Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Appalachian Trail Symphony: Days 43-46 (Mozart in the Woods)

On Moosilauke South Peak
Day 43 - (7/23/16) 6.7 miles (Hexacuba Shelter to Cape Moonshine Rd)

Short day today to meet up with Diane, who camped with me tonight at a nearby intentional community called "Dancing Bones".  they are building a new community building in another part of the grounds, so the existing one, which we used, is kind of all dilapidated.  The outdoor showers didn't work because the pipes burst last fall.  But at least there was one inside with hot water I could use.  Wifi too which was nice, and we were able to tent in a small field unbothered.  We did get a strong thunderstorm and were glad to have shelter in the community building during it.  The shelter last night also had an interesting privy.  The shelter was called "Hexacuba" as the shelter was hexagonal, and I assume the "cuba" came from it being near Mt Cube, which I climbed this morning.  The privy, whose door was detached and laid nearby, had a sign saying "Penta-Privy" as the privy was indeed pentagonal.

Day 44 - (7/24/16) 8.9 miles (Cape Moonshine Rd to Jeffers Brook Shelter)

Had a leisurely morning with Diane before heading back out on the trail.  I saw another bear!  2 in 3 days now.  It was off the trail to my right maybe 80ft and didn't hear me at first, so I banged my poles together and then it ran away.  Another rush of adrenaline!  I resupplied in town with Diane and now my pack is close to the heaviest it has been, which makes the hiking a little tougher than it has been in recent weeks.  Tomorrow is the biggest climb yet (I keep saying that, but the mountains keep getting taller and taller), Mt Moosilauke at 4802ft with a 3500ft climb!  This is really the beginning of the White Mountains, which should be great but difficult.  I'm down to less than 400 miles left to hike.

Day 45 - (7/25/16) 6.9 miles (Jeffers Brook Shelter to Beaver Brook Shelter)

Moose on Moosilauke!

Moosilauke was big and a long climb, but not too difficult.  I even saw a moose on it!  It was on the ridge between the summit and the south peak, just maybe 20ft from the trail.  It startled me and at first I thought it was a statue or something, but of course then it moved!  It wasn't very big, maybe the size of a large horse, and other hikers who have seen it said it was too thin or maybe sick.  But at least I saw a moose on Moos-ilauke!  It was so close to the trail, I wasn't sure what to do, as I didn't want to get too close to it, but some other hikers came the other way down the trail and walked right past it, so I did too.  The view from the top was great; I could see into the Whites and also Lake Winnipesaukee, I think, far to the east.  The top was ruined a bit by a large group of loud teenagers shouting and making all sorts of noise.  The forecast, and all the other hikers I talked to, said thunderstorms would be rolling in around 4 or 5pm, so I played it safe and stopped at the shelter here instead of pressing on 9 miles to the next one.  But it's 7:30pm as I write this and all we've had has been a little drizzle.  I finally met some other hikers that are doing just New England like me.  They are a young couple from Wisconsin and are doing just about the same pace as me too, so we may see each other a bit going forwards.  They started in Kent, CT around July 1 but skipped the section from Rutland, VT to Hanover, NH.  

On Moosilauke summit

Day 46 - (7/26/16) 13.0 miles (Beaver Brook Shelter to Kinsman Pond Shelter)

Very muddy trail
Very steep and rocky trail up South Kinsman Mtn
Today was the most challenging day of hiking yet, and probably my whole life so far!  It started with nearly a 2000ft descent in just 1.3 miles down the rest of Moosilauke, with signs saying that this part was extremely difficult and only suitable for experienced hikers.  It was a bit slick too from the little rain we had the night before, and I did slip on a rock and take a little tumble where I hurt my left ring finger, which is a little swollen and purple at the knuckle now.  I realized I really had to take it slow and be careful with where I placed my feet and poles.  Then, after crossing NH 112 at Kinsman Notch, the next 8 miles or so were very muddy and felt like it went on forever.  I have developed a pretty good sense of how far a mile hiking is, but this stretch felt like it was another 3 miles longer than it was.  I got to a shelter, but it was only 2pm and there was another just 4 miles away, so I pressed on.  It was 2000ft of ascent up South Kinsman Mtn, and the 1000ft wasn't so bad, but the last 1000ft was the hardest hiking yet.  Big rocks with no good places to put your feet or poles, times where I couldn't step up as high as I needed to so I had to jump a bit and use my inertia to get me up, times where I had to put both poles in one hand to be able to hold on to a rock or a tree and pull myself up.  It was very slow going, as it was a lot of thinking about how I'd make it up each subsequent part.  It was a little bit like rock climbing, and very steep.  It was mostly overcast all day, but luckily never rained or thundered.  I was worried it would, especially during that tough stretch on Kinsman, which made it even more stressful.  At the top, I was right under the clouds, I felt like I could reach up and touch them, they were maybe only 100ft above.  The view was beautiful but the clouds were dark and I was worried, so I didn't stay as long at the summit as I would have liked.  Now I'm camped here on the shores of Kinsman Pond, which is really beautiful and kind of reminds me of some of the pounds in Rocky Mountain National Park I used to go hike to.  I got up extra early this morning and got on the trail around 7:15am, and I didn't finish until about 5:30pm.  That's more than 10 hours of hiking for 13 miles, which is slower than my usually slow pace.  But everyone has said that the White Mountains slow you down.  I'm thinking the New Hampshire movement of my symphony will have lots of large leaping intervals, and probably will be the loudest and most boisterous.  I've been really beginning to think about what I'm really looking for and trying to find on this trip.  A little part of it is just to do it and prove to myself that I can hike this long distance and "climb every mountain" along the way.  Part of it is also to connect more with this region that I love, and really see a side of it I haven't seen as much.  Growing up, our trips around New England more more in the car, seeing small towns, events, and drive-in camping, but little backcountry hiking deep in the forest and summiting mountains.  

Kinsman Pond in the evening
Kinsman Pond in the morning

No comments: