Saturday, August 31, 2013

100 Mile Face Plant Wilderness

We have escaped the 100 mile wilderness. It took us 7 days. Our AT guide is completely soaked and mangled for that section, so trying to figure out our daily mileage would require me to be like Encyclopedia Brown, peeling back through the layers of pulpy time with a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers. Thus, I am going to have to neglect my usual custom of spelling out our daily miles for you. In order to make up for this devastating oversight, I have drawn you a picture of a winged velociraptor on roller skates:

Please forgive me, as I'm sure you are now choking for breath from the sheer beauty of my creation. I am using my dad's laptop, and I drew it with a touch pad, like a real artist.


As Dumptruck and I passed over Abol Bridge, we got our first real, stunning view of Katahdin over the river. I didn't take a photo of it, mostly because we are walking away from it, and I'm practicing some purposeful blindness. Abol bridge itself is the last Northern road crossing before entering into the 100 mile wilderness. We walked slowly over the bridge, Dumptruck goggling at the beauty of Katahdin while I stumbled around on the bridge's footpath like a child who is trying desperately not to look at the pile of Christmas presents under the tree until Christmas morning because she would become an instant victim to temptation. Katahdin was on our right, and thus, I was looking with a fair amount of determination to the left. A giant, grey school bus trundled up onto the bridge and put on their brakes, presumably to get a good look at the view.

I grinned up at the school bus, unable to see the occupants as the sun reflected brightly off of the dusty rectangular windows. Suddenly, one of the windows slid down, and a cheerful voice hollered out at me,

"Hey you dirty hippies! Yeah, you! You guys are awesome!"

"YOU guys are awesome!" I shouted back, my assessment of awesome-ness resting only on the fact that I was being yelled at from inside of a school bus ostensibly in the middle of the woods. Clearly the bus driver had some skills.

"Where are you going?" The voice asked again.

"We were just going to find somewhere to camp. Where are YOU going?"

"Get on the bus and find out! Get on the bus!!" Before this invitation could even be completed, a round of encouraging cheers exploded from inside the bus. There were a lot of people in there, and their mood, as far as I could tell from outside the bus, was enticingly festive.

I turned around to look at Dumptruck, my eyebrows raised in excitement, and found that Dumptruck was staring at the bus with a goofy, lop-sided open-mouthed grin, his hands curled up under his chin like a toddler who has been presented with an entire suitcase full of chocolate bars. I would like to say that we are so very connected on such a deep level that we don't even need words to express how we feel to each other, but I would be lying. We typically know what each other is thinking because our facial expressions are as subtle as bricks through windows.

We got on the bus.

It was a good decision.

The bus was full of a weekend group of white water rafters, who were being led by several rafting guides. Everyone was in an explosively good mood, and there was a tumult of yelling, high fives and general revelry. I was asked to play my ukulele for everyone, and I sat up on the back of one of the bus seats, facing back toward everyone's eager faces, getting bounced around crazily as the bus rocketed around the back roads of Baxter State Park.

At some point, Joe the bus driver told me that he had just gotten a new tee shirt from the Abol Bridge Camp Store, and that he wanted to give Dumptruck and I a present for our journey.

"You can either have this shirt," he indicated the new shirt, which boasted about the 100 mile wilderness, "Or you can have this shirt," and he indicated the rafting company staff shirt that he was already wearing.

I gleefully pointed to the one he was wearing, and he immediately took it off of his back, to the soundtrack of the rest of the bus hooting and hollering at him. He put on his new shirt, and I put on his old shirt over my hiking clothes. Even though it was a cotton shirt that had been worn all day on the back of a grown man bus driver, it still smelled better than my hiking clothes. These are the sorts of things one should consider before one decides to take on the endeavor of hiking the Appalachian Trail. You will always smell bad, and everyone else in the world will smell marginally better than you, no matter what. Unless they give you their clothes right off their back, then you just get to smell like them for a while.

