3 years ago, I met my college friend Peanut (Melanie) for my first backpacking trip. Peanut was thru hiking and had just reached the 1800 mile mark. I would be joining her for a 16 mile section over the Kinsman mountains in the Whites of New Hampshire. It was a lot harder than I expected and I spent the week afterward hobbling around the office on sore hips and knees. It was the hardest thing I had ever done and the most extraordinary. Thanks, Peanut for taking care of a “tenderfoot”. Since I’ve already suffered through the Kinsmans, I decided to skip that section and head straight for Franconia Ridge.
Luckily, a new acquaintance I had met in April wanted to join me in the Whites. Pia is from Germany and is a doctoral student in computer science at University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Pia was able to pick me up in Greenfield after a day off and drive us 2.5 hours to Lincoln, NH to the Liberty Springs trailhead. We arrived at 4:30pm to begin our 2800-foot ascent to the Liberty Springs campsite 3.5 miles up Mt. Liberty. The climb up was extremely steep but at least there were medium sized rocks to step up on instead of a shear cliff face (like the Kinsmans). We arrived about 6:30 and I started setting up the tent anxiously before the sun went down. I was hoping to hike the half mile up to catch the sunset. Wooden tent platforms are a challenge for my non-free standing tent so it took some time and engineering to make it stay up.
The campsite was crowded with section hikers and a few thru hikers. The campground caretaker came by to collect the fee for staying the night ($10 per person) and to issue my Thru Hiker pass which gets me discounts at other campgrounds and huts throughout the Whites. I’ve entered another National Park like the Shenandoahs which also means I’ve entered the twilight zone of tourists and pay-to-play outdoor recreation. Pia and I ate our dinners by the bear box with a 60 year old section hiker named Cake and two french Canadians with a giant bar of Toblertone. The water source was cleverly routed though a carved piece of woods with leaves on top. Pia had packed 3 containers of quinoa salad she had made complete with dressing on the side. It looked so good compared to my black bean mush. We were so tired after the difficult climb up and time consuming camp chores that we missed the sunset. We crawled into the cramped tent for the night hoping it wouldn’t rain since I wasn’t able to figure out a way for the doors on the tent to close due to the wooden platform configuration.
Miles: 1819 – 1821.5 (3.5)