First, the trail gossip. I’m hearing that another hiker’s gone missing in Maine. This brings up a lot of flashback and emotion from 2013, when Inchworm went missing (there was even a TV show about it; they found her body 2 years later; she starved to death, after being unfound for 28 days, like a mile from the Trail). No details on who it is. Also, a hiker (a regular hiker, not a thru) was apparently found dead in his tent. 62 years old, natural causes. And I got an answer from Ting. He’s definitely out. It was Kinsman. “The Whites were more than I bargained for. I’m a hiker, not a mountain goat.” 👍😄
Last night I stealthed on Zealand Mountain, and ohmygod it was the best site ever. Cradled among low pines with just enough of a clearing for my little one-person, clearly previously used, flat, bed of soft pine needles, sheltered from the 4000-foot wind, zero condensation. I slept so well! I slept so well that I slept until the godawful late hour of 5:30, after fighting my snoozes for 2 hours. It was such a good sleep. I was really exhausted. And I woke up with the perfect solution to my logistical problem.
The problem: Two 8-mile days (tiny! and food stretching!) and a 14-mile day, including both Mt Washington and Mt Madison on the 14, in the rain. I haven’t managed a 14 yet in the Whites, and Washington is relentless in both directions and Madison is a hairy descent. (And I think there are some other presidents in there, too, but those are the worst.)
The solution: Stay in the Dungeon at Lake of the Clouds (the armpit of the AT). That breaks the 30 into something closer to 10-10-10. I feel a LOT better doing Washington/Madison in the rain during a 10 than a 14. (The problem is that you can’t camp at all in the Presidentials until you get below treeline.)
The perfect solution: Grit my teeth, gird my loins, bite the bullet, mix my metaphors, and use a credit card to pay the ridiculously high cost of a bunk at Lake of the Clouds Hut. I was planning to spend some cash anyway, but this comes with a couple of good meals and gets me out of the rain. And I don’t risk getting black lung disease by sleeping in that disgusting mildew pit. So tomorrow night, I’m pretending to live the high life. [It’s now a tradition, I suppose. I stayed at Mt Madison Hut last time.] Then Thursday, in the rain, I’ll finish the climb to Washington, get more food, maybe charge up a little, then do Madison. Whew.
Today was… nice! I had that great, lovely, sublime sleep, then I tackled the descent to Zeacliff Falls—pretty as ever. Then my favorite part of the Whites—a 5-mile stretch on an old railroad bed, so it’s flat as a fucking pancake. I didn’t camp at Crawford Notch because I’d realized it was 4 miles away (and the closer, state campground had no food). The cash for that went into my planning for the LOTC overnight, anyway. Then I slogged up the rock wall to Webster Cliffs, like Spiderman. Yay. Another rock wall. But this time, I remembered how bad it was, so at least I was mentally prepared. Tomorrow’s section is worse, and will be wet, but I’ll be rested. And my pack is light on both food and water, which is great.
Saw Woobie and Innaday toward the end of the day. Woobie was ranting like I ranted yesterday, lol. Actually, everybody’s ranting—except the ones who are too stoned to be anything but mellow. 😄 Do people say “stoned” anymore? Anyway, don’t worry; the rage and colorful invective is just a phase NOBOs go through. It ends on Katahdin.
What else? Rain tonight, rain tomorrow. I’ll have to find laundry and a device charge at some point, but for now it’s all good.
Another day in paradise.