Apparently the group had spent the day rafting, and then had convinced the bus driver to tool around a few spots to look for moose. We did not successfully find any moose, but we became instant buddies with the rafting guides. They invited Dumptruck and I back to their beautiful campsite on a lake, fed us an enormous meal from the grill that included strawberry shortcake for dessert, and we spent the evening hanging out with 40 previous strangers who were all, by some stroke of luck, extremely cool.

As the sky settled into darkness and a thick blanket of stars gently enveloped the horizon, Dumptruck and I floated out into the middle of the eerily still lake on one of the rafts, alongside several other folks, new companions and friends. We craned our necks upwards as enormous celestial beings registered themselves as only tiny pinpricks of light glowing reflected in our eyes. Speechlessness was the only gift we could offer the universe.

The next morning they fed us a staggering meal of eggs and hash browns, and then drove us back to the trail in the school bus. Dumptruck and I waved goodbye as they drove away, then walked a few feet into the beginning of the 100 mile wilderness. Silence, and the sound of a few distant birds, echoed loudly in the contrasting ringing in our ears from the fun the night before. We didn't know what the wilderness had in store for us, but we felt assured that we had, at least, started it right.

That evening, a mile or so away from our intended lean-to for camping, I slipped on a wet root, twisted bizarrely on my left knee and landed quite hard in a pile of rocks. I lay in pain for several agonizing moments, my eyes squeezed shut, still braced for the cranial impact that didn't come. I tentatively opened one eye and saw a spike of granite that was so close as to be out of focus. As an unofficial trail inspector, I can tell you that up close, the trail just before the Rainbow Spring Lean-To is made mostly of dirt, rocks, and roots. I think I probably could have made this assessment from a standing position, but sometimes duty calls, and one has to really get down in and inspect that trail. I am happy to oblige. Or rather, I should say that my stumble-y feet are happy to oblige, as they made sure I did close trail inspections all throughout the hundred mile wilderness.

I was quite relieved not to have hit my head, but I had still managed to sprain my left wrist and take an impressive swath of skin off of my knee. Bending my left knee was quite painful, and Dumptruck walked with me as I limped along like a pirate whose peg-leg was crafted by a drunk carpenter. We made it to the lean-to, and assessed our situation. We could turn around and leave the wilderness. Or, we could keep going.

If you have been reading this blog with any amount of memory retention, you may remember that Dumptruck and I have more or less worked our way through an entire First Aid handbook through self-injury, and it hasn't yet stopped us.

The next day I tripped and fell, again, on the exact same side of my body, on my already sprained and swollen wrist. I had wrapped my wrist and knee in sports tape, which incidentally protected me from any further road rash. After I fell, Dumptruck ran over and took my pack off of me. Instead of getting up, I just continued to lay face-down in the middle of the trail, sprawled out like I had fallen out of a passing airplane.

"Are you okay?" Dumptruck said, quite concerned.

"Yeth," I mumbled into the dirt, sighing deeply. Dumptruck sat down in the middle of the trail next to me and patted my back.

"Apparently the trail wants me to be parallel rather than perpendicular," I mused after a few moments of silence. I turned my head to the side and looked into the woods, resting my cheek against a small pile of wet leaves. "Apparently it needs lots of hugs. I'm going to try just staying like this for a while, to give the trail what it wants, so that it stops having to yank me down here."

"Roger that," Dumptruck said amiably, taking off his own pack and continuing to sit next to my prone form until I was ready to get up. We stayed that way, me face-down in the dirt, he sitting nearby and looking up at the sky, until we heard a rustling in the woods. I opened my eyes again and saw a pair of small red squirrels, one furiously chasing the other one, directly at my face. Due to our prolonged stationary silence, they were not aware of our presence until the front-runner squirrel was about 18 inches from me. At that point his eyes went from being tiny beady black eyes to being slightly larger tiny beady black eyes in his sudden fear. He tried to change direction so quickly that he looked a little like Wil E. Coyote, his feet spinning in place for a few paces until he could get purchase enough to make a 90 degree left turn. His pursuer darted in the opposite direction. I feel reasonably certain that I can now add "able to solve woodland creature conflicts through the sheer terror of my presence" to my resume.

