Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ups and Downs in the Whites

We are currently in Lincoln, NH. This is our... 7th day here, I think. Don't worry, there has been some hiking between there. We haven't been here this long by choice. It's not a bad city but it sucks being stuck anywhere. And that is what we are for at least a couple more hours. Maybe more.

Immediately after finishing the last blog and leaving the library in awesome Hanover, we ran into the amazing Miss Janet. Trail Angel of Trail Angels. We kept hearing she was in the area but she's a tough one to track down. She basically tracked us down. She was looking for a new bubble to help for a while and that was us. Immediately, she offered slacking options entering the Whites. Whaaa? Sweet! We hopped in her van and headed to a campsite on the AT down the road.

By this time, Caveman was back. The slackers involved Slash, FWD, Caveman, Dick Flap, Reverie, Belch, Central Booking, Frosty, and the whole Sunshine Gang. Miss Janet helped us knock out a lot of miles.

Chaser, Dick Flap, Caveman, Reverie, and I were gonna slack southbound over Moosiluake. Unfortunately, Reverie wasn't feeling well so she sat it out. Southbound was important here. Going up the mountain southbound was much safer and easier for Chaser than going down it. It was steep. It took us an hour and a half to go one and a half miles. Never has it ever taken us that long.

The weather wasn't perfect but it was trying to clear up. By the time we got to the peak, it was looking good. We ran into friends and enjoyed the views. Moosiluake was awesome.

We all stay at an easily road accessible shelter, Jeffers Shelter, that night where Janet brings us for pizza. That was excellent, the campsite and the pizza. We also went through our last field on the Trail that day. Mountains from here on out.

The next day Janet brought us to a hostel in Lincoln to drop off anything we could live without for a day as a half slack. The plan was to be out one night and end up back at the hostel the next evening. So, Reverie, Caveman, Chaser, D Flap, and I headed out around 3:30 to do 7 miles over Mt Wolf to a shelter. Little did we know, 7 miles no longer was timed like 7 miles of the past. It's harder now. Basically, we underestimated the hike and did our first night hiking of the Trail. At least an hour of it. It was weird. Tunnel vision. You gotta feel the Trail and guess where it goes sometimes. My battery was dying adding a higher sense of urgency. Anyway, we made it. Set up in the dark. Cooked in the dark. It gets dark so much earlier now.

The next day, it was time to go over Kinsman. We woke up to a slight drizzle. Basically, the weather wasn't ideal for the climb to come. We climbed and climbed. Seriously, Climbed. It was hardly hiking most of the day. The higher we got, the higher the winds and no views. Spots where we had to either push or pull Chaser up. He's a beast, yes. But this mountain was unforgiving. You had to negotiate about every step. So many slabs of rock and the Trail says, "figure this one out". It was tough, I'm not gonna lie. I figured that's how all the Whites would be. Either way, we made it to the top in whiteout conditions. The decent was equally as challenging but we made it. We got a hitch back to the hostel where all of our friends were.

Chet's Place. An amazing donation-based hostel. It's treated us very well for the most part. That first night, a local who supports the Trail came and picked us up to bring us to a hot tub and heated pool. We even zeroed to watch the Saints lose their first game. But the weather was predicted to be amazing the following week so it was time to get a move on.

Caveman's mom, Donna(aka Cavemom), was coming to hike with him. She was set to arrive Tuesday and we were leaving Monday. Lots of miles to do. We got a ride by the generous, Hopper, to Franconia Notch to begin our adventure to long walks above tree line in the Whites. The weather was not shaping up to be as pretty as everyone was saying. It was windy, cloudy, and cold. But it's "supposed" to clear up. So up we went into 5000+ ft elevation to the top of Mt Lincoln into the clouds. Bad. Idea. ... Awful. Idea. At first it was just sorta disappointing that there were no views and the wind was bad. But then it turned into scary and disheartening that we are way up here and we have no choice but to fight through the two and a half miles of exposed hiking. It was miserable and scary. The wind was reaching 80mph and mid 30 temperature. We were getting blown all over the place. Thank god Caveman was there. All of our fingers were going numb and we were ready to be off that ridge. But we were stuck. We fought and battled the terrible conditions until we finally got below tree level. We almost immediately set up our tents and hunkered down for the night. By that point, I wasn't feeling very well. Feverish and overly sore. Some pretty day that turned out to be.

