So I realize that it has been just about forever since my last post on here, but Kaitlin and I have accomplished a whole bunch since then, all important parts of our planning process for our thru-hike, things which will hopefully be important and helpful to those of you who may be AT hopefuls of the future!
30+ mile loop around the Pemigewasset Wilderness (7/18-20)
We started the day a little later than usual (around 10:30) from Lincoln Woods, hiked up to Mt Liberty and then ate lunch of Flume Mt. We then carried on across Franconia Ridge hitting Lincoln and Lafayette. We moved very quickly due to high winds, high milage, and diminishing water supply. The descent from Lafayette was a nightmare at that point in the day, our first section of our trek that is on the AT. The descent felt like forever, especially knowing that we still had to summit Garfield Mt before we could think about camp. Down, down, down and it was starting to get a little late (6:00ish). Along the way we passed a lone black Croc, which we decided to leave because the person to whom it belonged could have gone either way and been long gone by now (this will become relevant later).
At long last the trail finally began the ascent of Garfield and we summitted around 6:45. This mountain affords some of the most amazing views of the Pemigewasset Wilderness.
We were cold from the wind and the setting sun so we pushed on the camp at the Garfield Shelter and Campsite, the longest supposed 0.2 miles I have ever hiked. We crossed the campsite's spring where we met 2 kids around our age pumping water who reported that the campsite was pretty full and that we could have the last tent platform and that they would pitch their tent elsewhere. We thanked them and carried on, passed the shelter where some hikers were cooking their dinners in silence, and then were greeted by a very friendly couple with whom we thought we'd be sharing the last tent platform. They were so excited to meet Ella (Kaitlin's adorable dog) and were happy to have her share the platform with us. They then informed us that it was meant to rain in the early A.M. OOPS! We didn't have a tent with us and assumed we would be able to sleep in the shelter (which looked full) if we couldnt sleep out on a platform under the stars.
The caretaker told us to try to the shelter so we walked over and were greeted with mostly silence and asked if there was room for 2 more. "we can make room". Great, we definitely aren't welcome. "And the dog will sleep outside?" "Uhhh, yea I guess". Uh oh, and they don't like dogs either. We started making dinner without putting anything into the shelter as it did not yet feel like home to us. The two women hikers asked us where we came from so we told them of our 14 mile day and they were quite impressed with our "young legs". We continued to talk to them and told them our plans to thru-hike during the next season. It was then to our surprise that we were sharing the shelter with 3 thru-hikers: Rockamimi, Gram Cracker, and Hobbit. They shared so much advice to us about gear, the actual hiking, food, planning, EVERYTHING. To return the favor and to show them that Trail Magic does happen up north, we covered their expense for the shelter and went to bed.
In the morning we said our good-byes and set out for Galehead Hut for our morning snack. We passed Gram Cracker and Rockamimi en route who were also headed for the hut. When we arrived at the hut, some nasty weather was rolling over the mountains and towards the hut. Gram Cracker and Rockamimi made it in right before the rain started coming down in buckets. We continued our chatting with them as three kids came barreling in the from heavy rains. It was the 2 kids from the stream and another girl with them....The Traveling Circus consisting of Monkey, Ringleader, and Lightning. We had no idea that the two kids from the night before were also thru-hikers! Further, the lone Croc we had seen earlier in the day belonged to Monkey, a loss which ruined his day. SORRY MONKEY! We all sat and talked and ate and waited out the storm. The Traveling Circus left and we chatted with Gram Cracker and Rockamimi a bit more who has decided to take the rest of the day and stay the hut. We reluctantly said our good-byes to our new trail friends and set out towards Guyot Shelter. We spent the night at Guyot and carried up to Mt Bond around 8:30 AM, where we saw some amazingly magical morning scenery with the clouds rolling over the mountains and the sun still rising.
After snapping plenty of pictures and drinking in the amazingness, we headed over Boncliff which was covered in fresh blueberries EVERYWHERE. We ate as we walked, taking more great pictures and then made our final descent, an 8 mile one, back to our car feeling more inspired than ever for our upcoming adventure with thanks to the thru-hikers we had met on this magical weekend trip.