Monday, September 19, 2011

September 11

The gondola didn't start operating until 10 this morning so Snowy, Bear Bag, and I took our time getting ready and ate breakfast at McDonald's. We stuck our thumbs out and a woman and her daughter offered a ride to us from a parking lot across the street. We were on the gondola right at 10 for a mostly smooth (minus the wind) ride up, and got on the trail at 10:20. We finished climbing Wildcat (the trail crosses 4 of the 5 peaks) and then it was a steep downhill to Carter Notch, where we stopped at Carter Notch Hut for bathroom breaks and water. The hut workers had made a bunch of food and shared with us: nachos, chicken nuggets, peanut butter bars. We were there longer than anticipated, about a half hour, and got back on the trail a little before 1 to climb a steep Carter Dome. The day was sunny and perfect and we got some amazing views on the way up! Since today is September 11, volunteers planted flags on all 48 4000-footers in New Hampshire. We saw the one on Carter...quite a sight!
From the top, the terrain was supposed to be a bit easier for the rest of the day. We had lots of downhill though and my knees were killing me! On our way down to the side trail to Imp Shelter, the trail was rocky, tricky, and very technical...lots of slips and sliding and scooting down rock slabs...again very hard on my knees. We stopped for a break at the side trail and filled up on water. I had told myself that I wouldn't take ibuprofen until I "broke" my foot again, but I broke down and took two...sigh. And it really didn't even help my aching knees and feet. It was 5:30 when we left with almost 8 miles to go...very discouraging! We had one more climb for the day and got some amazing views of the beginnings of a sunset behind the mountains in the distance. Such a wonderful day! From there it was mostly downhill, so that meant more joint pounding. At about 7:30 we stopped and put our headlamps on, and I took the lead since I'm the slowest and we didn't want to get separated in the dark. About an hour later we heard rushing water and saw a tent set up along the trail. A woman said she was stopped dead in her tracks when she came to the river and didn't want to cross it in the dark, so she set up camp right there. Her attitude scared me a bit but we checked things out and the crossing was not difficult at all, although intense in the dark! We crossed Rattle River one more time, then came to Rattle River Shelter, and knew we were getting close...only 2 more miles! The trail was wonderful...flat, wide, and somewhat smooth. We were flying since we wanted to be done for the day, and we surprisingly got to the road only a little more than 30 minutes later, right at 9:30. So relieved to be done! The only problem was getting back to town...
None of us had ever hitchhiked in the dark and we weren't sure what to expect. The road wasn't busy but we had a plan: when a car came, I would stick my thumb out appearing to be a female in distress, and Snowy would high beam me with his light so the driver could see me clearly. Three or four cars passed in about 10 minutes and then one pulled over for us! The guy drove us the 3.6 miles into town and dropped us off at Burger King. With food in our bellies we walked to the hotel and started the shower train. I was so dirty today; my legs were just covered in mud. The shower was amazing and we're all exhausted; I was the last one and when I got out of the shower, Snowy and Bear Bag were both sound asleep! It's been a long 18-mile day and I am ready for sleep as well!
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1 comment:

  1. Night Hiking, scary people, sore knees and bad feet. It sounds like your body is telling you it about time to finish. The way I figure it you have 573,131 Footprints to go. Somehow that sounds harder than 250 miles.