Most of the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire ventures through the White Mountain National Forrest. I caught just a slight glimpse of the southern tip when we picked up and returned Vulture, who was already hiking the Whites. I can honestly say I have never seen anything so majestic, and that was just a small drive on the edge of the forrest. Mouse and Rush are hiking inside and sending me incredible pictures.
The following is from the Thru-Hikers Companion guide book, which is what Gpa Mouse and I use daily to track Sarra; “Considered one of the most challenging states, it is also one of the most rewarding. As the trees get shorter and the views get longer, you’ve entered the krummholz zone, where trees are stunted with flag-like tops due to stress from the wind and cold. Boreal bogs are home to local carnivorous plant species, sundew and pitcher plants. Hardy, yet delicate alpine flowers may be in bloom when you pass through. Spruce grouse, winter wren, dark-eyed junco, and the white-throated sparrow will greet you along the way. Much of the Trail is above the timberline, where the temperature may change very suddenly; snow is possible in any season. Snow falls on Mt. Washington every month of the year. High winds and dense fog are common”. “One of the most impressive sections of the AT, the Whites offer magnificent views with miles of above-treeline travel. Extra caution should be exercised while above treeline, due to rapidly changing weather and the lack of protection from it. Carry cold-weather gear, even in the middle of summer.” Sarra said “This area is awesome hiking. The mountains are hard and strenuous but incredible views. The views are 10 times better than any pictures I’ve seen. It’s really an exciting time. When we still had a week left in the Whites it felt like we had been here for a while. The climbs are hard, but yet not – hard to explain. Rush and I both like hills and rocks so it doesn’t seem like work all the time. The logistics are harder now and it’s a little stressful. There are no free shelters, you have to pay. And the terrain is all rock so there are no places to pitch a tent randomly. Also, you have to constantly be paying attention to the weather. The Whites are fun, super emotional and incredibly awesome! When you have good weather they’re not too hard. I’m not dying of exhaustion at the end of the day, so that’s good.”
Mt Cube 7/19
Mt Moosilauke 7/20 – “The north side of Mt Moosilauke is slick, particularly in rain. Sections use rebar, rock steps, and wooden blocks for footing.”
Appalachian Mountain Club huts – “These large, enclosed lodges sleep from 36 to 90 people and are open with full service. An overnight stay includes bunk space, pillow, blanket, bathroom privileges, family style meals and potable water. The huts cater mainly to families and weekend hikers.” Thru-hiker rarely stay here, mainly because the rates are pricey. However, they have work exchange (work for stay) at the huts. “Thru-hikers can sometimes arrange with the croo (hut workers) to work off stays at the full or self-service huts. Most huts can accommodate one or two working thru-hikers each night, but availability of work is never guaranteed. When work is available, thru-hikers are asked to put in two hours either at night or in the morning.” In return they get a place to lay their sleeping bag and a meal from leftover dinners after paying guest are served
Lonesome Lake Hut 7/22 – ‘Sarra said, ‘The work for stay here was a little weird. I don’t think they get a lot of thru-hikers, most slackpack this area. So people there seemed a little put off by us being there. The workers weren’t very friendly, I don’t know maybe it was just an off night. But, we felt like we were a nuisance. However, it was nice to sleep indoors. The only thing we had to do was move wood for about 20 minutes.’
Spent the morning in Lincoln NH 7/23 ‘Today is conflicting. When you’re hiking in the Whites you have to look ahead for a couple days for the weather. For instance, today there is a 20% chance of rain so we’re probably ok. Although you want a pretty day so you can see all the views. But, the next 2 days there is a 60% chance of thunderstorms. If we hike out today and get rained on, no big deal. But we don’t want to be on top of the mountains 2 miles above the tree line in a thunderstorm.’
Lakes of the Clouds Hut 7/25
Mt Washington 7/25 – the highest peak in the Northeast (6,288 feet). ‘The hardest was getting off Mt. Washington because of the fog. I couldn’t see Rush right in front of me. The rocks were wet and slippery and we went about 1 mph.’
‘At the end of the day at Mt Madison, the fog blew away and it was great.’
Wildcat Mountain Ridge 7/27 ‘Yesterday was a little scary. We were hiking up Wildcat Mountain and it was pretty crazy. It was 2 miles to get to the highest point climbing straight up. A quarter of the way we heard thunder and we were watching a storm right next to us. When we got to a ski lift we decided we better take it down and stay in town. The next morning the weather was great and we took the ski lift back up and continued.’ The following pictures are obviously not from that day, just wanted you to see the terrain and the view.
The Whites are similar to The Smoky Mountains – it has its own weather system and you need to follow and respect that. This past week Sarra says she feels stronger now than the entire past 4 months. She was worried about climbing this type of elevation, but said she doesn’t even look at elevation in the guide any longer. You have to do the climbs whether you know about it or not! She’s said this is an exciting hike and she is really enjoying it, but she’s also excited to hike because she knows that will get her closer to being done and getting home. Its interesting, when we went to an AT thru-hiker panel back in February and each thru hiker was asked ‘what was your favorite part’ if I remember correctly everyone of them said ‘the Whites’.
So . . . As of today she should be around the 300 miles left mark!! That’s when I said I would make my reservations to fly to Maine. She gave me a window of August 20-25th to be finished. I figure we’ll fly home on the 25th which would make her hike exactly 5 months from her start date of March 25 on Springer Mountain in Georgia. I asked her what it’s like to be away from home for 5 months, she said ‘strange, surreal, feels weird’. I know one Mouse that will be ecstatic to walk through that front door at 512 W. Jefferson Street. We’re not done yet though, next up is 281.4 miles through Maine . . .