Literally kicking myself for being so close to grabbing Galehead and North Twin from passing by on the Appalachian Trail. I only had grabbed South Twin. I remember I stopped at Galehead Hut for potato dill soup and was only a half mile away from the summit…
Anyway, I needed to grab Galehead and North Twin. Another longer stay resident at the Notch, John (also a teacher from Boston) had mentioned he knew of another girl around my age grabbing those peaks tomorrow. He suggested I ask if I didn’t want to hike solo again if I could come with. I heard she wasn’t due to come in late but there was another woman currently at the hostel, who was going with her, Colleen.
She just so happened to be staying in the room across the hall from me. I strategically sat in front of my open door hoping to catch her and ask if I could join. When she walked by I said, “Hey, your name is Colleen right?” Head nod. “Can I hike the Twins and Galehead tomorrow with you?”
From there, a beautiful new friendship was born. Colleen was going to be finishing her NH48 on North Twin tomorrow. She was anxious and excited to be finishing her list and to be hiking with complete strangers. She texted the group and after sharing my brief hiking resume, I, too, set my alarm for 5:15AM. I definitely felt nervous too and was doubting my own abilities. These people sounded like they climbed the mountains in the Whites every weekend. I would be no match for them.
I awoke the next day before my alarm even went off. I was anxiously, excited for the hike. I finally met Courtney that morning and she shared in the excitement.
We met a guy named Neal at the trailhead parking early. The plan was to hike up Galehead River Trailhead to Galehead hut. It was a pretty gradual climb for the Whites. Neal took off pretty fast to warm up his legs. Us girls took a slower pace to start knowing we had a big day ahead of us. Neal would wait up for us and snap some photos.
Courtney and Colleen walked together for a bit and I caught up to Neal. We walked and chatted for a bit about backpacking, gear, what NH48 I had left, and some of our own hiking journeys.
Eventually, the trail began to get steeper and become filled with larger boulders. We knew we were getting close especially after reaching a junction. We left a stick propped up against the signpost for another guy who was going to join us.
I walked with Courtney right behind me and we both shared similar stories/experiences of what got us involved in hiking/backpacking. Even our stories with friends was similar and I was happy to have someone that finally understood.
Approaching the hut, it was a sad site to see the windows and doors boarded up. We were still in the clouds and the window/ mist hit us even more on the porch, where we dropped our packs to have a quick snack. We headed for the half mile to grab Galehead. It was quick steep, bouldery ascent with no views being a tree covered summit.
Courtney has this fun tradition to take a photo of her backside with her bare back shown at each summit (when possible). Knowing my following of middle school female students I opted not to participate this time.
Neal and I had back to the hut. The wind seemed to calm down when we reached the hut again to finish our snacks.
Everyone had talked up our next ascent to South Twin. One of the hardest .8 miles in the Whites. Luckily, the last time I was climbing down but this time I had to go up and down. We all approached it at our own paces.
Courtney’s friend Josh caught up to us and quickly moved ahead to catch up with Neal. Us girls decided to take our own time until we wouldn’t meet again at the top. At first, I didn’t remember the descent down but I quickly remembered. It wasn’t too bad of a climb to the top. But there didn’t happen to be any views and it was cold/windy. The same weather I had experienced last July.
We quickly reconvened and dropped our packs to grab one last peak, North Twin. It was one mile away and everyone could sense the energy in the air. We practically all took off at a run descending down hill to only go back up again crossing some wet sections, rock hopping our way to victory. There was a few patches of snow left over but we quickly pushed on. We reached the wooded summit. Colleen hadn’t finished her list like she expected nor planned but nonetheless she did the damn thing! With four strangers that quickly turned into friends.
Everyone already had finished their list and it was only me left. We shared if I could get the list done by next weekend, we would all meet up again for it. Thus, began the lighting of the fuse.
We headed back down only to go up again to South Twin. The clouds began to give us glimpses of a few views. Eventually the clouds melted away and it was the prefect ending to a prefect day.