From Springer Mountain Georgia to Mt. Katahdin Maine

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Zealand Falls Hut, Thoreau Falls, Ethan Pond, and Webster Cliffs

Greeting readers! I apologize for my almost three month hiatus from this blog. I still have dreams of finishing, at least for my own sake. As I immerse myself deeper into "real life" the details of the trail become blurry memories of the past. I know if I don't take the time to document everything now, it will continue to slip away. That is not to say that I don't think about the trail every day, or that I wish I could start all over again in March.

Anyway, to pick back up where I left off:

From the glorious view, we hiked one more mile to Zealand Falls & Hut. Hungus & Pace were already there and had snagged work-for-stay spots, as had Warrior & Honest Abe before them. Gribley and I asked the girl in charge, and I could tell she wanted to tell us no, but somehow we convinced her to agree - on the condition that we would have to turn down other hikers, since she hated saying no. Haha that was fine! Lots of other hikers came by asking for work-for-stays, and we did feel bad, but I think everyone understood that there just wasn't more room. Gribley had the task of cleaning out all the dry food storage (which he said was pretty loosey-goosey in terms of hygiene..), Pace cleaned out the freezer, and Hungus organized the library. I had the morning task of sweeping after breakfast. I remember feeling totally exhausted, more than what seemed normal. I just wanted to nap but felt that it would be a bit inappropriate to roll out my sleeping bag and sleep on a porch where guests had paid about $80 to stay. I kind of snoozed sitting up and watched the sunset. 

Hanging out on Zealand Hut porch after everyone completed their tasks
(Gribley, Hungus, Pace, Honest Abe, Warrior)
Watching the sunset

After the guests' dinner (but before our dinner, which was their leftovers), we were invited to listen to a lecture on geology of the Whites. I learned a bit about frost actionglacial striation, and other geological quirks that happened in the Whites. The most memorable thing though, was that the speaker referred to the northern terminus of the AT as "KatARdin" instead of "KatAHdin." From that moment on, we lovingly referred to our goal as Katardin. In addition to that distraction, it didn't help that we were all STARVING. The guests got to eat around 6, the talk was from 7-8, so you can imagine how hungry we hikers were. We finally got to eat the still-warm leftovers: soup, stuffed pasta shells, bread, and green beans to our hearts content. And then they brought out a sheet of carrot cake and said, "bet y'all can't finish that" - oh boy, it was on! We all shoveled down seconds and thirds of this yummy cake. Warrior added some butter to hers, and then Gribley decided to put butter INSIDE his cake. 

Almost done! Delicious carrot cake

Gribley's culinary creative genius - butter INSIDE the cake

Unfortunately, my stomach was starting to feel a bit uneasy and I was convinced I had just overeaten, and was really ready to be horizontal and rest. Everyone but Warrior and me decided to sleep under the stars. Knowing how cold natured I am, and not feeling that great, I knew I'd sleep better inside on the floor of the warm dining room. I'd been warned of the mouse problem and sure enough, heard mouse traps popping all night. I slept well and the next morning, my stomach felt a little bit better but not quite 100%. Since I was inside, I had to be out early before the guests came into the dining room wanting coffee, and not wanting to see sleeping hikers. I quickly packed up and headed outside and walked over the falls. Hungus had decided to sleep on the rocks, and I saw Pace sweetly waking him up.

Pace waking Hungus up from his sleep spot by the falls

Zealand Falls

Gribley & Honest Abe were coaxed into being the Rise & Shine team to wake up the rest of the sleepy guests. Abe with his ukulele and Gribley with his voice. Look I have a video!

The dining room/my sleeping quarters (by the bookshelf)

After eating a light breakfast, I did my sweeping duty, and was ready to get hiking. Gribley stayed back to hang out by the Zealand Falls and said he would catch up soon. It was a pleasant morning - the weather was nice and the trail was easy (which was a nice change for the Whites!). Hungus and Pace had left before me and told me I didn't have a choice - I was to meet them at the Thoreau Falls, a short side trip away. I followed these instructions and met them over there, which was one of the most beautiful moments on the trail - pristine natural beauty with some of my favorite people. 

Gorgeous day for hiking!
Thoreau Falls
Thoreau Falls

Thoreau Falls
Thoreau Falls
We stripped down to our undies (which doubled at bathing suits when the occasion arose) and found a swimming hole big enough to dare each other to jump into. The water was freezing, the laughter was loud, the sun was bright, and the smiles were wide - it was a very happy morning. Gribley showed up and quickly realized this was a special occasion that called for mustache wax, so he and Towelly started waxing up and looking sharp.

Hungus & Pace enjoying the sun 
Grib & Towelley waxing their mustaches
We left the falls and headed to Ethan Pond for lunch. It was absolutely beautiful. 

Ethan Pond

Cheesewater returning from fishing with gummy worms
After Ethan Pond, we had about four more miles before the big climb up Webster. Hungus had told us that in the Whites, you have 4 major climbs - Moosilauke, Franconia, Webster, and then Wildcat. We hung out as long as possible and finally started up the beast of a mountain.

Love these people! Hungus, Pace, Cheesewater, Toweley, Gribley hanging out by the stream
Well, we made it to the top. It wasn't quite as bad as we thought it would be, but we stopped before the summit at Webster Cliffs. It wasn't listed in the book, but there was so much flat rock area for cowboy camping, and a few small flat campsites in the woods. It was a wonderful evening. Honest Abe & Warrior showed up, and later Dances with Flies surprised everyone - it had been weeks since I had seen him! My stomach was still feeling weird. I drank lots of tea hoping to calm it, but it kept feeling worse. The night was great though - Hungus had a small speaker for his iphone and we played some Sublime & Grateful Dead while watching the pinks and oranges of the sunset.

Most of the group was excited about cowboy camping, but I opted to set up my tent instead, just since I didn't feel well. Actually, I had the genius idea to set up Gribley's tent, so if it happened to start raining, he could just get inside (his tent is big enough to comfortably sleep two people). This proved to be a really brilliant idea, because in the middle of the night, it did start raining. Gribley got in the tent, Hungus slept under Pace's hammock & tarp, and everyone else was left scrambling to set up their tents in the pitch black dark & rain - never fun! 

Ok readers, that's it for now. Stay with me though, I do promise to finish this at some point!