Day 133

Day 133

At 5:45 am, the lights came on and coffee was started, waking us thru hikers in the Lonesome Lake Hut dining room. We all deflated our pads, stuffed our sleeping bags, packed up, and moved out to the front deck to eat breakfast from our food bags. The sun rose straight over the mountain we were about to climb across the lake.

By 6:30 Twist, Go Far, Spruce, and I started hiking the three miles down to Franconia Notch and I-93 / NH 3. We chatted, which made the miles go by quickly. At the road, they split off to hitch into North Woodstock while I continued under the road on the AT and started the 2,850 foot climb up to Franconia Ridge.

Week_19_Day_133cI tried texting Tandem to let her know that I was hiking up to the Presidentials  but had no success. I reached Franconia Ridge and loved the early views of mountains Little Haystack, Lincoln, and Lafayette. I turned to the northeast and headed through the short pines to the top of Little Haystack Mountain.

After that, the trail was above the tree line for two miles. I could see the Saturday crowd of day hikers strewn across Mounts Lincoln and Lafayette. I made great time hiking with my full pack past most of the day hikers to reach the top of Mount Lincoln at 5,089 feet. I took a few pictures and kept hiking to Mount Lafayette at 5,291 where I had my picture taken with Mount Washington in the distance. We should be going over it early on Tuesday morning (day 136)!

I had lunch on Lafayette, noticing later that I had set my pack down by an AT blaze on the rock. Still no cell signal, so I was unable to text Tandem.

Before me loomed Mount Garfield, 3.5 miles away. I left Lafayette at 13:00 reached the top of Garfield by 15:30.

I knew that the Galehead Hut was three miles away, and most Huts prefer that hikers not show up before 17:00, so I shot for arriving at 17:15. When I got there, Politician and Incline were on the porch and had been since before 15:00, which surprised me. Turns out the crew had a lot of subs who seemed more easy-going.Week_19_Day_133d

I introduced myself to Beth and was assigned to sweep the guests rooms in the morning, then hung out and talked for an hour with Politician and Incline. Incline had been with IBM and knew that Jeff Foxworthy had worked there and had left the company for comedy with help from his friends. I told him that I was one of those friends, and he was impressed.

Around 18:15, Tandem and Jukebox showed up, and we were happy to see each other. Beth got their names for chore assignments and dinner head count. We talked with a guy there who had thru hiked the AT in 1996. It was interesting to compare gear weights, phone use, and guides available. Five Star showed up at 19:00, and they even let her slide in for dinner and a chore. This substitute crew was so nice and accommodating.

Like last night at Lonesome Lake Hut, we were invited to eat at 19:30 following the guest’s dinner. We had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, bread, cranberry sauce, gravy, and brownies. It was all you could eat, and it was delicious!

We sat in the dining room with the guests playing games and chatting until lights went out at 22:00, when we made our beds on the floor between the benches.


Day 132

Day 132

It was nice waking up with a chill in the air and no bugs buzzing around the tent. Our stealth campsite was near the trail, and while packing, I saw a couple of NOBO through hikers walk by and wave. Tandem left the site first and I followed soon after. Jukebox had issue with his contacts and left later.

He passed me before I climbed Mount Wolf. I stopped to see the view and found my 4,444th geocache. I used it as a milestone and called it into Podcacher using their new app. Twist, who we hadn’t seen since Harpers Ferry, WV, caught up with me there. We chatted for a bit, then I took off.

I hiked down to the Eliza Brooks shelter and decided to have lunch since it was 12:30. Tandem was there, and Twist showed up 10 minutes later. They both left, and I finished my third PB&J with chips, which left me full for the hike up South Kinsman Mountain. Before I left, Go Far showed up with Spruce. Spruce and I chatted about work and programming job opportunities for him. They settled in the shelter for lunch, and I left.

Week_19_Day_132One complaint I have about the AT in NH is the lack of white blazes. And when there were any they were faded and hard to see.

Climbing South Kinsman Mountain was not easy. There were many large rocks to climb over and up, which made my hiking rate just 1.5 miles per hour. I saw many frogs and toads along the trail, and the view from South Kinsman Mountain was fantastic.

Then came North Kinsman Mountain after a hike through the saddle between them. I caught up with Tandem and Jukebox at the Kinsman Pond shelter on the way down. This is the first shelter in the Whites that has a Caretaker and charges $8 to tent or stay in the shelter.

We decided to go into North Woodstock to Chet’s Place hostel, which was 4.5 miles down to the highway from there. Jukebox took off down the large rock descent. I followed, and Tandem caught up 1.8 miles later at the Lonesome Lake Hut. I was exhausted and decided to see about us staying there for work for food.

