From Springer Mountain Georgia to Mt. Katahdin Maine

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

NH: Lincoln, Franconia Ridge/Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Garfield

After a quick stop at the outfitters, we picked up some snacks & beer at the grocery store before walking over to Chet's. Chet is the name of an incredible man who runs a hiker hostel. I don't know the story exactly, it is something along these lines: he was an avid hiker and was out camping and cooking on his camp stove. There was an accident with the fuel and it blew up and he was knocked unconscious and inhaled fumes and smoke. He was in a coma for a long time and recovered for the most part, but lost feeling in his legs. He's now in a wheelchair, but still very supportive of the hiking community and opens his home up to hikers. There is no charge - just donations, work-for-stay, or barter. He's a wonderful man - looks you in the eye when you speak to him and you feel like he's totally engaged in the conversation. 

While at that point, Gribley and I were traveling just the two of us (all our close friends were ahead or behind), we were in the middle of a huge hiking bubble. I called Chet to just make sure he had space for us, and he delighted me by giving me a pop quiz about the AT before agreeing to let us stay. "Where did you start?" "Well, today I started from Eliza Brook Shelter, but I started this trip on Springer Mountain, Georgia" "Wonderful, and where are you heading?" "Mt. Katahdin!" "You passed! I'd love to have you stay!" Haha he then gave us directions to the house. I felt fortunate that when we arrived, the place was pretty empty and we were able to offer a beer to Chet and share stories on the back porch, before the crowds arrived. A few more hikers showed up and we all took turns showering and then went to dinner with Lieutenant Dan. 

Henry Shires tents set up in the backyard

Bunk room & library

sleeping hiker

sign for Chet's

Chet's House

Sign in someone's yard on the way to Chet's

The next morning (8/17), we headed out for groceries and to the laundromat. I had my Patagonia down jacket the entire trip and didn't really know how to wash down at a laundromat so I had avoided that task thus far, but at that point, 1800 miles later, it was definitely time to wash it. Luckily, it was totally fine and smelled like new again! We walked back over to Chet's, packed up, and set out to hit the trail again. We stuck our thumbs out at a major intersection of Lincoln, hoping that someone in this touristy ski town would give us a ride back to the trail. Some guys working at a small outfitters across the street saw us and offered us a ride. They dropped us back at the random visitor center and we headed back to the trail, trying to figure out our plan. Liberty Springs campsite was a short 2.6 miles away, which seemed like an unimpressive day in terms of mileage, but a rainstorm was on the way and it was already 4pm. We began the steep hike up, determined to make it before the rain. We arrived just as the rains started and were greeted by a super sweet caretaker. Most of the campsites and shelters in the Whites have a fee, $8/person. The campsite was packed, I think the caretaker counted about 30 people already there, and so she put us down in a little secret spot that wasn't an official campsite, but it worked great. All the campsites in the Whites have wooden platforms built and I really didn't like setting up my tent on them, or sleeping on them. The platforms were all taken, so I was happy to sleep on the ground. The rain was consistent all night and we went to bed pretty early after eating dinner. 

I was super excited to get going in the morning - Franconia Ridge was on the itinerary for the day! Also, the caretaker informed us that Hungus & Pace were also at Liberty Springs, two of my favorite people that we hadn't seen in a few weeks. On a side note, according to Hungus, there are 4 major climbs in the Whites - Moosilauke (check), Franconia, Presidentials, and Wildcat. Lucky for us, we had already completed most of the climb up Franconia on our way up to Liberty Springs. When we set out in the morning, we climbed up Little Haystack Mountain and entered the Alpine zone. Leave No Trace ethics encourage hikers to hike and camp on durable surfaces in all situations, but in the Alpine Zone, this is especially important. 

Trail just before leaving tree-line 

View from Little Haystack Mountain

We continued hiking on up Mt. Lincoln and were gloriously reunited with Pace & Hungus. We also saw Gypsy Soul & Muck Fichigan. This day hiking was just absolutely beautiful. After our first two  days of hiking in the Whites were cloudy and overcast, we were bursting with joy at the stunning views all around. I took about a million pictures and its almost impossible to go through and edit and determine which are the best, but I've shared a few below: 

Muck Fichigan, Hungus, Pace, Gribley, Me 


We spent a long time up on Lincoln, just taking in the views and enjoying a leisurely lunch. Gypsy Soul made a big, hot soup for lunch and we laughed at the day hikers nibbling on their granola bars, looking longingly at her yummy lunch. That's the great thing about being a thru-hiker - you always have everything you need right on your back. Eventually we made our way down Lincoln, and then climbed back up to Mt. Garfield. There was a cool old structure there and we all took a break, just taking in the views. 

View from Garfield

We got going again and stopped at Garfield Shelter for water. Once we filled up, we hit the trail... except we couldn't find the trail. The path in front of us was the stream, but there were white blazes on the trees.. surely that wasn't the trail.. oh wait.. Yes, the AT was heading down a rocky path of flowing water. They really thought of every possible obstacle. So we looked each other, smiled and said here we go!

Gribley hiking down the trail/water source

Earlier that day, Hungus suggested that we camp up on Mt. Guyot. Gribley and I agreed that would be a cool place to camp, and made it our goal for the day. Coming down from Garfield, however, Pace had a few falls and decided she wanted to call it a night. Gribley and I were pretty wiped out as well, and the four of us found a little stealth spot at the intersection of a side trail. Hungus even found a teeny tiny dripping spring, and we were all able to fill up on water. It wasn't the most gorgeous campsite, but it was fun to be caught up with Pace & Hungus again, and we all shared our stories about the past few weeks. 

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