Day 111-113, June 21-23

Miles from Springer Mountain: 1827

Miles to Mount Katahdin: 365

Late on the 20th I was joined at the hostel by a few friends from home – Scott, Alex, and Merle, I’ve known all of them for years and they wanted to join me to hike a few miles of the AT. Scott has plenty of experience hiking the trail, but this was Alex and Merle’s first taste of the AT and boy, did they get a taste! They drove 14 hours from Northern Indiana, most of you who read are Hoosiers, but maybe you haven’t been to New Hampshire… let me tell you it’s not all corn fields and country roads up here.

We left out early on the 21st with a touch of rain, I anticipated it would yield as the afternoon wore on. Our first big task was summiting Mt. Mousilake, one of the more famous and gnarly mountain climbs on the trail. The guys were introduced to the trail with a 3500 foot climb over 5 miles – a climb that’s tough for thru-hikers. It didn’t help that the rain didn’t stop, it also didn’t help that the wind was blowing 35+ mph, it also didn’t help that the trail wasn’t very well marked and we kept getting lost. We ran over the summit, I knew the conditions were hypothermic, we ran to the tree line to take refuge from the wind. Stumbling into the shelter, we were all waterlogged and shaking. It was decided to stay and warm up, although the day was called short, we couldn’t go onward. Instead we took the time to relax and catch up, I’d rather cut a day short and enjoy my time than get my miles in but have a miserable time!

Although the guys had a rough first day on trail they woke up excited and ready to tackle day two! I think they were all running on pure adrenaline, which may have been dampened by putting on wet clothes. We pushed on with much better weather towards Beaver Brook Falls and Mt. Wolf. Finally with no rain or clouds we saw some beautiful views and a pleasant day of hiking. The bugs weren’t terrible until the evening where we settled at Eliza Brook Shelter.

On the 23rd we set off towards Franconia Notch where the guys would shuttle back to the car and I would carry on towards Mt. Lafayette. The day started with a huge climb, but it was worth it at the top – the best view of the weekend was at Kinsman Mountain. We sat at the top staring off into the distance, the New Hampshire mountains and landscape go in forever at above 4000 feet. It was an easy, sloping hike towards the Notch and I said goodbye to the guys. I’m impressed at how well the hiked, this is a real tough part of the trail and without any experience up here they held the pace and persevered. It’s a testament that anyone can hike this trail, you just have to have the will to commit yourself to putting one foot in front of the other.

After they left I set off towards Mt. Lafayette, a mile-high bare summit that is the first in a slew of roller coaster climbs through the Whites. There was no rain, but the wind was horrendous. I couldn’t walk normally, the wind would blow my ankles into each other as I lifted my feet. I have a new found respect for wind, I thought I knew what a breeze was after standing under a refueling helicopter while in the Navy, but I was reintroduced on Sunday! I made it over the mountain to camp a few miles before Garfield Pond. It was a windy night, but a beautiful tent site overlooking the NH valleys.

This trail is something to experience first hand and hopefully I’ve inspired some of you to set out towards a white blaze. I was thankful some friends of mine took advantage of my time on trail and joined me in my experience, the conversation and friendship gave me a mental boost as I start the process of completing my hike. I know plenty of you can’t join and are with me in spirit! The next few days are a huge point in my hike – Mt. Washington approaches!

Thanks for following along!

9 comments

  1. That hair is *perfectly* windswept 😜 Glad the boys could keep you company for a few days – sending you love from back home!!

  2. Awesome story! You’ve hooked me in to going back and reading more! God Bless and Godspeed!

  3. So happy that your friends got to experience part of the journey and you were able to catch up. A huge thank you to each of them for caring for you and reaching out to reconnect. Always proud of you, son. See you soon!

  4. Hi there Yukon, it sounds like you had a good time with your friends, the weather sure hasn’t been good to you you just keep trucking on I am proud of you looking forward to seeing you after this great adventure What an experience take care of yourself keep strong the end is just around the corner good luck and stay safe. Nancy

  5. We have been to Franconia Notch state park 20 yrs ago but only to go to the Flume. Beautiful. I have heard it can be quite windy. I look forward to reading your posts. You are getting so close. Keep your positive attitude and it won’t seem like a struggle (I am sure some days can be a challenge).

    Carol Hooley

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