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.
The 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.
The 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.