Day #59-So close we can taste it; Miles hiked: 15.0

Today was the last official day in the Whites and I’m pretty ready to move on. A cold front brought not only more rain, but a dense fog over the mountains today. No views over the Carter Moriah range today…

When I got down to the road into Gorham, my day got quite a bit more exciting as I was able to reconnect with Ms. Janet, Half Slow, and some other hikers I haven’t seen in awhile. A parking lot party!One of the local trail angels was also able to whisk me into Gorham to deal with my broken trekking pole. A new one is on its way to Andover!

Heading out of Gorham, I passed an odd landmark-a dam!Notice all of the water that has been falling on hikers recently.

Tonight I’m at a campsite with NOBOs, SOBOs, and a bunch of doctors who I’ve enjoyed interacting with. For those interested in where the heck I sleep, check out my tarp pitch for the night…rain, you can’t get me!Tomorrow, we’ll be in Maine-so close!!

Day #58-Wet and wild; Miles hiked: 13.1

Wow, this terrain keeps making things interesting! The trail has no switchbacks and the rain keeps things slippery. I got a late start today because I had to spend some time dealing with life outside of hiking (transcripts, housing deposits, etc.), but really wanted to catch up to the girl gang that I met a few days ago. So up and over the Wildcats I went!

The Wildcats are a range of mountains with 4-5 really steep peaks to climb up and over, but they also provide great views of Mt. Washington! Too bad it didn’t look like this a few days ago…

As the miles crept by, I ran into some challenges…namely two pretty bloody falls. One was a face plant onto a wooden bog bridge that tore up my legs and arms, and the second was a slide down a rocky ledge that snapped my trekking pole in half. No worries, all bones still intact!

Check out this view of the last AMC hut–this is after a mere .4 miles of climbing away from it.Sunset was beautiful, but I did end up hiking into the campsite in the dark. Glad to have caught up with my friends!

Day #57-Town never felt so good; Miles hiked: 4.8

After sleeping in and thanking God we weren’t in the path of the tree that fell beside our campsite last night (the wind was wicked), it was time to go into Gorham.

After an easy walk into Pinkham Notch, we started refueling with soup and homemade bread at the AMC-run visitors center.After dropping our packs off, it was off to an establishment I’ve been looking forward to since Harpers Ferry: Chinese Dynasty Buffet. For $7.25, we cleared 4 heaping plates each.This afternoon was a relaxing one spent outside reorganizing our packs and planning for Maine. Can’t believe the flip of the flip flop is almost over!

We sadly had to say goodbye to Esther, but got a commemorative photo of the trail family from the last few days. Thanks to Andre for picking her up!

Day #56-Worst weather in the world lives up to expectations; Miles hiked:10.3

It took everything in my being to get out the door of Lakes this morning with the wind and rain blowing across the ridge. After a short climb, I came face to face with the famous “worst weather in the world” on Mt. Washington. Today was a relatively calm day and the wind was gusting at 54 mph and the windchill had to be in the 30s. Don’t worry, I ducked into the visitors center and put on some rain pants immediately after this picture.The weather didn’t improve much as we marched down the ridge bracing ourselves against the wind and trying to move fast enough to stay warm. However, we did get a few peaks of clearness as we got close to Madison Hut.We tried to get a work for stay to get out of the weather, but the crew had no mercy. On we went further down the ridge. However, 15 minutes into our hike the weather actually cleared and we got a great sunset! Town day tomorrow!

Day #55-Climbing into the clouds; Miles hiked: 13.9

We slept at around 1000 ft last night and climbed up to over 5000 today. What a day!

The climb from Crawford Notch up to the beginning of the Presidential Range was particularly exciting as we scaled 7 rocky ledges using hands and feet equally. Amazing views though!The reward after the climb was another bowl of soup and some leftover breakfast. Mizpah Hut, the location of the treats, has a special place in my heart because it was shelter in a huge storm in 2014. Happy to be back!After lunch, we began our 15 mile traverse across the Presidential Range-all above tree line.The weather held on just long enough for us to make it up to Lake of the Clouds Hut where we were able to secure a work for stay–chores in exchange for leftovers and a space on the floor. Because of bad weather, the hut was gracious enough to take in 20 other thruhikers in addition to its 90 guests. Good thing hikers like to hang out with each other, because space was certainly limited!

