Beaker’s first day in New Hampshire (July 13) brought monsoon-like rain in the morning. He delayed his start until the rains stopped mid-morning. He then stopped at Dan and Whit’s General Store in Norwalk for a resupply and a deli sandwich for second breakfast. Crossing the Connecticut River, Beaker officially entered Hanover, New Hampshire. He enjoyed the college ivy-league town for awhile (Dartmouth College) by getting a free donut at the bakery and a slice of pizza from a hiker-friendly pizza shop. About 3:00, Beaker left Hanover and headed toward the woods of the Appalachian Trail. He still managed to hike a total of 11 miles before camping at a stealth site on Mink Brook.
July 14 was a blustery, chilly day with lots of clouds but not much sunshine.”The trail was still mucky and muddy from all the rain we’ve been having and the trees were dripping water. All in all, another yucky day of hiking. It was also a pretty tough day of hiking. There was a lot of up and down….All the overlooks I passed were blank white screens – not a thing to see at any of them. The Smokies all over again.” Beaker’s diligence in hiking, however, produced 20.1 miles and he ended up in his tent close to the Hexacuba Shelter. Shortly after getting his transient home set up for the night, Sitting Bull and Hoops showed up at camp. This couple had been hiking with Beaker for several days in July but had gotten behind Beaker’s pace. They had cranked out a big-mileage day to catch him in the hopes of hiking through the Whites together. Beaker was elated.
July 15 started with a discouraging rain. “The day looked like every other day we’ve had lately – gray, overcast, misty, humid, wet, and drippy. I’ve actually given up on wearing my glasses when I hike because it is either raining or so humid that they immediately fog up… Don’t even talk to me about the views! Every time I’d come to a rock outcropping on top of a mountain, I’d see this great expanse of white clouds and know that there was a spectacular view hiding in there….The heavy rain left the trail a soggy, slippery mess. The mud was slippery. The rocks were slippery. The roots were slippery. And the logs were slippery. As a result, I took a couple of tumbles today.” One resulted in a twisted knee and another caused a broken hiking pole. The trio ended the day at the Hiker’s Welcome Hostel. Tomorrow the hostel staff will drive Sitting Bull, Hoops and Beaker’s non-essential hiking supplies to Notch Hostel in North Woodstock allowing them to hike over Mount Moosilauke with just the minimums for the day. The 10-mile hike over Moosilauke will take most of the day because of the steep ascents and descents. Total miles today – 14.8. Welcome to the Whites – the miles are tough and the terrain is challenging.
July 16 turned out to be a day filled with sunshine! Beaker, Hoops and Sitting Bull were all excited to have good weather as they headed up their first big mountain in the Whites. Slack-packing involves hiking while carrying only the things the hiker needs for that day. They loaded tents, sleeping bags, and extra food into a bag that the hostel transported to the next hostel. Beaker and friends carried a lunch, plenty of water, a first aid kit, and extra clothes, thus reducing the weight from around 30 lbs to about 10 lbs.
The climb up Mt. Moosilauke involved climbing 3793 ft in elevation over 5.5 miles. They experienced the summit in beautiful, clear weather. Lots of pictures were snapped and they all enjoyed a lunch on top of Moosilauke. After lunch, the descent began on the other side. It was much steeper than the ascent with several near vertical sections. Beaker’s knees were screaming before the trio were halfway down the mountain. They made it to the base of Moosilauke just in time to catch the shuttle van back to the Notch Hostel.
The plan for July 17 was to slack-pack again from Kinsman Notch, over Wolf Mountain and Kinsman Mountain, and down into Franconian Notch, and then to be picked up by a shuttle in order to stay another night at Notch Hostel. The day broke with more sunshine.
Beaker was climbing up a slick, tilted rock about eight feet high. At the top, he slid down the rock, wedging his left hiking pole horizontally between a rock and a tree. He had his hand through the wrist strap on the pole. So, he ended up suspended in a prone position on the rock with his wrist trapped in the strap and his feet about a foot off the ground – stuck. Fortunately, Hoops rushed and pushed the hiking pole loose and allowed Beaker to slide back down the rock face to the ground. After checking that all body parts were still functioning correctly, they all enjoyed a good laugh.
Beaker, Sitting Bull and Hoops reached the pickup point at 5:20 PM, just as the first big drops of rain began splattering around them. The shuttle driver, having seen the weather forecast, had arrived early. Just as they dove into the van, the skies opened up with a huge storm, complete with sheets of rain, thunder, lightning, and dime-sized hail.
Tomorrow, Beaker hopes to head up the Franconia Ridge.