The problem was that Jukebox had passed there already. We found that we could eat and stay there in exchange for talking with guests about our thru hiking experiences and answering questions. We called Jukebox’s cell but got voicemail immediately. Tandem decided to go down to the road to let him know and go to the hostel with him.Week_19_Day_132c

I stayed and chatted with Twist, Go Far, and Spruce, who were all working for dinner and a stay on the dining room floor. After the guests ate, we were invited to eat from the leftovers. It was great! There was rice with chicken and gravy, corn, salad, breads, and garbanzo bean soup. We ate so well and were so happy!

After dinner, Go Far and Spruce did dishes while Twist and I discussed our thru hiking experiences and gear and answered questions with a small group consisting of a family and a couple of members of the AMC. The talk went very well. After that, the four of us said our goodnights and settled on the floor of the dining room. It had been a tough and rocky 12 mile day for me.

Remember When…

Thank you to my friend Pat for this text/photo last week:

Did a raft trip on the Nantahala River today and visited the NOC trading post where the AT logbook is located.

This entry from March 28.

211 people have signed this guidebook since Jerry and Bennett signed it in March.

Seems like such a long time ago…


Day 131

Day 131

I woke up a few times overnight due to the mosquitoes and the hard rain on the tarp top of the second bunk room. I felt that those that stayed there should get a discounted rate of $15, like those tenting. My plan was to get to the Jeffers Brook shelter by 8:00 to meet up with Tandem and who had hiked there in the rain last night.

I had breakfast from my food bag and said goodbye to Hoss, who was leaving to slack pack 26 miles back to here. I also spoke with Mio who wasWeek_19_Day_131d going to a hospital in Lincoln or Woodstock for his mental confusion condition. I wished him well and told him that we would miss him.

I paid my bill, hiked out of the Hikers Welcome Hostel, and was back on the trail by 7:30. I avoided mowers cutting grass along the road and entered the woods to find the second river I needed to ford so far on the hike. I swapped my boots and socks for Crocs and crossed, which delayed my arrival at the shelter until 8:20.

I sat with Tandem and Jukebox while they drank coffee and chatted about the day’s plans before hiking out. The climb up Mount Moosilauke marked our first day hiking in the White Mountains State Park. Tandem and Jukebox passed me on the way up the 3,800 foot climb.

When I reached the top, I was surprised that the climb hadn’t seemed that hard and was happy to be on top of our first White Mountain.

We hunkered down from the cold wind behind rocks the rocks on the bald and put on our warm jackets or windbreakers. We took pictures of the mountains while waiting for the low clouds to blow by, then headed down the very steep four mile descent of the north side of Mount Moosilauke.Week_19_Day_131a.jpeg

It was very rocky, steep trail that followed a waterfall creek. It took me two hours to descend, but the waterfall was beautiful.

The trail intersected NH 112, where I found Tandem and Jukebox. We started hitching to get into Lincoln, NH, and got a ride with an older guy going back into town for a lemon for his trout and his gin & tonic. We chatted, and he dropped us in the shopping center with Price Chipper, Family Dollar, a USPS, and a Chinese restaurant.

We visited all four, restocking and eating dinner. We left there at 17:00 to hitch back to the trail. Again we got lucky, and a woman named Christine picked us up. We were hiking again by 17:30 with plans to go seven miles to the Eliza Brook shelter, but we made it only halfway. We stealth camped in a site west of the trail that I picked. We will be doing this a lot in the Whites around the AMC managed huts there.

Day 130

Day 130

I wanted to get an early start on today’s six miles and get them behind me before 15:00. I woke up at 5:30 and had eaten and packed by 6:30. I said goodbye to Mio, who was also up and packing.

There was a big 1,800 foot climb up Mount Cube to start. I took a long break at the top with a great view of the Whites. There was a 2,000 foot drop on the other side, and I moved at a good pace but was still doing only 2.5 miles per hour due to the climbs.

After the Ore Hill campsite, I stopped at the top of Ore Hill. The campsite had had a shelter until it burned down in 2011. As I was eating, a SOBO thru hiker named Andy came up the hill and joined me to take a break. We talked about the Hikers Welcome Hostel, and he asked whether I was staying there. I told him that I wanted to, but was short of cash. Andy pulled out his wallet, which was the same orange Z-Pack wallet that I have, and gave me $30! I noticed that he had seen the patches on my pack, so maybe it was the ATC or Philmont patches. I thanked him, shook his hand, and we hiked away from each other.

Week_19_Day_130.jpegAt 13 miles, I started the day’s last climb 650 feet up Mount Mist. The rest of the afternoon was downhill to NH 25. The Hikers Welcome Hostel was .2 miles to the east. I arrived and found several thru hikers hanging out. Tandem and Jukebox came in five minutes later planning to go on to the Jeffers Brook shelter, but a big thunderstorm was expected.

