The Ziptie is not a quitter. But I cannot deny that as I finished the last of the Presidentials on the AT, it nearly finished me!
The day began with some truly delicious French toast, sausage, a homemade banana nut muffin, and coffee at the White Mountain Hostel. The day ended with a salami and cheese tortilla, hastily rolled, trail mix, and water. And in between? ELEVATION!
First, I had to get back to the AT at Madison Spring Hut, the point I’d left it at. The hostel owners shuttled me back to the trailhead for the blue blaze trail I had taken down, and I began the climb back up – the Hut is at 4800, I estimate I went up about 2500. I arrived there later than I meant, at about 2:00, but rested anyway, had some soup, lemonade, a cookie. The hut crew recognized me and were glad to see me ambulatory. 🙂
I toyed briefly with the idea of staying at the hut, but I had a plan I wanted to stick to, so at 3 pm, I made for the summit of Madison, the longest .5 miles away ever. I kept losing the path, what path there was, in a sea of rocks, so half the time, I just climbed straight up toward the cairns. Compared to what came next, reaching the summit was easy. Elevation there was 5300.
Next was about seven smaller peaks. Nasty rockpiles all, and taking forever to negotiate. And I am sick, sick, SICK of rockpile mountains! Also, on the elevation map, this section of trail looks like it jumps off a cliff. This is not an exaggeration! Even after I got below tree line again, there were still rocks, and then there was this very sharp angle downwards to contend with, too. The campground I was headed for was at 2555 feet, so having climbed about 3000 feet to get to Mt. Madison, I then had to drop about the same amount. Eesh.
The five miles from the Hut to the campground I was aiming for? I never finished them. Not today. When it started to get on to dusk, I started looking for a place to stealth camp. I can’t say that the place I picked out of sheer necessity is particularly stealthy – I set up camp where the trail widened enough for my tent, and still leave room for someone to go by, just in case. But I will be packed up and gone by the time anyone can make it here, I hope. I know I am close to that campground, but I didn’t feel inclined to risk breaking my neck.
This was a very hard day. It was almost heartbreaking to crest a hill and see another hill, over and over. And though I bought knee braces for each knee, they still hurt. They still complain. Earlier, I was almost resolved to give up, but I don’t think I will. I will hit Pinkham Notch tomorrow, and I swear, save for the possible exception of Mt. Washington, I am never entering the Presidential Range ever ever again! You all are my witnesses!
Oh, those knees. C’mon Advil, work! My food bag is hanging, but not properly in a way where bears can’t reach it, so I am simply praying for no ursine visits tonight. I am surrounded by tall pines with no suitable branches within reach.
I hike on.
Madison is *the worst*. I know experienced hikers who would have quit the trail in the middle of it if there a way to get off of it.