June 19, 2018
Destination: Hexacuba Shelter Today's Miles: 17.70
Start Location: Moose Mountain Shelter Trip Miles: 1777.40
Today I got what I am now calling The New Hampshire Package: weather changes, trail magic, wildlife and views! The rain had stopped this morning and reduced to fog, but a gusty wind moved in and pushed out the fog.
I got off to a later start, just because everything was damp and my tent was pretty wet. My clothes were still wet as well, but everything would dry today in the nicer weather.
I hiked down from Moose Mountain and hit a road crossing with trail magic! A note on a cooler said "Brian and Jill" - the dynamic duo had struck again!! I pulled a poweraid out of the cooler and drank it, grateful for the electrolytes. Those two are pretty amazing!
Later in the morning I stopped at Grafton Turnpike road crossing to dry my tent out in the sun and have a snack. I spread my tent out in a few concrete structures that were there, then sat down to eat a cliff bar. I heard something moving around, and all of a sudden a bear comes walking out of the woods, about 15 feet from me, and about 6 feet from my open bag where my food bag is on top. The bear stared at me! I was shocked and wanted a picture, but this was a dicey situation. Any time a bear comes up that close it means it isn’t really afraid, which is not good. I picked up my one trekking pole (the other was over by the bear with my tent footprint on it). And stood up and started making noise - not too aggressive but definitely “go away” noise. The bear looked at me and then skillfully walked down the embankment and across the stream below. Before I could recover, ANOTHER bear cane out of the woods right behind the other! I was in disbelief. This bear had some kind of collar on. Fortunately it just followed the first bear, crisis averted! Now that I and my food were safe, I did a little dance of joy. My AT bear experience just got completely rounded out!! I had only seen the one bear running away in New Jersey. The New Hampshire bears wanted to have a tea party with me!
Powered by excitement, I hiked up Smarts Mountain, stopping to enjoy lovely views on Lambert’s Ridge. I climbed up the fire tower at the top and got amazing views in all directions, including what I think was a view of Moosilaukee. There was a guy up in the fire tower who was out hiking for the day and he offered me a few of his snacks, which was super nice.
I trotted off and almost ran into a huge porcupine in the middle of the trail! It turned its back to me and put its quills up, so I backed up and waited. Eventually it shuffled along. It had the biggest rack of quills out of the porcupines I have seen yet! On my way north I also saw a few garter snakes.
The hiking was challenging today. I arrived at the shelter starving and ready to eat. The climbs are getting steeper, but the views are getting better! I was so grateful for the weather, the magic, and the animal sightings/encounters today, not to mention the views and the kindness of strangers. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!