We all took a ride from the hostel to the convenience store in Warren, NH. I bought a half gallon of milk, a bag of kettle chips, and a Hot Pocket pair of pizzas. On the way back, we had a good view of Mount Moosilauke with a thunderstorm looming over it.

We ate dinner when we got back to the hostel. Jukebox took off for the shelter, but Tandem waited on me to finish dinner and decide whether or not I was going to the shelter. As soon as it started to pour rain, I told her that I was staying and she left.

We spent the night watching Happy Gilmore, Punch Drunk Love, and Talladega Nights. I stayed in the second bunk house. I plan to leave early and hike to the shelter where Tandem and Jukebox stayed so we can hike over the 3,800 foot Mount Moosilauke together.

Map View: Days 106-120

AT Record Holders


[Matt] Kirk, 32, on Wednesday night [8/7/2013] broke the unsupported speed record for a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

What that means, exactly, is that Kirk, a schoolteacher who most recently was living in Western North Carolina with his wife, Lily, is the fastest human to hike the 2,185-mile-long Appalachian Trail, without assistance. He carried all his own food and water, mailing himself supplies ahead of time, and walking out of the trail to retrieve them – no being carted around in a car.

He started at trail’s northern terminus at Mt. Katahdin, Maine, and arrived at the summit of Springer Mountain, Ga., at 7:20 p.m. in 58 days, 9 hours, 40 minutes.

Read More…


Officially, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy doesn’t recognize speed records on the AT. But the rest of us sure do—which is why Jennifer Pharr Davis is our woman of the hour. On July 31, [2011] this string bean lean 28-year-old finished the fastest thru-hike the grand daddy of all hiking trails has ever seen: 2,175+ miles in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes. She hiked north to south, with a support team lead by her husband Brew, knocking 1 day, 2 hours and 11 minutes off the standing record (set by Andrew “Traildog” Thompson in 2005).

Q&A With Davis

Day 129

Day 129

It is time to start pacing and planning for the White Mountains National Forest. But first, there is the 3,800 foot ascent of Mount Moosilauke in two days. We plan to do it Thursday morning starting from the Jeffers Brook shelter, which is 33 miles from the Moose Mountain shelter. We woke, packed, and discussed the pacing over breakfast. We agreed on splitting it in half, although there are more elevation changes today. We left the campsite by 9:00, and I left first, by way of the wall-less privy. We were all headed to the first water source three miles down the mountain.

While we were getting water, the Kallin family came down and stopped with two other NOBO thru hikers. The ten of us made up a tight NOBO cloud. We reminded everyone about Bill “free ice cream” Ackerly over the next mountain at the Grafton Turnpike.

The four of us arrived first and got our free ice cream bar and $.50 Coke and plugged in our batteries and phones while eating lunch on the back deck. Bill showed up, and we made introductions. He had heard about Tandem and me already. We told him about the Kallin family coming in, which got him excited.

JukeboxThe Kallins arrived and had their treats. Jukebox, Mio, the Kallin kids, and the other two NOBO hikers started a croquet game in the backyard. Tandem watched, and I talked to the Kallin parents about each other and our backgrounds. I told them about my family. Hoss showed up and joined us for lunch.

Tandem came up from the game, and we decided to leave. It was 13:30, and we had a 2,200 foot climb ahead of us up Smarts Mountain. As soon as I had on my pack, the croquet game broke up.

I doubled back on the gravel road to the main road to take the AT since I had skipped a short section; that allowed Tandem to get ahead of me, though she didn’t know that. I soon passed a concrete mile marker post that is eleven miles less than the current mileage. Jukebox passed me there, and Mio passed me when I took a break about halfway up at a great rocky view. We hit a set wooden and metal rebar steps together.

I got up the four mile climb by 15:30. There is a fire tower on top with a great view of the Whites. As more hikers showed up, we swapped positions in the tower. There was a tricky trap door to move through when entering and leaving the top of the tower. A total of 11 NOBO hikers ended up sitting at the bottom. Hoss had snacks to share, including extra M&Ms.

Week_19_129e.jpegThe party slowly broke up in the same order that it had started, with our group of four leaving first and heading the four miles down Smarts Mountain. It was a much more smooth descent than it had been an ascent. We all stopped at the footbridge over South Jacobs Brook where other NOBO hikers were resting. Everyone got much needed water, and many cooked dinner on the bridge.

Eventually, everyone except Tandem, Jukebox, Mio, Hoss, and me left for another camping area a little further up, and we set up tents where there was space. I wrote two days’ worth of blog updates.

I told Mio that I was waking at 5:30 and leaving by 6:30 in the morning in order to spend time at the Hikers Welcome hostel before moving on to the Jeffers Brook shelter at the base of Mount Moosilauke, which is 16 miles from us. We did 17 miles today.