Days 31-35 Southbound: Onward Through the Whites

Day 31: Garfield Campsite to Lonesome Hut, 13.1 miles

I didn’t sleep the best in the shelter but I also didn’t sleep the worst. I hiked out a little before 6:30AM being the first one to knock down the cobwebs. I had to climb up and over Mt. Garfield and the clouds parted just a bit to reveal the sun and the mountains.

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Next peak was Lafayette and then Lincoln. As I was coming up and over the first summit of Lafayette, I was in awe of the beauty. You could see for miles and my heart was so full. I don’t want to give it away too much but Franconia Ridge is beautiful and everyone should do. There are a lot of false summits but every single one of them is worth it.

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I flew down the mountain with some trail runners flip flopping past me as I went near the Flume Visitor Center. I was sitting waiting for some friends to catch up from behind. I ran into a Nobo hiker and some day hikers who were willing to shuttle me into town if I walked half a mile to the parking lot. They were my trail angels and even gave me a banana. They dropped me off at El Greco Pizza where I had pizza and fries. Next I walked across the street for a light resupply at the grocery store. Finally, I walked to the ice cream place and met a nice older couple from New Jersey. There was no Uber and I had to find a ride back to town. I went to the corner of the road and waited for about 10 minutes until a dad and daughter picked me up to drive me back to the Liberty Springs Trailhead.

Once I got back on trail my stomach was so full. Shortly before reaching the Lonesome Hut, I ran into Fruitboot and McDouble07 and we tabled what to do for the night since it was raining. We awkwardly hung out in the hut for a bit and decided to stay. I was lucky enough to get to do an AT talk for a few people and answer any of their questions. Happy to have somewhere dry to stay for the night.

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Day 32: Lonesome Hut to Kinsman Notch (The Notch), 13.5 miles

We woke up to the sound of rain hitting the roof of the Hut. We headed out in the rain taking it nice and slow with FruitBoot and McDouble07 aka Bumblebee because of his jacket. It was nice being able to walk with some other people and going at someone’s pace.

They kept talking about how another guy’s dad would be waiting at the trailhead parking lot with pizza and beers, which he was – pizza and Fresca.

I ran into Chips who had just slackpacked the Kinsman and she convinced me easily to come to town for my last hostel stay at the Notch.

I stayed out in the shed on a cot at the Notch Hostel, which was dark and quiet. Two things I needed to get a good nights rest.

I headed into town with Chips, newly Phantom, Pony Express, and Diesel, a father and son, to a burger joint in town. It was so good and I definitely didn’t regret coming into town a day early.

Day 33: Kinsman Notch to NH Route 25C, 14.4 miles

I left the Notch Hostel and was back on trail by 7:15AM to climb Mt. Moosilauke, which was a rocky and steep climb until the Beaver Brook Shelter. Afterwards, it was smooth sailing until I got above tree line. The view was beautiful and the ridge walk wasn’t bad. I hiked fast on the descent to reach the boys and even tried some trail running because it was that smooth.

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I caught up to them at the Hikers Welcome Hostel, where I had a box sent and a hiker’s combo of pizza, a soda, and an ice cream sandwich. The boys informed me they were heading to a campground for the night and a brewery. Although I felt strange accepting because I hadn’t actually met Chris but decided to go anyway. This was my third day in town for food and it clearly doesn’t take much to persuade me. I was happy to be able to shower two days in a row at the campground and to do laundry again. I had pizza for the third day in a row and went bed with a full and warm belly. Thankful for the people the trail has provided.

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Day 34: NH Route 25C to Smart Mountain Tenting, 15 miles

I woke up in my tent in an RV campground. It was probably the best sleep I’ve had yet because I didn’t even hear Bumblebees alarm go off. I was handed a cappuccino and muffin-like I was at Starbucks – like, what? This was seriously luxurious backpacking for sure. We hit the trail around 7AM.

Once we crossed the trail and entered the woods, we hit trail magic! We walked fast pretty easily given the terrain and even hit a second trail magic of water right before Cube Mountain which was a tough climb. We took a long break in the sunshine at the summit. I was walking with BumbleBee and Fruitboot until we got to the Hexacube shelter. Then BumbleBee and I hiked to the Smart Mountain fire tower, which was a nice view.

After hanging out, it was a Nobo/Sobo bubble meet up. We all watched the sunset together and even Phantom, Pony Express, and Diesel camped here too.

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Day 35: Smart Mountain Tenting to Hanover, 22.5 miles

I woke up to the sound of people talking while waiting for the sunrise in the morning. I quickly packed up, waited in line for the privy, and said my goodbyes to Fruitboot, who was going to Boston for a quick trip with the rest of the group.

The terrain was much easier today with only three mountains to climb. I walked with Bumblebee into Hanover. We walked pretty fast and without much rest. Bubblebee was struggling after mile 16 and was easily irritable. I was happy to make it into town and have unlimited food at the Dartmouth College dining hall, which I regretted afterwards.

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