Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Whites

Yay! We have just finished traversing the dreaded White Mountains of New Hampshire. We have been fearing these climbs since Georgia where every experienced hiker likes to say "You think that was bad, just wait til you get to the Whites." Well, the Whites have come and gone, we are still alive, but boy are our knees feeling it! (Fortunately our hotel here in Gorham, NH has a jacuzzi and an ice machine). Overall, the Whites were amazing and I'll just plop a bunch of pictures on here to prove it. Tremendous views, impossible climbs and even more impossible downhills caused our mileage to decrease significantly and we took our time to enjoy and cope with the severe elevation gain and loss. We're happy to be 1,878 miles into our journey leaving us only 297.9 miles to Katahdin. To see that number hit the "2"s is really incredible.

I want to say a word about the hut system in the Whites since it was a totally different method of shelter/food/camping for us. Huts were built as a refuge from the extreme weather throughout the White Mountains and they replace the normal shelters and campsites you find on the rest of the AT. It costs $90 for a night for a non-thru-hiker to stay at a hut and we saw large families day hiking over Labor Day weekend from hut to hut. Yes, that means a family of four is paying for a hot meal and a wooden bunk bed with cooties - no hot shower, flushing toilet, continental breakfast, deerskin rug, roaring fireplace or Swedish massage. Upwards of $360 for one night. You tell me. Lucky for us hiker trash, we have the option of doing a work-for-stay at most huts. In exchange for an hour or so of work we get to eat the leftovers and sleep on the dining room tables. As with everything on the trail, every hiker has a different experience, and we have heard some hut horror stories of hikers getting turned away late at night or scrubbing the gunk off the bottom of the dining tables for a tiny bowl of rice in exchange (sound a bit like the caste system?) but Brahma and I have a good report of the huts nonetheless. We ended up getting our fill of soup and bread for lunch at a hut almost every day and a few nights we timed a work-for-stay and got to get out of the weather. Ok, on to the pics. They may be out of order but I'm seriously rushing at this pay-per-minute library. And since I got literally yelled at by the Library Nazi in Dalton, MA I'm still a little touchy...

Nightly planning with maps in our cozy tent.

Brahma, me, Hoot and Sundance climbing Mount Washington. Mt. Washington is socked in with fog and clouds 55% of the time but our day was crisp, clear and craaaaaaazy windy. We were really really fortunate for beautiful weather throughout this scenic part of the trail.

On top of Mount Lafayette.

Hoot on Lafayatte.

Looking at the Franconian Ridge.

Dustan going up above treeline for the first mountain of the Whites, Mt. Moosilauke. This was our worst day of weather.

Looking at a mountain from our first hut pitstop, Lonesome Lake Hut.

I made it! To the top of some mountain, don't even know which one.

Lakes of the Clouds Hut. Gorgeous sunset, sunrise and all-the-time.

Up on the summit of Mt. Washington with Hoot, Sundance, Gonzo and Rub-a-Dub.

We're cold. And Brahma's been growing hair in all directions.

Do you spot this bad boy? Our first and only moose (so far) was a large bull with antlers like massive plates, crunching a maple tree and looking at us like So what?

We'll be in Maine in 16.5 miles and I hear the connection to the outside world in rustic Maine becomes pretty scarce, so I'm not expecting to be able to update that much. From what all the southbound thru-hikers tell us, Maine is the sublime part of hiking the trail. It's not uncommon for many Mainers to place their hand over their heart when talking about their home state. So bring it. I want crystal lakes on mountaintops, another moose, but this time raising his majestic head, grass hanging from his velvet antlers, as he wades in a pond. I want eagles at sunset and forest sprites jumping out of waterfalls, and most of all, I want a clear day on Katahdin.

Ok, just got my first warning from the library lady - that's my cue. Love to all!


Wanted to add: I'm back to the library once more for the day. Many of you have called and asked for a post office to send a last piece of mail or care package to. I will post this at a later time when we have the last section of the trail more planned. From what we understand Maine is the most rural of all states, hard to get hitches in and out of town because there's not much traffic, the towns are small, etc. But we will definitely be stopping a few times to resupply, so I'll call sis and have her post a Maine address asap.

Also - I got new shoes today! They are so beautiful I dread messing them up in muddy Maine. Our guidebook describes Maine as being "281 miles of lakes, bogs, loons, moose, hand-over-hand climbs and a 100 mile wilderness that is neither 100 miles nor truly a wilderness. It is the most mystical, magical place on the AT and a great way to either end or begin a hike." For the AT Companion to wax all poetic with words like "mystical" and "magical" is pretty significant since it's just a dry guidebook. So yeah, we're pumped. Just so you know, the 100-mile wilderness is another one of those sections you hear about as soon as you start the trail. It's a stretch through the backcountry of Maine where resupply is scarce so you're forced to pack many days of food, and the end of the section dumps you out right at the bottom of the Big K. Woohoo!


Anonymous said...

Those are awesome pics Bets, I am so jealous of those mountains. I wish I could see them from where you two saw them (minus the 2000+ miles of hiking haha). Once again Dustan, that is some great hair on your head there, I still believe you should keep it for awhile. I get excited when I read your blog. I think all of us need an adventure like what you two are taking, not the AT necessarily, but something just as… impossible and grandeur. I think your stories of this trip over the years will be what ignites that spark in people to take their own journey. Well done! Just 200 something miles left, you got that! I hope you get to see your Eagles, Meese, mirror lakes, and remote sunsets/rises. We are rooting you on and looking forward to seeing you soon. Stay safe and enjoy your remaining miles.
~Love Eli

Anonymous said...

I tell you both, I love every week when I come to my favorite section on my labtop and look up walking to maine, it is so awesome to keep up with your adventure... First of all the beautiful mountains wow is all i have to say about that and also Dustan your hair dude I love it, keep it for awhile i agree ith Eli haha..
After reading about your adventure we have found a new sport for first baptist damascus, we have been caving a lot here lately and dustan and cracked my tailbone on my second adventure it was quiet funny, i tell you more about it later.
but guys i love you all and I am praying for you all. 297 that is it, how crazy is that...... ALMOST DONE BABY
be safe and i love you all

Amy said...

DUSTAN! your hair!!!
These pictures are so awesome. Maine sounds gorgeous and I'm so happy you guys have made it through the wilderness (I just got a flashback of Madonna's "like a virgin" video) safe and sound. I'm officially a Philadelphian now and you guys have to come visit me after you recover from your adventures. Congrats on all that you've hiked so far... you're almost there! yaaaay!!!

Toni Jill said...

I have chills upon my chills guys! The pictures are absolutely gorgeous and I cannot believe you are almost done! I cannot wait to see your smiling (and trimmed I hope) faces in VA very very soon! Keep pressing on and know that we are still here in TN praying for you daily! From one CN eagle - get a good picture for me! Love to you both, Toni Jill

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how close you all are to the finish! It's really incredible and I share your journey with everyone every time I get the chance. You'll have so much to share...Bets, Zac says you'll write a book about this. I've said this before but we REALLY can't wait to see you all and have you home. We're beside ourselves with pride! Godspeed for the final steps of your journey. All our love, Zac and Martha

Monica Flores said...

amazing. you two are amazing and this adventure of yours is SO inspiring. somewhere or another, in the course of getting a new laptop, i misplaced the link to you blog and am so glad to have found it again.

i love the beard and all of the photos. i hope you enjoy maine thoroughly.

bless you both!