This morning I woke on the floor of my second hut, but thank goodness Galehead has no mosquito problem; I hate wearing bug spray to bed. All but Jukebox woke by 6:00 while breakfast was being prepared for the guests.
We packed our packs and moved them to the chilly porch. Incline and Politician were able to leave at 7:00, having completed their chores last night. The rest of us waited our turn for breakfast on the benches out front.
When we were invited into the kitchen to serve ourselves breakfast from the leftovers, we were not disappointed! There was egg casserole, hash browns, canned peaches, and homemade coffee cake. We ate well and had seconds. I also grabbed six coffee cake squares for brunch later and put them in my pack. They were heavy!
We swept the dining room, four bunk rooms, and hallway, then used scrubbing pads and danced around on them across the soapy wet kitchen floor, which was then squeegeed and wet vacuumed. Jukebox, Tandem, and I said our goodbyes and left at 9:15 while Five Star was still packing.
Immediately outside the hut we began our climb of 1,100 feet to the top of South Twin Mountain. On the way up, I took a shot of the Galehead hut below. It started to rain with touches of thunder. Because we were split up, Jukebox took the wrong side trail for more than two miles across more mountain ridges while we stayed on the AT down a long way to Zealand Falls hut.
By the time that I arrived, there the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to break through. Bacon Dog, Spruce, Go Far, and Whitey were there with Tandem. I ate five of my coffee cake squares, and Go Far was basically begging for one but I gave it to Tandem. The cook at the hut brought us homemade granola, which was fruity and warm. Tandem shared the bowl with Go Far, who questioned why we were the favored hikers for food from huts.
Twist showed up later as we were preparing to leave. She made quick business of lunch and getting water. Tandem bought a cheap poncho to better protect her from the rain, especially if it is raining on Mount Washington.
The caretaker from the next shelter campsite five miles ahead really wanted us to come “party” with them there tonight. We had plans to camp by the Saco River below Mount Webster eight miles away, which would leave us only eleven miles to climb in the morning to the Lakes of the Clouds hut, 1.3 miles from the top of Mount Washington.
The sun had really started to shine warmly, drying off our wet stuff. Bacon Dog and I found a half dozen snakes, all racers, sunning themselves on rocks in front of the hut. Jukebox came in as we were putting on our packs and caught flack for getting lost.
By the time we headed out, we had a small cloud of NOBO hikers — Jukebox, Tandem, Go Far, Spruce, Whitey, Bacon Dog, Twist, and me in the back — doing some of the easiest stretch of flat hiking in the Whites. It was 4.5 miles of flat or slightly inclined, groomed trail with some rocks, roots, and wood beam pairs for wet spots. We joked about imitating the gang from West Side Story with our fingers snapping in unison if we passed a SOBO hiker.
We reached the Ethan Pond campsite and did go visit the fun caretaker. We snacked and chatted with her in front of the shelter, where a few older SOBO and section hikers were already set up for the night. We wished everyone well and left together. Bacon Dog had hung back at the trail intersection and fell in behind us.
The rest of the hike was slightly uphill and then down to a railroad track. We found trail magic in the form of various flavors of Coke products, like fruity Fanta flavors and ice teas. We sat there hoping for no train and enjoying the flavorful sodas. I grabbed the six Coke Rewards numbers from the soda cases, each worth ten points.
It was .4 miles to the Saco River from there, which included crossing the railroad, walking through a parking lot, crossing US 302, and a taking a gravel trail to the bridge over the river. Along the gravel trail was more trail magic, a block of ice with Coca Cola and Sprite cans sticking out of it.
Tandem, Jukebox, Twist, Spruce, Whitey, and I set up camp stretched out along the river and road, and most of us got together on the bridge to cook our dinner. Tandem had mixed hotdogs into her pasta, but due to the slope, her food spilled on the bridge. She recovered and ate most of it. I had two Ramens and traded one of my chicken flavor packets for Jukebox’s shrimp flavor packet.
Whitey and Spruce joined us after dinner to chat about summiting Mount Washington and how the rainy weather may affect the views. Go Far had hitched to the general store two miles away but wasn’t back yet. Bacon Dog hadn’t come by, so we figured he was stealth camping behind us on the trail. We said our good-nights and went to bed by 20:00.
As I was completing this blog writing, a moose came through the campsite from the direction of the road and passed ten feet from Tandem’s hammock! I’m glad it wasn’t a bear, because my food bag was hung only eight feet up on a tree limb.