Day #54-Hut hopping and somehow dry; Miles hiked: 14.5

Because the terrain in the Whites is so challenging and thus takes quite awhile to conquer, we started our hike before 6 am this morning with a beautiful sunrise. By 8 am, we arrived at Galehead Hut just in time to snag some leftover coffee cake from breakfast.The Appalachian Mountain Club operates 8 mountain huts accessible only by foot. Because the crew has to pack out any leftovers, they are generally happy to farm off the extras to thruhikers.

Up next was an endless climb up South Twin Mtn with a great view at the top:One really neat aspect of the Whites is being able to pick out the peaks we have crossed and will cross. Amazing what you can see when you’re above the trees!After stopping by Zealand Falls Hut for some lunch and warm soup, it was time to crank out 5 more miles to Ethan Pond. We really hoped to see a moose here, but no such luck today.Perhaps the most amazing part of today was how dry we stayed! There was a 90% chance of thunderstorms all day and they didn’t hit until we were safely in the shelter. My two fears on the trail are lightning and norovirus, and the Lord has been teaching me a lot about trusting Him with those silly concerns. He has been showing me the power of storms from the safety of shelters!

Day #53-White Mountain wandering; Miles hiked: 10.2

This morning, Hard Hat, my friend Esther (now known as Rudolf), and I set off for the next section of the Whites. But first, we paid a visit to the local Dunkin Donuts.I did warn Esther when she asked to join me this week that she was embarking on arguably the hardest 50 miles of the entire AT. She was up for the challenge, and I am always glad to have some company on my hike.

The first climb of the day was a healthy 3000 ft climb up to Franconia Ridge, a beautiful ridge line all above the trees. At the peak of Mt. Lafayette, the highest mountain on the ridge, I officially reached the 800 mile mark. It’s crazy to think I’m getting pretty close to 1000 miles of ministry!

Later in the day, we came over Mt. Garfield and found a great view of Franconia that we had just walked across.The end of the day did not come without some added excitement when Esther took a pretty good fall. However, she insisted on moving on even with a pretty good gash. What a brave chick!

Day #52-And then there were tacos; Miles hiked: 17.8

For the Whites, today was a huge day. But I needed to make it to Lincoln to meet one of my dearest friends, Esther. So off Hard Hat and I went at the break of dawn.

Before 7 am, I had already descended 2000 ft in 1.5 miles down a cascading waterfall. Treachery in the morning? Bring it on!After running into Ms. Janet and Half Slow in the parking lot at the bottom of the waterfall, it was off for 16 more miles of slow-going White Mtn terrain. For the second day in a row, I stepped knee deep in a bog before 9 am. It’s becoming a tradition.

After a crazy steep climb up and over the two Kinsman’s, I can safely say I’ve checked off my 4th 4K peak in New England.The final attraction of the day when my body was already quite weary was Lonesome Lake Hut where I almost crashed. However, there were both friends and tacos waiting in Lincoln, so off I went down the mountain once more. That ridge in the background is where we’re headed tomorrow–gonna be a blast!

Finally, enjoy this picture of the tree line on Moosilauke provided by Hard Hat.

Day #51-Moosing around on Moosilauke; Miles hiked: 8.0

Today was the official beginning of my journey through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Yesterday’s rain was still hanging on, so I spent the morning lingering at Hikers Welcome while it finished raining.Around lunchtime, Hard Hat and I started up the first climb of the Whites-a healthy 3800 ft climb in about 3 miles. While the rain had mainly stopped, it was still pretty cloudy. Amazingly, right as we summited, it cleared off for a few minutes and we got good views! These two pictures were taken about 1 minute apart to show how quickly things change up here:This is my obligatory summit picture:After hanging out for a little bit (it was cold!), we ventured on down to a shelter and called it a night early with a great view of the peaks to come.

Day #50-Mountains and downpours and hostels, oh my!; Miles hiked: 19.9

Today was the second big day in our march towards the Whites and good weather. For the first time on my whole hike, I got to walk all day with another hiker-my friend Hard Hat. It was actually super nice to have company through 20 soggy miles.

Before the rain started, we got a few views of Smarts Mtn from atop Mt Cube.It was also lunch time so we decided to eat on the summit. When it started raining during lunch, I didn’t want soggy bagels and I also didn’t want to keep walking. With that, up went my tarp and Hard Hat and I escaped the rain and continued our eating. No pictures from the rest of the day because of bad phone weather, but I can tell you it was 13 miles of constant rain and some mountains. Tonight I’m back at an AT classic-Hikers Welcome Hostel. For those of you who have hiked before, they built a new bunk house and have sheets now! What an amazing upgrade!