July 1. This morning I did not want to get up and hike. The hike out of Hanover had been a good one, pretty tough, and I was not looking forward to doing more today. The trail is really becoming more challenging...both physically and mentally. There seem to be higher highs (and the mountains keep getting taller) and lower lows as I get further north. This morning was a low. I did not want to wake up in the woods, I did not want to hike in the woods, I did not want to go to the bathroom in the woods (3 times before noon!), and I am getting sick of eating junk food, being dirty, and being away from home. I hiked out early but Rafiki caught me 5 miles in. We hiked together for a bit...the trail got soggy and Rafiki's foot sunk into the mud and was completely covered. He wears Teva sandles and his brand new socks were now covered in mud, I guess time to break them in! The flies and bugs on the trail now are some sort of twisted torture game playing with my head. They buzz around my face and ears without landing and since my hands are busy with my trekking poles I don't have the opportunity to swat them away. Eventually they do land though, and when they do they bite! They also try to burrow in my hair which is pretty gross. Today I hit my breaking point and after a very bad hour of flies I stopped and pulled out my baseball cap to cover my hair and I dug out my ear plugs I brought in case people snore in the shelters and popped those in so I couldn't hear any buzzing. Ahhh, now that was better. I was still in a pretty bad funk, I was starting to wish I had an MP3 player to listen to music as I hiked. Before I started the trail I told myself I would not listen to music while I hiked so I could take this time to really think. Well, by this point I think I am sick of being in my own head! I also thought that headphones on the trail is sort of dangerous since you can't hear what is going on around you. When I put in my ear plugs today I was extremely happy that I could not hear what was going on around me...the flies buzzing my head, driving me insane! We did some good climbs in the morning and I was happy to find out that I was maintaining a 2 mile per hour pace on some tough climbs! At 3:30 we made it to the base of Mount Moosilauke, a 6 mile, 4,000 foot climb. We had already hiked 20 miles for the day and still had this plus 2 more miles to the shelter. We started up, I paced myself. About half way up a rain cloud rolled in...I got a few sprinkles and threw on my pack cover, then it poured! It was not a bad storm, it was still sunny, but it was one of those rain clouds that drops enough rain in 4 minutes to completely soak you. I was drenched. I continued up the climb and caught up with Rafiki before the summit. The top of the mountain was just below 5,000 feet and from there we could see ahead into the White Mountains. We were going to have a tough week! The top of the mountain was exposed and very windy so we moved on and made it to the shelter by 8. We set up camp, had dinner, and went to bed. It was a 28 mile day, with a huge 4,000 foot climb...and we were now in the Whites! We were both looking forward to a 17 mile day tomorrow and a hitch into town for sodas, food, and to relax! We were 1,793.3 miles in...390.9 miles from the end.
July 2. It rained last night...so this morning I packed up my tent wet. I packed up and checked in with Rafiki and he was packing up as well. I headed down the trail and it was DOWN! It was a very steep downhill along a stream-waterfall which was pretty, but the rock steps down, and the rebar hand rails made it really tough. I was incredibly sore in the morning, so bad it felt like yesterday had been the hardest hike on the trail yet. It was a really chilly morning, I started with my layers on but shortly after I started I warmed up. I had wondered if I should wear my underwear under my shorts to stay warm, but I was glad I left them out. We took a break at the bottom of the hill and headed up the next mountain.
Random Trail Tought: What ever happenend to Wade Boggs?
On the way up we passed a pond with a bunch of wood planks to walk on. I stepped from one to the next and realized that there wasn't a plank there when I sank into the mud and it covered my foot and half of my calf. We continued hiking up the mountain and in sections I had to throw my poles up and use the trees to pull myself up onto boulders. It was a very hard section of trail. At least we enjoyed a great view from the top. We headed down the otherside and passed a shelter and a few water sources but they were all orange, yellow, or from a pond, so we were still drinking the 2 liters of mountain spring water from the night before and thirsty. We finally made it to the Lonesome Lake Hut, our first hut of the Whites. We stopped in and talked with the hut workers, got water, and had some cold turkey they had left over. We hiked the 3 miles down to the road to North Woodstock on a mission...we were heading to town! From the road we tried to hitch for a good half an hour. A lady passed us on a bike and stopped and said she, her husband, and her dad had all thru-hiked and when she got home she would send her husband up to see if we had been picked up. I thought we needed a sign that said "Harmless Hikers Need A Hitch!" Luckily a few minutes after she stopped by a girl who spoke very little english picked us up. She dropped us off in town and we hit the gas station first for food and drinks. We checked in at the hotel and found out that the lady that had owned the laudramat across the street had passed away and it was closed...R.I.P. laundry lady...we would be hiking out with smelly clothes. We showered and picked up our resupply food and walked downtown for food. We ate outside at a local pub and the burger was fantaastic! The rain clouds moved in and we took cover, headed back to the hotel, and sat inside, glad to not be in our tents for tonight's rain storms. On the way back I picked up a locally brewed Woodstock Inn Brewery beer that had an Appalachian Trail sign in the logo. Tomorrow was going to be another big day in the Whites so we relaxed for the night. The plan for tomorrow...get a big breakfast and hike on! Tonight we stayed at mile marker 1,811, 373.2 miles from the end!