Sunday, August 27, 2017

Granddaddy - Aug 27

Sending this from Mt Madison.

Slept on the floor at Madison Hut last night. Today Sunny and 45. Perfect. No wind.

My grandfather was a hut boy at Madison Hut in 1923ish.
I'm sure I stepped on a rock or two that granddaddy hiked on in the 20s. As I stand on the very summit I know he stood on this rock dozens of times. I get choked up every time I think about it.

This is the best weather day we have had in the Whites. Others have been great but today is perfection.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Love the Whites - Aug 24

Pappy 12 and Best Wife have had some awesome days hiking lately. Although this hike has been mentally tougher than normal the past couple weeks, the rewards have been more than worth it. We are now in the middle of what most consider the most difficult section of the Appalachian Trail: The White Mountains and Southern Maine.

Until now, our daily mileage has been in the 13-14 range. In the Whites a 12 mile day is outstanding while 6 or 7 is the new norm. Although we sometimes feel discouraged, overall this hike is very satisfying. We will play the cards we are dealt.

18 year old Good Life sports this pink necktie each day. Always fun to mix it up with young hikers.

We had a great stay with my cousin Harriet Taylor in Framconia, NH. She picked us up at The Notch, fed is a killer casserole, gave us a bed and a hot shower, drove us to resupply food, and put us back on the trail. She is so much fun to visit. Can't wait to go back to Butter Hill to see her again.

There are eight huts spread along the AT through the White Mountains. None are accessible by vehicle. None have electricity except what they generate by solar or hydro. All are staffed by college kids who twice a week carry 100-120 pounds of food and other necessities for the 30-50 guests who pay $120 each night to eat dinner and breakfast and sleep in 4 high wooden bunks.

Since we don't shell out that kind of money, at the Gslehead hut we worked-for-stay. Best Wife's job was to clean a fridge while mine was to categorize and label the books in the library.

The wooden stump in the 11th picture is an exact replica of what animal?

Temps the past couple nights were in the 40s. Wind chill hiking up Mt Washington today was in the 30s. Our daughter Mackenzie shipped our winter sleeping bags to a hostel in Gotham, NH. Can't wait to settle in to some great cold weather sleeping coming up. Fall is right around the corner.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Basic Needs - Aug 17

Best Wife and Pappy 12 have hit the big time, we're in The Whites. The last six pictures are of a continuously cascading stream adjacent to our 2000 foot vertical climb in 1.5 miles, then another 1000 feet over the next couple miles to summit Mt Moosilauke. If Lafayette and Washington and Madison and all the rest of the Whites are like Moosilauke we are in for the treat of our lives. And some SOBOs say southern Maine is every bit as cool as the Whites. 

Just passed the 400 miles to go mark. Katahdin in Maine is becoming more and more a reality. 

Along the AT there are dozens if not hundreds of people who give of their time and means to help folks like us along our journey. Two examples of these folks are Greg Cook and Carl, The Omelette Man. 

Greg, (second and third photos) along with a couple dozen other residents in the Hanover, NH area (Dartmouth College) invite hikers into their homes for the night. They publish their phone numbers on a list so hikers can simply make a phone call to get a room for the night. Carl picked us up from the Hanover grocery store (the AT literally goes through the center of Hanover) and drove us to his home, then delivered us to church the next morning, then slack packed us on our next 8 mile hike. Wouldn't take a cent either. Perfect host. 

Carl, The Omelette Man has rigged up a "kitchen" on the AT a couple tenths from a road crossing. This kitchen stays intact in the woods all summer long. Every day (he does not take days off) Carl cooks ham, onion, green pepper, and cheese omelettes (scrambled eggs really) for hikers. He asks each hiker how many eggs they would like (the record was set by Summer Camp two days before we were there, 26) and then fills his cast iron skillet with ham and veggies in olive oil. Mine included more ham and veggies than eggs. And he does this seven days a week from 8-5 except Wednesday. He knocks off at 2:30 on Wednesdays to take trash to the dump.

Labors of love are all over the trail every day. Our turn will be coming up summer of 2018 off route 50 or 7 or 9. We've got plenty of time to plan our 'trail magic".  

