Down the hill upwards

Mile 1810.1So. The descent down Moosilauke was steep, steep, steep—but not as scary as anticipated. The rocks were dry, and I just took it one step at a time. It was great. Fun, even! But it was also very hard on the knees. And what it wasn’t was fast. I think it took me about an hour and a half to go 1.4 miles—roughly 1 mph. The rest of the day was also monstrously rugged. I tried to cover as much ground as I could, to get a handle on scheduling, and ultimately I covered 9 miles in… 9 hours. And my knees, particularly my bad left knee, feel the burn. Jelly knee! (It’s not injured; it just has an upper limit before it wants a rest.) My lungs are fine (can’t go fast anyway, here), but the body’s six years older. I’ve gone through my schedule and modified my expectations, adding 2 days to the Whites. Shorter days across the board. Food should be fine, between the huts and the places I can buy stuff. So today, when I realized there was no way I could start up Kinsman at 3 (not with Guthooks comments like ‘Steepest NOBO climb yet’ and ‘RIP my knees’), I stopped at Eliza Brook Shelter. A 9-mile day after an 8-mile day, and I’m whipped. lol. I wonder how people who are good at this feel? 😅

But. But, but, but. It’s so beautiful! Crisp air, pine-scented. Great boulders crowned with moss. There were slabs of rock to climb, often after tossing my poles up overhead because I needed hands and feet. The bogs are like Vermont on steroids; I slipped once and went in up to the ankle! It’s just a giant, killer steep, crazy jungle gym of old forest, old roots, old stone. Under a crystal blue sky that’s supposed to linger for the next 4 or 5 days.

Tomorrow: The Kinsmans. 11 miles, I hope!

Oh! And there’s only one other guy at this shelter—not a thru, I don’t think. Where are the people?? It’s Friday night in a national forest at the last free shelter in the Whites. A “popular” shelter, per GH. So why isn’t it crowded?