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Let’s talk food! I’ve officially made it to the White Mountains and they are known for being very very challenging. Knowing this, we planned for lighter days (to do 10 miles as opposed to 20 miles) and we planned correctly. The steep ascents and descents make it very difficult to move quickly and safely at the same time. My companions who move faster tend to fall more, I choose to move slower to limit my risk of injury. Since we are expelling more energy, my hiker hunger has exploded. I am ravenous! I have never been as hungry as I am right now.
Since it is colder, I have reverted back to buying Snickers because they are an excellent snack to boost energy. It is difficult to resupply in the Whites so we try to supplement our meals by eating free breakfast and dinners at the huts when we get work-for-stay (this wasn’t difficult for us because we hiked outside of the bubble), buying soup and baked goods at the huts to ration our food, and take advice of other hikers and hitch to convenience stores when in the valley (we were tipped about a camp store at Crawford Notch and were able to do a small resupply which we originally did not think we could do).
All in all, we moved through the White Mountains with plenty of food. I made sure to bring lots of cash because the Huts do not typically take credit cards. All of the Huts sold Snickers and Cliff Bars so I made sure to buy some at every Hut. There are also Hiker Boxes at every Hut and often the guests there leave their extra snacks. The guests tend to be…more financially stable so the snacks that I found were organic, unique, and so exciting to find because they were different!
For meals I typically look for items like these:
Breakfast: I love the Lenny & Larry protein cookies that are 400 calories. They can be found at Wal-Mart near the vitamins or other health foods. If I can’t find those I look for BelVita Breakfast cookies and/Cliff Bars.
Second Breakfast includes more of the above but often trail mix or jerky. Lately I’ve been packing out cereal because it is light. I just take a spoon to it and eat it dry.
Lunch: The main course is typically some kind of tuna/chicken/salmon from a packet on a tortilla and then I supplement with chips and candy.
Mid afternoon snack tends to be jerky and more candy for an energy boost but also a mental boost. I love any candy that is sweet and sour gummies, peanut M&Ms, and our most favorite…Haribo Twin Snakes. My tramily has made it their mission to covert everyone over to Twin Snakes. They are a gummy that is shaped like two snakes attached at the head and the hip, one side is sour and the other is sweet. They seriously are better than any other gummy worm out there.
Dinner: I have had mashed potatoes for dinner every night for the entirety of the trail and no I am not tired of it. At 400 calories a piece, I just merely warm up water and pour into the mash potato bag. I try to never have to clean my pot because I hate doing dishes in my real life (why would I want to do them on trail?!). I put protein powder and turmeric into my taters for added calories and for their health benefits (turmeric is supposedly good for the joints). Also since I do not boil water, I’m only on my third mini gas canister of the whole trip. I am still using the same lighter from Georgia. One lighter…1,800 miles.
New Hampshire is all the states combined. There is the mud of Vermont, the rock climbs of New York, rivers and ponds of New Jersey, rocks like Pennsylvania, and views like the south. It really does feel like all the other states prepared me for this moment. And if you are going southbound, New Hampshire will prepare you for the rest of the trail.
August 20The 4,000 foot mountains of New Hampshire started today. I kicked butt climbing Smarts Mountain and then it kicked mine…I could hardly hike the rest of the day. I got to see the Dartmouth Hiking club work on the trail. I am very thankful for all trail maintainers. That night we stayed at the really cool Hexacuba Shelter! The shelter was hexagon shaped! It is definitely one of my favorites.
Bad rain. At one point a crash of thunder and a bolt of lightning went off to the right of me. It sounded exactly like a gunshot and I nearly jumped out of my skin I was so startled. We passed groups of college kids in full rain gear as we skidded by completely soaked in shorts and short sleeved shirts. We stayed the night in town at Diggs’s friend’s house. They were amazing and let us stay at their camper. Their 14 year old son woke up to cook us breakfast in the morning – it was amazing.
We climbed over Mount Moosilauke. Honestly it was not as bad as I thought it would be. Unfortunately it was foggy when we got to the top so we didn’t see out into the distance however we did appreciate a different view. The climb down was seriously difficult and dangerous. The SOBOs that I met in New York were right about the wet wooden stairs. There were wooden stairs drilled into the slick rock face. The beautiful view ahead of me was really distracting, one wrong step would result in a very bad injury. But afterwards I looked back and thought to myself, “that wasn’t so bad.” Was it more difficult than anything else? Yes. But it was manageable. We picked up a section hiker who we named Bolt and introduced her to stealth camping. I have been carrying around an inflatable unicorn named Charles. The wind was too strong to take pictures with him on top of Moosilauke, but I plan for him to make many many appearances.