In the first picture Best Wife lost half her pole in the NH mud. Pappy 12 rescued it. 

The AT goes up the rock face in the fifth picture. If it had been wet that day we would have to have gotten creative. 

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, August 13, 2017

39 - Aug 11

On Aug 10 Pappy 12 and Best Wife celebrated 39 years of blissful marriage by hiking 16 miles on the AT. Weather was good and a great day for hiking. We slept in the tent pictured below in a beautiful stealth campsite. 

Our normal routine each morning is to pick a tenting site for that night based on how many miles we think we will hike that day. Elevation gain, wet conditions, and dirt vs rocky treadway affect high (17) or low (12) miles for the day. Sometimes we make camp by 4:30, other times not until 7. 

Once done hiking for the day, chores are: hurry and choose the most level and private tenting spot to pitch the tent. While Best Wife is putting sleeping pads and bags in place, I will fetch enough water for cooking supper, drinking during supper, cooking breakfast, drinking during breakfast, and enough drinking water for hiking the next morning to make it to the next water source. The nearest water source the next morning could be in 4 miles or 14 miles. 

Every once in a while we have chosen to sleep in a shelter (pictured below) if it's vacant, clean, and late enough that other hikers probably will not show up (no guarantee there). The last couple times we stayed in a shelter rain was forecast for the night. I hate packing up a wet tent in the morning. 

Also the last couple times we slept in a shelter instead of tenting we did not have mice or mosquito issues. We've been lucky lately in shelters. 

Next chore is to get water boiling for supper (instant mashed taters with sausage crumbles and diced green peppers for me). After supper, find a suitable tree limb for a bear bag and get that dag gone rope over the limb while it's still light. 

Next go brush teeth and be sure all the snacks and food wrappers are out of our pockets and backpacks and in the Bear bags. Put away the stove, fuel, lighter, and anything else laying around. Hoist the bear bags off the ground and go jump in the sack. It feels so so good to lay down. 

Before I hit the sack I have to plan my 11pm and 3am pee spots. Decision making in the wee hours of the morning sometimes doesn't work out. Set the boots by my sleeping bag with my headlamp in one boot all ready for efficient night time peeing.  

Then wake up and hit the new day hard. 

The second picture was where we ate lunch on our anniversary. Spectacular views.  

The sixth picture down is of plastic tubing running all through the woods to collect maple tree sap in the springtime to make maple syrup. We have seen half a dozen elaborate tubing systems that extend further than I can see. 

Check out the size of the rocks on top of the stone wall in the eighth picture. I don't think even three strong men could hoist one of these 500 pounders. I'd like to see how stones were erected 100 years ago. 

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, August 12, 2017

More Than a Name - Aug 9

1500 miles into this hike and it gets better every day. For some unknown reason Best Wife and Pappy 12's daily miles seem to be a little higher than they used to be. Best Wife has a quicker step now. Maybe she can smell the summit in Maine.

A few days back we met two 50ish year old women hikers who were out on the trail for a few days. They were very impressed that Best Wife has hiked 1500 miles with such a positive attitude and determination. They acted like she is a super hero (which is true).

The next day when we saw them on the trail again they commented that after we had parted ways the previous day they had talked at length about Best Wife's name. At least three times they told us that she is so much more than that name. Okay, okay, we got it.

The next day in town we ran into them in a Mexican restaurant where they told us again that while hiking they talked for a long time about Best Wife's name. Again at least three times they told her with great concern in their voices that she is so much more than the name. They seemed to think that the name was demeaning, like she is my tag along or something. I told them it might be more appropriate if we changed her name to "Trophy Wife". They were not impressed.

Oh well, can't please everybody.

We've been seeing more of the goodies in the third picture. In this case a couple dozen cans of soda in a steam for hikers. Other times it will be watermelon in a cooler near a road crossing. Love it. Root beer never has been this good.

Couldn't figure out what the heck these king sized pellets were in the last picture until I googled it. Moose poop. Can't wait to see one of these big boys. But if I see as many moose as I've seen bear I'll be ticked.