Day 72

My alarm sounds at 6 and I rub my eyes in hopes of wiping the fatigue away. Not a chance. I’m so tired. I lift myself off the floor and pack it up. I eat several clif bars for breakfast as the croo rolls out carts of hot food. I leave by 7:15. I can’t handle the sight and smell of delicious hot food. It’s foggy again but it’s not raining. I have a feeling the rain has passed. I begin my climb up Mt Washington immediately. 1.5 miles and 1000 feet and I’m there. The wind is gently blowing the fog around. It’s chilly but not biting. I had to keep a keen eye out for the carines that mark the trail. There were no blazes and the trail was just a jumble of rocks to hop to and fro.

As I was approaching the summit I would make out the outline of the weather station and towers. I walked into the visitors center and found a hiker named Derby and his friend who had joined him for this section. The tourists had not arrived yet. It was 8:30 and the clouds were clearing just as I approached the summit sign.

After a few moments taking photos at the top I started my way down as cars were driving up from the auto road and the steam train chugging up the mountain pushing a passenger car. I hobbled my way down through the rocks and around Mt Clay in the full sun of the morning with little black spiders popping in and out of the cracks in the rocks. I saw a hiker up ahead I had met the day I hiked Moosilauke. He had stopped to talk that day and his name was Doc. Doc was stopped up ahead talking to another hiker as I approached. Doc remembered me and we hiked together all the way to Madison Springs Hut. Doc stopped to talk to nearly every hiker we passed. He talked his way into a piece of pizza some section hikers had carried with with them from New Haven CT. Doc was good company and I was glad to have a buddy to navigate the sharp unmarked rocky trail. Once we reached the hut we asked for our free bowl of soup and baked good. We both went for chocolate cake. Tree Trunk joined us soon after.

My feet were in bad shape. After I ate I went outside to stick my feet up in the air. On my way out Quest and his friend Anchor walked in. I elevated my feet for about 45 minutes and then continued on. I couldn’t wait to stop hiking for the day. I climbed up Mt Madison and began my 3000 foot descent out of the presidential range. It was nothing but a pile of rocks that went on for miles.

I quickly caught up with Quest, Tree Trunk, and Doc. Anchor seemed to be running down the trail. Doc and I continued on together at the same pace and we talked about our lives before the trail. Doc had recently retired from 20 years driving a UPS truck. He was using the trail to transition his body from a desk tray life into a more active retirement life. Doc told me about how he was part of a 4 sibling bi racial family from Utah that were all adopted by a couple from Charlottesville, VA where he was raised.

We reached the Osgood Campsite around 4:30. I had planned to stop there for the night. I had done 10 hard miles today and was ready to stop. Doc kept hiking 5 more miles to Pinkham Notch. I ate my dinner at the campsite and pondered the remaining sunlight of the day. The terrain of the next 5 miles didn’t look too hard, pretty flat considering what I had just done. By 5:45 everyone passing through kept hiking. I didn’t want to be there by myself so I threw on my pack and began to power walk my way down the trail trekking poles flailing through the air. I passed Derby and his friend, Tree Trunk, and Quest. I passed the Mt Washington auto road and looked up at the mountain top I had just walked down from. I arrived at the Pinkham Notch visitors center as the last light of the day was fading, about 8 o’clock. Turnip, Doc and Anchor were there outside snacking. I bought an ice cream sandwich and joined them. Anchor was accompanying Quest shuttling cars back and forth to help with slackpacking. Doc, Anchor and Quest were headed to a hotel for the night. Turnip was camping in the woods close by so I joined her. I was finally able to bed down about 9 thoroughly exhausted.

Miles: 1857.7 – 1872.6 (14.9)

Total: 756.6