The next day we got caught in an insane thunderstorm, where the lightning was crashing so closely to us that I was actually prompted to tell Dumptruck that I loved him, just in case one or both of us was about to meet our untimely fork-in-toaster end. We didn't die (so far as I know), and made it to a lean-to where we met 3 other NoBo-ers named Funny Bone! Pippin and StarChild. The 5 of us got along famously, and we stayed up far past our bedtime laughing and philosophizing while the thunderstorm raged overhead. None of us really dried out our clothes, but our spirits were far from dampened.

A few days later, I was at a lean-to with a few other hikers and I was standing next to a "bench" constructed of a gigantic log that had been long-ago nailed into two slightly smaller giant logs. One of the other hikers was sitting on the log bench, and when he stood up, the entire thing broke and tipped over. Directly onto my right leg. It slammed against the bones in my calf and wrenched me downward, pinning my leg underneath for several moments until a few people could lift it up. Meanwhile, a stream of very unladylike curse words issued forth from somewhere... probably from my mouth. I was absolutely not at all upset with the hiker, as it was only the fault of the bench. Or, should I say, the fault of the trail that cannot seem to stop hugging me.

We continued to hike, though I must say that I was hobbling for most of the time, and my log-leg is still purpley and swollen where it got pinned. None of the injuries are really serious at all, but put together (wrist, knee, leg), I feel a little bit like a rag doll that has been too-well loved and  badly sewn back together. My parents met us at the southern terminus of the hundred mile wilderness, and they are taking EXTREMELY good care of us. Slack-packing and food and staying in motels, oh my! Also, they brought along their dog, Dodger, who is a saint. Dumptruck volunteered to "proxy hike" for me for a couple of days, meaning he is hiking for the both of us while I rest my rickety bones.

A really fun part about going South Bound has been running into countless Northbounders who we had never met, and/or had met a long time ago and thought we would never see again. I have been taking quick pictures of each one we pass, and at the end, I will post one giant yearbook post of sorts of all the folks I was able to get a snapshot of. In spite of the trail loving me just a little too hard, the hundred mile wilderness was lovely, and full of so much beauty and energy in the form of Northbounders at the end of their journey. I felt very privileged to be able to see so many faces that we otherwise would never have seen again.

Clever Girl

Shout-out to my AWESOME SISTER NELLE AND BROTHER NATE for driving Dumptruck and I up to the base of Katahdin last week and hiking with us for a few miles! It was a glorious fun time, and I will always treasure the memory of the 4 of us driving down the highway in rural Maine at 11pm at night, blasting Katy Perry and screaming at the top of our lungs.

Whistle and Grim update, they were in Rangeley, Maine, and we'll probably cross their path within a few days!

My apologies for the lack of photos this round; as we were in the wilderness for 7 days, I was unable to ever charge my iPod, so I left it off almost all of the time unless it was to take photos of NoBo-ers.

This is what 7 days of hiker food looks like.

Nelle, me and Nate at the entrance to Baxter State Park.

Fine, if you say so.

"Big Niagara Falls"

One of the many river fords that soaked us to the bone!


The rafting crew headed out in the morning.

Joe the bus driver.

Backcountry first aid!

Ah yes, I also melted the insoles of my shoes by leaving them too close to a fire when I was trying to dry them out.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Northgoing Zax and Southgoing Zax

It was December of 2010, and I was leaning back against Dumptruck (who at that point was still Mike) on our couch. We lived in a 1-bedroom apartment on 200th street in Manhattan, in a neighborhood long forgotten, or never discovered, by tourists. Our couch was actually a twin bed, as recent college graduates, we knew the only real purpose of a couch was for your friends to be able to crash on it, so it may as well be a bed. Across the room was a pair of wooden sawhorses with a length of sturdy plywood laying across them, a confabulation we generously referred to as a "desk." Sitting on the desk was a wide computer monitor, playing my favorite Christmas movie. The floor so ordinarily strewn with cat-hair was now covered in an assortment of wedding planning miasma. Outside, snow was gently falling.

