Today was probably my favorite day on the AT! But first I have to confess…I did not stay at the Hikers Welcome Hostel after all. I hung out there until about 4:30 then decided to hike 1.5 miles to the Jeffers Brook Shelter. It wasn’t that I couldn’t stand to take an easy day. only went another 1.5 miles after all. It was that the hostel was a bit nasty and I didn’t want to stay in the stuffy bunk room for $20 or camp in the yard for $15 when I could camp in the woods for free. So I packed up and hiked to the Jeffers Brook Shelter where I found a great campsite on soft pine needles and listened to the brook as I read then went to sleep.
I woke up early excited to be climbing my first big mountain in the Whites, Mount Moosilauke. It’s pronounced moose-uh-lock with emphasis on the first syllable. I hit the trail just before six energized from eating some of the goodies The Princess sent me. The climb was long and steep for 3.9 miles to the summit. It was cool and really windy above tree line and I put on my Smartwool long sleeve shirt and wool hat. I went from sweating buckets on the climb to getting chilled at the summit in a matter of minutes. It was really awesome being on the rocky summit above the trees with s fantastic 360 degree view. At the top I crouched behind a small stone windbreak and called The Princess to thank her for all she had sent me. We only talked a few minutes then I took some photos and started hiking down. As soon as I got back into the trees I started to warm up so I took off the hat then stopped to switch back to my regular shirt.
The descent down the Beaver Brook Trail was really slow going and much harder than the climb to the summit.
Note: In the Whites the AT is coincident with other trails. Today I was on several different trails, including the Glencliff Trail, Beaver Brook Trail and Kinsman Ridge Trail, that are all part of the AT. It can be a little confusing for hikers and you have to pay close attention at trail intersections to make sure you stay on the AT.
When I finally made the descent down the Beaver Brook Trail I was at Kinsman Notch where New Hampshire Route 112 cuts through the mountains. I was surprised and really excited to find trail magic set up on both sides of the road. The first one I came to was courtesy of ‘Sit a While’ who completed the AT in 2012. He or she left six cases of sodas and a cooler full if a variety of Little Debbie’s snacks and even some cans of Alpo. There was a sign explaining that the dog food was for dogs only and thru-hikers should not eat it. That was not a problem because a Coke, a Mountain Dew and about eight Little Debbie’s was enough for me. I must have taken in 2000 calories in fifteen minutes! When I crossed the road I found two coolers left by the mother of ‘Sandman’ who is a current thru-hiker. She had left sodas and snacks including Rice Krispies Treats. I couldn’t eat anything after pigging out on the other side of the road so I just grabbed four Rice Krispies Treats to eat later. (It’s okay to do that.)
I still had over seven miles to go to get to my destination for the day, Eliza Brook Shelter, and most of that was climbing and descending Mount Wolf . I did not see a wolf but I saw lots of Moose droppings, so I stayed alert to make sure I didn’t run into a moose on the trail. I hear they are huge and can be pretty ornery.
I made it to the shelter a little before 4:00 and have been reading about Shakespeare on my Nook, cooking dinner and writing this post. Tomorrow I’m only hiking eight miles but I’m climbing both South and North Kinsman Mountain. Then I’m going to get a ride in to the town of Lincoln where I will resupply, get a good meal or two, and spend the night. After tomorrow the next few days will be longer and tougher with some really good climbs, so I need to be well supplied and well rested for that stretch.
Here are some photos from today.