That night we talked about how crazy it would be to do that in the dark when suddenly, here come two "day hikers" who apparently work at the AMC Huts up the Trail headed up into the madness. We warned them not to but they said they had already done 42 miles that day and only had a few left to go so they wanted to take their chances. Suit yourselves, dudes. We go to sleep. An hour later, "you guys were right! We can't hike in that. It's freezing out here and we only have day packs. Can we sleep in your tents with y'all?" whoa. Ummm. Well. Uh. This is just a voice in the night. I wasn't sure but Reverie didn't want them to freeze so, yeah. Hop in. One got in with Caveman and the other with us. We knew one day our huge ass tent would come in handy. It was a rough awkward sleep. He had shorts on and no sleeping bag or pad. He got Chaser instead. In the end, morning came, they rolled out and we had a story.

The other thing that happened in the morning was that it was gorgeous out! Daaamn. Why couldn't it have been like this yesterday? What do we do? We'd been looking forward to Franconia Ridge for so long. Let's.... Southbound it. Yep. Let's turn around and do it again, except this time it'll be amazing. Aaaand it was. We'd never gone back rehired miles ever. But this was so worth it. All our NoBo friends were like wha? But everything about it ruled. It exceeded expectations by far. Could not have been happier we made that decision.

The other thing was, my tummy was beginning to have issues too. So we figured we'd head back to Chet's.

We got to Chet's and I had a fever. It was packed with hikers and was getting grosser. Caveman's mom got in late that evening as well. I couldn't even get up to hug her.

The next day it was clear I had a bug and that a hiker hostel was not the best place to deal with it. We checked into a hotel around the corner. The worst part was, it was a gorgeous day outside. So so pretty. But I wasn't able to do anything. Said bye to Caveman and Cavemom. They were gonna be going slow so we figured we'd see em soon enough.

Good thing we were at a hotel. It wouldn't have worked any other way. Woke up the next morning to an equally amazing day and realized I still hadn't recovered. Shit. Reluctantly checked in for another night. We know every pretty day we don't hike in the Whites is a risk. We WILL NoT put ourselves through white out conditions again. So the timing has to be perfect. So does the weather. We watched many days go by and now bad weather is creeping up again. The LAST thing you want to do is be stuck in the presidentials in bad weather. Mt Washington has some of the worst weather on earth. Highest wind speeds. So, we can't go up there on a whim. However we can't NOT hike and just wait. It's a predicament, for sure.

So, upon the second recovery day at the hotel, I reviewed some film and realized, my cameras audio is NOT working. At all. It turned into a series of warranty phone calls and ordering another one. My camera has actually gone UP in price!!! It's a year and a half old technology but somehow went up in value. Never heard of that before. So, this was that much more stressful. Overnighting a camera and pretty days getting by us and the weekend approaching and sickness. Mixed awful things.

One last effort, I shoved the camera in rice. It was presumably water damage due to the moisture from Franconia Ridge in whiteout conditions. So, rice was worth a shot. We woke up, I was feeling better, for the most part, and the camera... WORKED! Excitement. Canceled the other camera. Cancelled the warranty. I was happy. Time to hike out on that beautiful day.

We realize my bug was getting popular. A lot of people have been getting it or have it now. We are really hoping Rev doesn't get it because it's not something you can deal with on the Trail. And the Whites are so difficult it would make everything miserable. We just found out a couple passed it to one another today. All the while knowing bad weather is coming up.

Anyway, we get packed up and ready to hitch. We get on the road and I chat to the camera which appears to NOT be working. Can't play that game. It can't be fickle. We turn around. Get back on the phone. And get the ball rolling on another camera while admitting to ourselves we are gonna be stuck in town a bit longer. Ugh. But the camera has come this far. I can't give up on this doc now. We went back to Chet's.

We set up our tent and hunkered down. It felt diseasey in the hostel. We set up a next day air for the new cam and sent the broken one to Squaretrade Warranty. They rule, by the way. Best warranty ever.

So, here we sit on a Saturday in Lincoln still. Ready to move but scared to start the Presidential range due to weather. We are behind everyone now. I foresee a much needed skip despite the fact we REALLY didn't want to miss any of the Whites. But we have a schedule. No decisions have been made but the camera comes in around 4 and then we need a plan.

No matter what happens, this is our adventure and we are still loving it. Homesickness takes over time to time. I don't want to say by to the friends or mountains but I also wanna see family and old friends.

Just got a call. Camera is in! We're out. But where too?

Bottom of Moosiluake

The Trail parallels so many awesome falls up here.

Yep, rebar.


D Flap's big fall

The Camel, FWD, Slash, and Croc


Drunk Flap

Thanks, Miss Janet!

Moose country

Franconia Ridge way back there.

"it'll clear up"

It only got uglier

The gorgeous next day. Up to Mt Lafayette

YouTube Video


- Spiral, Reverie, and CamDog

Location:Duck Pond Way,Lincoln,United States

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