"What do you want to do for our honeymoon?" Suddenly asked Mike, shifting his weight and accidentally knocking our rotund cat off of the bed and onto the floor, where he immediately began using the wedding planning stuff as cat-claw-fodder. I sat up and grabbed the remote to pause the movie, just at the moment when Bruce Willis realizes that the American he'd helped earlier was actually Hans Gruber, a madman thirsty for power and without a lick of Christmas Spirit. Alan Rickman's dour face loomed over my shoulder as I sat up and regarded Mike.

"I hadn't really thought about it. Although I'm not sure that laying about on a beach somewhere drinking fancy drinks has anything to do with the way that I love you."

"I agree," he nodded, "but people are going to ask what we're doing for a honeymoon. Want to just go to the moon and pour honey all over it?"

"Yes," I said, "But to save enough money to do that, we'll have to work for 50 years. Also, all the bees are dying."

We chatted about options for a while, both agreeing that standard honeymoon destinations were not really our type of adventure. I put the movie back on, while we both lapsed into contemplative silence. The snow continued to fall outside. The cat slept in his paper nest. Bruce Willis blew some stuff up.

"Want to hike the Appalachian Trail?" I burst out, forgetting to pause the movie in my excitement. This is important: Die Hard is one of my very favorite movies, and very little could distract me from the glorious yuletide bloodbath. Mike, the good man he is, paused the movie and stared at me. 


"Yes, really," I put my hands on my hips, pursed my lips and raised my eyebrows playfully, daring him to question my manliness. He poked me in the ribs and I giggled, doubling over. 

"Really!" I laughed, "We've both always wanted to do it. Why not?"

When I looked at him again, there was a hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth; the kind of sneaky smile that takes over your face in spite of yourself, when you can't quite believe something is happening.

"We're going to be squeezed out of money after the wedding, we'll have to save up for the trail," he reasoned.

"So we'll go a few years after. The wedding's in October 2011, let's start the trail in Spring 2013."

Mike was openly grinning then, looking for all the world like a little kid who has been told that he's allowed to muck around in the mud for hours, never do homework and not have to take a bath. I straightened my back, stuck out my left hand and looked straight in his eyes,

"Michael Wilson, will you hike the East Coast with me?"

He grabbed my hand with his and shook it.



Dumptruck is a wedding photographer (among other photography), and before we left for the trail, several opportunities for jobs came up halfway through September. We were starting on March 7th, so September seemed very mangeable. Some folks finish the trail in 5 months. Some in 6. Turns out that, for us, a September 15th deadline has been an ever looming threat.

The main problem is that the second half of Maine is what is known as the "Hundred Mile Wilderness," where there are no road crossings for 100 miles. Once you go in, you're in until you come out the other side. Over the past few weeks, it has become apparent that we might not quite make it through the 100 mile wilderness in time for Dumptruck's jobs. Then we'd be stuck, Dumptruck would not be a man of his word, a moose would make a meal of us, the world would end, etc., etc. 

Really, what this meant is that if we arrived at the 100 mile wilderness and knew we couldn't make it through it time, Dumptruck would have to quit the trail at the start of the wilderness, and I would summit Katahdin without him.

Over the past week, this hovering eventuality felt like someone had put several bricks in the bottom of my backpack. It's not that I am afraid to hike alone; to the contrary, I know it would be its own adventure. The trouble is that we've made it this far together, and the idea of summiting Katahdin without him feels... I am struggling for a metaphor, so I will settle for an adjective: awful. Thinking about it made my stomach twist into tight little terrible pretzels, covered in horrible mustard.

As the 2 of us were climbing down the impossibly rocky, steep and never-ending descent of Mount Madison, the creeping grip of pretzel guts was increasing with every step. Grim and Whistle were at least a mile ahead of us, and we had told them we would catch them the next day. I was exhausted from the day (see the previous post: 6 empire state buildings in 1 day!) and I was stumbling with every step. I nearly tumbled off into several ravines, my feet a pair clumsy clown shoes. I had already fallen several times, miraculously not hitting my head, but my legs were a mess of bruises and bloody road-rash scrapes from the rocks. I was so tired, but we couldn't stop because we were above tree-line and there was quite literally nowhere to camp. Every direction was sharp boulders at 45 degree angles or steeper (again, look at the previous post for photos of this) and we were walking along a thin ridgeline. We had to keep going. The sun was setting beautifully over the ridge behind us, but it was a dangerous beauty, as it pulled the ever-dimming blanket of light down over the back of the mountainside as it went.

Dumptruck and I put our poles away because they were no use against the jumbled boulders. We descended together, one wobbly sharp rock at a time, in the only possible way: by holding hands. He would take a few tenuous steps downward, turn around and hold his hands up to me, and I would use his steady weight as a fulcrum to swing downward. Then we would switch, and I would go forward for a while, bringing him down. It reminded me of two children on a see-saw. One cannot go forward without the other. 

As soon as we got to the tree-line, the last of the light crawling away, we found a tiny established stealth campsite between some trees a little off the trail. I tried to help Dumptruck set up the tent, but I was shaking so badly that my attempt at assembling the poles looked like I was trying to wrestle several angry orange rattle snakes. Dumptruck gently told me to rest, and he set up the tent.

It was too much. My exhaustion, coupled with my stress regarding the end of the trail, washed over me like a bucket of ice water. I rubbed my eyes and tried to hiccup back the growing eventuality of tears, but I was unsuccessful. Salt water poured over my face, leaving streaks through the accumulated grime on my cheeks. My pink hair, which I had pulled back into tiny childlike pigtails to keep out of my face, was now jiggling around as I shook with the onslaught of emotion. I imagined that I must have looked like a cartoon character, with big, salty water drops falling from my face to create a small ocean around my comically over-sized hiking boots, Pig-Pen stink lines squiggling upward toward the sky.

Dumptruck sat down with me, and we talked about how we could possibly combat the possibility that we wouldn't finish together. Hike faster? Not possible through the White Mountains and the Mahoosics of Maine, which are enormous, steep, and constantly changing. Skip a section? Not desirable, as this is one of the most beautiful sections we've encountered, and we definitely don't want to miss it. Buy rocket boots? Not feasible, as even if they were invented, they would probably be prohibitively expensive. We couldn't figure out what to do, so we ate food and went to bed, deciding to talk about it more in the morning.

As ideas are sometimes wont to do, a plan coalesced in my brain as I slept, all the pieces weaving together and settling into a perfect, simple solution:

Southbound it.

I sat up in my sleeping bag in the morning, rubbing the leftover sleep out of my eyes and looking around. Dumptruck was sitting near the tent, making coffee in the morning light. 

"Hey," I murmured, smiling with my idea. He looked up at me and tilted his head to the side, evoking the image of a puppy who isn't quite sure whether or not something exciting is about to happen. 

"What about if we Southbound?"

He paused, thinking about it, "What do you mean?"

"We can get a ride from my mom up to the base of Katahdin and hike South from there. Then, when September 15th rolls around, if we haven't quite made it back to here [Pinkham Notch], then we won't be trapped in the wilderness. My parents can pick us up anywhere near here because they live so close. Then, we can drive back up to Katahdin and still finish with summiting Katahdin. Together."

"Oh! That's a great idea! We'll be Flip-Floppers!"

"We might have made it in time either way, but this way there won't be any stress. If there's a small section we don't get through down here in the Whites or Southern Maine, then it's okay, and we can maybe even come back and do it in October. Then we won't yellow blaze, and we will still summit Katahdin."

