face from the trail, Caroline! We chatted with her for a bit and then headed back out on the trail. In the Whites the AMC runs these huts that offer people the chance to sleep in bunks, have meals prepared for them, etc. As thru-hikers, we try to stay in the huts as “work for stays” where you can camp out on the floor of the dinning hall for free if you offer to do dishes or some chores. We managed to make it to the Lake of the Clouds Hut one of the evenings right before Mt Washington, the big dog mountain! We made it into the hut at about 3:00. The weather was still beautiful and clear so we decided to trek up to the summit of Mt Washington and get a good view while we had the chance. We knew the next day was supposed to be overcast with 75mph wind gusts so we left our bags at the hut and hiked up to the top. After all the fuss about Mt Washington, we had finally made it! The climb was pretty easy up the the top, just some boulder scrambling and big rocks but we made it! The view was pretty amazing and we were very fortunate to be able to see it on a clear day! We got back down to the hut that evening and did some dishes after dinner so that we could stay that night on the floor. After a rough night of sleep (lots of people shuffling to a from the bathrooms with headlights on) we woke up to rain, wind and cold! This was going to be a fun day! We already knew the hike up wouldn’t be too bad but we were concerned about the wind, especially after our experience on Moosilauke! We threw on our rain gear and and some gloves and caps and headed up around 11:00. The winds weren’t as bad as we thought they were going to be but it was still pretty cold at the top! We hung out in the visitor’s center at the top with Ryan and Mongoose until we were able to thaw out a bit and then headed back out to head back down the mountain. The hike down was pretty rocky but the clouds rolling through the mountains was pretty breathtaking!
That evening we stealth camped on the side of the mountain with views of the stars up above! In the morning we packed up and headed to Carter Hut. We only made it about 8 miles but I was not feeling well by the time we arrived at the hut. My stomach was in knots and as soon as I tried to eat lunch I got sick. I was extremely tired and feeling pretty awful so we ended up staying at the hut that night with about 9 other thru-hikers. In the morning I tried to eat again but couldn’t keep any food down. Despite the fact that I couldn’t keep food down we had to head out and continue hiking. The hut was closing down for the winter so we couldn’t stay! The climb out was brutal! I had no energy and every step was draining the last bit I did have. At the top we ran into 3 thru-hikers that had stayed at the same hut as we had that night. They mentioned they were getting over stomach problems too and that they were going to take a side trail down to get a ride to a hostel. I was relieved, I hiked the side trail with Hulkspiration down to the road and managed to get a ride to the White Mountain Hostel where I camped out for a day or two, just sleeping an trying to eat what I could! The people there were super friendly and very helpful! That stay was probably one of the best hostels! Cash finished the section to the hostel and we decided I still needed some time to regain my strength. I got a shuttle to the next town over and stayed at the hostel there until Cash showed up a few days laters. Even after those few days of sleeping I was still not feeling 100% but we managed to head out of Rangley and after a few days back on the trail I was feeling better and able to get back into the swing of it!
Maine has been beautiful! The leaves on the trees are starting to change to vibrant reds, yellows and oranges! The terrain is a bit rough, lots of rocks and roots to watch out for! The weather has been getting colder so we have days where we start off with all our winter gear or and then as we hike we strip everything back off! One of the days we hiked it rained pretty much the whole day, we made it to the shelter that night with Bengal John and Scribbles. They slept in their tent but we opted for the shelter so we could have dry gear! Ryan, our buddy from Mt Washington, showed up that night at about 10 and a few more ended up filling up the shelter throughout the evening. The entire night it poured and in the morning the trail was flooded. We were walking walking through ankle to knee deep water all day. At some point the water was rushing down the rocks like a water slide. We knew that there was a river that we were supposed to ford and we anxiously hiked toward it! We knew the water was going to be high at the river, we just didn’t know how high! Ryan has managed to get to it first and waited for Cash and I to get there. The once crossable stream had turned into a waist-deep raging river with fast currents capable of washing you down the river! What was worse was that it was cold and we were all already wet! Bengal John and Scribbles showed up a few minutes later. We walked up and down the river to see if we could find an alternative path but we had no luck, we realized it was getting dark and the temperature was dropping! We walked back to a dirt road and miraculously got service. We called the Farmhouse hostel nearby and they picked us up! We were saved! We got a shower, warm beds, laundry and dinner that night!
We are trucking through Maine and passed the 2000 mile mark! We can’t believe how close we are to the end! We are hiking with Ryan and a girl named Dixie now! We stayed at Pierce Pond Camps last night which was quite a fun experience! The place runs off generators so there is no electricity in the cabins, just the wood burning stove and kerosene lamps! Tim made us an amazing breakfast in the morning of pancakes with fresh fruit, eggs, and sausage! We headed out early to catch the ferry (a guy in a canoe) at the Kennebec River. We are now enjoying town before we head to Monson in 2 days than the 100 Mile Wilderness! Whoa!