June 22, 2018
Destination: Garfield Ridge Shelter Today's Miles: 19.10
Start Location: Eliza Brook Shelter Trip Miles: 1828.10
***i had to go back and edit this entry, though luckily I hadn’t posted it yet. Long story short, a hiker friend Choo Choo went missing and the police were looking for him, but I heard later that he has been found and is safe. Anyway, I had written about it and I was definitely feeling bummed on this day and kind of sick about it. I thought something really awful had happened to him. So glad it did not!!! I will now resume regular programming...***
I woke up early at Eliza Brook Shelter, the place still to myself. There was a nip in the air and I donned my jacket while I packed up camp and ate.
The hike out was gorgeous, with numerous cascades and waterfalls running right alongside the trail. The weather today was supposed to be amazing, and so I was excited to hike. This early morning waterfall treat kicked things off nicely.
Today I quickly realized that Moosilauke was just a warmup. My first climb of the day was up Mt. Kinsman, and that was a much more difficult ascent. Some of it was just hand over hand bouldering. All of it was very steep. It was a good taste of the Whites! I think the climb up Kinsman really helped to set my expectations properly on the terrain I could expect. At the summit I talked with a couple of peak baggers, there for the day and because Kinsman is one of New Hampshire’s 4000 footers. The cairn at the summit had a funny, throne-like indentation, so they took a picture of me sitting in it. Unlike yesterday on Moosilauke, the views today were breathtaking. This would basically be the theme for the rest of the day.
After Kinsman I stopped in at my first hut, Lonesome Lake Hut. I had a message to deliver from one of the section hikers to a staff member there, and wanted to see what the huts were like. I was also hoping for some free food! The hut was big and pretty fancy for being called a hut! It was set just above gorgeous Lonesome Lake, which was a classically beautiful mountain pond. I went in and gave the note to a crew member. They were really cool and gave me breakfast leftovers - eggs, oatmeal and a piece of bread and cake. I sat with them and talked with them while I ate. They were all quite young - college age.
After this I climbed down to Franconia Notch and then up again working my way to Franconia Ridge. The hiking through all of this was very rugged, with steep drops and steep climbs the whole way. I fully understood now why people say the Whites are tough. I was absolutely loving it! I liked the views, but I also liked the athletic challenge of it. I had a kind of “hiker’s high” for much of the day. The scenery and views were so good that it felt like my head was going to explode. On my way to Franconia Ridge I passed a 0.3 mile side trail to the Mt. Liberty summit. Despite the rough terrain and extra miles, I didn’t want to pass this up, so I went to see it. The summit had incredible 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains. It was like standing on top of the world!
After Liberty I hiked back to the AT and continued the climb up to Franconia Ridge. The ridge itself was amazing and definitely a highlight of my AT experience so far! It is almost overwhelming it is so gorgeous, and I could see all around, 360 degrees, because the ridge is completely exposed and above tree line. As I walked along the ridge, I came first to the summit of Little Haystack Mountain, then to Mt. Lincoln (my first Presidential), and then finally up to Mt. LaFayette, the tallest on the ridge. I had absolutely perfect weather! Some of you reading this might think I was crazy to pack so much into one day, but I’m so glad I did because weather seems to be very volatile up here.
I spent a lot of time up on the ridge, just taking it all in. I did the same at Kinsman and Liberty. I knew in those moments that these would be at the top of the list of my most cherished views from the trail. I had decided to go to Garfield Ridge Shelter, but I still had to descend Lafayette and then climb up and over Mt. Garfield. It was a beast of course, but I did it! I got to the shelter at around 7:30pm and was exhausted. It was a great feeling though - I actually think it was my best day hiking on the trail so far. I had a great day of views, felt good physically and mentally about my hike, and just felt at peace. I saw some other thru hikers at the shelter, ate my food and passed out! In one day I had summited the following:
I was grateful today for this journey I’m on, and for the wonderful and beautiful natural world we live in. I was grateful to have the ability and opportunity to hike to these summits and enjoy the views. It was a phenomenal day on the trail!