Dumptruck and I packed up our tent and gear, and made the rest of the 6 miles down to Pinkham Notch, where we found Grim and Whistle. Also there was my mom, who was doing trail magic for hikers! We had found Mom 2 days previously, when she had surprised us at Crawford Notch with trail magic. We had found Sunshine, Carpenter, Leaks, Jerry Riggs and the Florida Flip Floppers there are well! She had promised to catch us again at Pinkham Notch, and then make plans for when we could go and zero at my parents' house. In those 2 days we hiked a huge portion of the White Mountains. The muscles in my calves feel so big that sometimes I swear I can feel my skin stretching over them, it's actually quite strange. 

The White Mountains, though they are incredibly arduous to hike, are also a popular tourist destination because of their beauty. Additionally, there is a system of "huts" that are like mountainside bunkhouse hotels. Occasionally thru-hikers can get work-for-stay at these cool spots, but there's usually only a few spots, as the huts are full-up with customers paying a pretty penny to stay. Thus, for the most part, Grim, Whistle, Dumptruck and I have been just stopping into the huts for a bowl of soup and hiking on. Furthermore, there is an auto road that folks can drive up to reach the summit of Mount Washington, so the top of that mountain is swarmed by tourists curious about what it feels like to be inside of weather in the sky. This has led to some interesting interactions between us thru-hikers and the visiting families, who may or may not have any idea what the Appalachian Trail is, and why there are people standing near them who haven't showered recently. 

We had made it to Zealand Falls Hut halfway through a day, and we were sitting at the long mess hall tables, quietly eating soup. Dumptruck was in a particular zoned-out mood. He had recently removed his cap, and his long hair was sticking out from his head in a thousand directions like some kind of insane hedgehog. His beard was ruffled and long as per usual, and his white hiking shirt was a charming gradient of browns and yellows from sweat and dirt. He was sitting near the door of the hut, staring off into space with his mouth slightly open, when a young girl around the age of 13 came into the hut. She was very clean, and was clearly on just a short trip with her family. 

I would like to take a moment and flesh out the character of this girl. She was wearing a conspicuously clean bright green shirt, and her long brown hair was loose around her shoulders. I do not have the power to read minds, but based on her initial facial expression, I would assume that up until the moment she encountered us, her thoughts had been something like "The woods r soooo boooorriiinng #summerboredom #myparentsaretheworst #barf"

Sometimes, in movies, there is a moment when the camera will zoom in on something terrifying, and then swing wildly back to the protagonist to see their reaction to the beast in question. She saw Dumptruck and she froze in place as her eyes grew to the size of golf balls.  Her pupils dilated in confusion and fear, and she quickly glanced around to see if there was anyone who could come to her rescue. But no, she was alone. Only thru-hikers in here, Clarice. She began to ever-so-slowly take backward steps away from us, as though frightened that any sudden movements may alert Dumptruck to her presence. She shouldn't have been worried. Dumptruck was still completely zoned out, and even if he had seen her, the most dangerous thing he would have done would be to give her a cheerful wave. But apparently this girl had never seen a hiker before, or perhaps, anyone with facial hair.

She continued to retreat, one agonizingly slow step at a time, until she disappeared back into the bunk room from whence she came, and then the door SLAMMED closed. I had watched this all happen, my eyes watering slightly from restraining my laughter. I suppose we look homeless, and thus I suppose, very scary. Unfortunately for this girl, we encountered the same family a few huts later when Dumptruck politely asked someone where the bathrooms were. It just so happened to be the same preteen, who looked like she'd been hit with a tazer at being addressed by the same tree trunk of a man who'd scared the wits out of her a few days previously. She made a wild glance around and yelled "No!" and then ran away as fast as she could. Dumptruck was confused until Whistle pointed out to him that it was the same girl, and that she probably had been having nightmares about him. Her mother gave us a very dirty look when we left the hut.

