If only all days could be like /this/ day…
Today started with a hearty breakfast of huge pancakes, bacon, and eggs, with strong coffee and the V8 juice I bought. A good breakfast for what promised to be a most challenging climb up the third steepest mountain on the AT.
It did not disappoint! By 8 am, I was standing in the parking lot by the trailhead, staring almost 5000 feet up Moosilauke. I tried to take a picture from the bottom, but it didn’t come out – when the sun washes out the screen, you can’t always be sure you actually TOOK the picture.
Then, from the getgo, the trail climbed. This section of trail is also called the Beaver Brook Trail, and said brook runs right alongside the trail, often with some pretty spectacularly beautiful waterfalls; the water sprays the trail, making footing all the slicker. At times, at the steepest parts, there were wooden steps, beams bolted into the rock. There were also times where there was iron rebar to grab onto. But usually, I was scrambling up under my own power, with or without poles. A mile and a half of vertical rock scramble, the purest fun. Then, at the mile and a half point, the Beaver Brook Shelter, a great place for a break, a snack, a pitstop, refill water bottles, etc.
The path for the rest of the way up the mountain was gentler, but still fun to climb. The summit was above tree line, and marked by tall cairns, since there was nothing really to paint white blazes on. The path was small rocks at that point; the summit itself was marked by a circular rock wall that people were making use of to shelter from the wind. It really was quite chilly up there! I didn’t stay too long, I was getting cold.
My arms remind me I forgot one crucial fact – the higher you get, the more easily you sunburn, and because of wielding the hiking poles, in areas I don’t usually burn. It’s going to be an uncomfortable night. I just took Advil, that will help some.
Back to the trail though. What goes up must come down! And the coming down is rarely ever as pleasant as the going up. Steep, rocky, and really hard on the knees. Eventually, the steepness eased, but it was pretty much all downhill for five miles. Toward the end was another shelter; I stopped in for another pitstop, and chatted with the two hikers staying there, trading stories of trail magic, before moving on.
The hostel I am again staying at was only a mile and a bit further, and I caught the shuttle to the convenience store/deli – I was starving! A huge roast beef sub, a large can of Sam Adams, and a shower later, I feel much better, but very tired, and the arms are hot!
Today was a great day. Tomorrow will be just as great, despite the fact I’m turning 42. Tomorrow I catch a shuttle to North Woodstock, NH, where I will zero at another hostel, and be reunited with Morning Song for a few days! He says he is old and fat again… Well, we’ll see about that! Tuesday we’ll hike up into the Whites. I’ll just have to remember the sunscreen this time.