My tramily and I attempted a 17 mile day up over the Kinsman Mountains. The climb up to the ridge was legitimate hand over foot climbing. At many points of the “hike” the path in front of me turned into a vertical wall that I had to scale. I was very thankful that it wasn’t raining but the Kinsmans had bogs prior to the rock climbs and my shoes were wet. Though this was officially the hardest hike I had ever attempted, I couldn’t help but love it. It was so much fun. I was exposed, way above treeline and the added difficulty kept me mentally engaged for hours. I kept stopping mid climb to look over my shoulder, the view was breath taking. We lucked out and got work for stay for three of us at the Lonesome Lake Hut (luckily I didn’t have to do the 17 miles day after all). The lake below the Hut was gorgeous and the Hut crew were awesome. The Hut that night was completely booked. I had Charles poking out of my backpack and every kid who walked by got the biggest kick out of him. “Daddy! Daddy! Look! A unicorn!!” I still can’t really understand why people would choose to spend a night in a Hut. It is about $140 a night, you get breakfast and dinner but nothing else. There is a bunk with a pillow and wool blankets and pit toilets. No showers available. I slept for free on the dining room floor and was fed meals in exchange for cleaning out the fridge. Don’t the people realize you can camp for free in the woods?
I woke up to pain in my second toe on the right foot. In-grown toe nail. Not good. I tried to get it out while the Hut guests started piling into the dining room. My tramily and I stayed for breakfast but we didn’t leave the Hut until 10 am. Hikers and Hut workers eat after the guests. We walked about 7 miles into the town of Lincoln. We did a small resupply and I got to binge on spaghetti at a Italian restaurant. Afterwards we started the trek up to Franconia Ridge. Once in the ridge we hiked up to the optional Mt Liberty and stealth camped between Liberty Springs Campsite and Mt Little Haystack. The views from Mt Liberty was such a treat. Breathtaking views in all directions. We were so lucky for good weather. It was so quiet on top of the mountain that it was deafening. It was so cold at night being at about 3,000 foot elevation that I had to sleep with my filter again. I haven’t had to do this since North Carolina.
My friends and I stealth camped in a very tight spot and woke up to walk the Franconia Ridge. Thank goodness we had incredible weather for it. The first time I hiked this ridge, I did so with my cousin and sister. All we saw was fog and I was so sore that I couldn’t walk for three days. This day however was perfect. It was difficult to walk with our jaws on the ground. Every turn, every look was jaw dropping beautiful. It is so difficult to describe, you have to just see it for yourself. How beautiful our country is, how majestic these ancient mountains are. They have stood the test of time, if only they could talk. Four of us ended the day doing work for stay at Galehead hut. We beasted at washing the dishes and got dinner out of it. Pusher negotiated further with the Hut “croo.” For an additional 20 minutes of work we could have brownies for breakfast. Done!
To keep it short but sweet. We started at Galehead Hut, walked 11 miles and got free breakfast at Zealand Hut. We passed Ethan Pond and stealth camped by railroad tracks. We were lucky and got two great hitches to a camp store where we could do a small resupply.
On day 148 I climbed Mount Washington. Honestly, I think today was the best day that I have had on the entire trail. It was a physically challenging day, but it was mentally stimulating with more breathtaking views and all my hard work was rewarded at the end. We started the day getting breakfast at Mizpah Hut and after 18 miles over Washington, we got dinner and work for stay at Madison Hut.
I think I finally figured it out. These huts are like summer camp for adults.
We made friends with the hut crew and got special privileges. Half my tramily didn’t want to do 18 miles over Washington so we waited for them at Madison Hut. We had to eventually leave the Hut and walked 3 miles to the next campsite and set up before the rain.
5 easy miles to Pinkham Notch for good food and then a challenging 5 mile climb of the Wild Cats. The campstore there exchanged my holey Darn Tough socks for new ones. It was another good but tiring day. When at the restaurant at Pinkham Notch a muggle offered to buy my friends pints of Ben & Jerry’s. Butters made sure that one of the pints were lactose free so I too could enjoy this Trail Magic.
We went over the Carters. As we stopped for lunch we met a section hiker named Chris. He specifically packed out trail magic for the thru-hikers he met on trail. We stayed at the last shelter before the road. Butters ran ahead, went to the road, hitched into town, bought goodies for us, and then hitched back to the trail and hiked back to the shelter. Goodies for Labor Day. This hiker knows where it is at.
We nearo’ed into Gorham. It is difficult being in a place with good reception. The people at home want to talk to you but you are trying to still be in the moment. I hate being on my phone. While I am hiking, I have really been trying to take in the social moments around me. When we all are huddled around a camp fire or sharing a meal together, I study people’s faces and interactions with one another and try to sear these moments of pure joy into my brain. These perfect moments between exhaustion, pain, and discomfort. These moments aren’t going to last forever. September is coming.
Stay wild and stay safe!