On the more positive end of the spectrum, someone left a half-eaten bagel on Whistle's backpack on the top of Mount Washington (as a donation, we assume). Most of the people who we've spoken to in the Whites have been fascinated by the our thru-hike, and completely blown away by how long we've been hiking. Whistle hiked past a pair of preteen girls hiking up a steep incline, wearing small day packs.

"Wow, your pack is so big!" One of them said, impressed, "How much does it weigh?"

"Oh, probably 30 pounds," said Whistle, smiling.

"Goodness! I feel like mine weighs 20," the other girl said. Both of them seemed to be enjoying their hike, unlike the girl of the hut. Whistle chatted with them for a few minutes, then hiked on ahead. As she was leaving, she heard one of them say to the other,

"Wow. Look at her go. She looks like she could go anywhere she wanted to in the world."

Thus, appropriately, M3OwZ3BA made this video on the top of Mount Washington:


So, my friends, Dumptruck and I have been Northbound thru-hikers for 5 and a half months, and here, at the end, we are going to become Southbounders. Not many people flip-flop at Pinkham Notch, but there you have it. We are quite heartbroken to be leaving Grim and Whistle, who are going to continue Northbound, but they completely understand why we have to do it this way. We will see them in 10 days or so when we pass each other going opposite directions. We're the scouting team for M3OWZ3BA! We are very much hoping to coordinate it such that we can summit with them.

Dumptruck and I started this trail together, and that's how we're going to end it. At the top of Katahdin, swinging our way up together.

100 Miles Wilderness, here we come!

Clever Girl

I will give updates regarding the location of Grim and Whistle from text messages as we go, and post them here!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Whites in Photos and Miles

8/15: 13 miles from Gordon Pond to Franconia Notch

8/16: 10.4 miles over Mount Haystack, over Mount Lincoln to the summit of Lafayette, then down to Greenleaf hut, then down the Bridal Path side trail

8/17: Zero Day at Worthley Pond! We were picked up by our wonderful friends Bill and Cathy (whose son Brett is a close friend of ours), who took us to their cabin and fed us, fed us and fed us. It was like heaven. Their cabin is my happy place.

8/18: 8.4 miles back up the Greenleaf Trail, back up to the summit of Lafayette, over Mount Garfield then on to Franconia Ridge Trail (stealth camping)

8/19: 12.7 miles over South Twin Mountain, Mount Guyot and Zeacliff to a stream (stealth camping)

8/20: 11.5 miles over Mount Webster, Mount Jackson and Mount Pierce, and stealth camping at the Crawford Path cutoff

8/21: 12.7 miles over Mount Eisenhower, Mount Franklin, Mount Monroe, Mount Washington(!), Mount Jefferson, Thunderstorm Junction, and Mount Madison, to a stealth campsite below treeline after the descent down Madison. This day alone had a total elevation change of approximately 3,725 feet up and 5,020 feet down, totalling 8,745 feet of elevation change in one day. To put that in context, that's 6 (six) empire state buildings.

And I wondered why I was so tired at the end of that day. The other days in the Whites were no joke, either!

8/22: 6 miles to Pinkham Notch

I will update with writing later today, but for now, here are the photographs from the beginning of the White Mountains in New Hampshire through to Pinkham Notch!
Mt. Wolfe 

Only a little muddy

Found this kitten button!

On South Kinsman

North Kinsman

Dumptruck wearing Catch's shorts

The boys trade clothing

Oh gracious heavens!

Something big has been here

Lonesome Lake

Nearly to Lafayette

Going up Lafayette

On top of Lafayette!

With Bill and Cathy!

Looking at Lafayette ridge

At the cabin on Worthley Pond

Dumptruck and Brett!

Going down Lafayette

Oh, just hiking.

Galehead Hut

Badonk and Cub!

Mt. Washington in the distance!

AT Fashion Trends

Black fly bite on my left foot- look at how swollen the toes are!

Lake of the Clouds Hut

I'd turn back if I were you.

Lake of the Clouds

Headed up Mt. Washington!

The Great Gulf

Looking back over Mt. Madison