I got a text late last night and started immediately chatting with Medicine Man as soon as the sun rose. He heard through the grapevine that I was getting close to some property his family owned just outside of Warren, NH. He texted and wanted to pick us up at a road crossing some nineteen miles ahead.
I was excited! I missed hiking with Medicine Man – he really added a lot to my hike. The problem was that I had no way of getting in touch with Black Santa – he was ten miles or so ahead of me. Medicine Man would have to intercept him at a road crossing then wait for us. Greyhound and I left Lambert Ridge before 7:00am – our first early start since we started hiking together.
We faced a difficult ascent up Smarts Mountain – our first climb over 3,000 feet since entering New Hampshire. We were afforded awesome views of the summit as we hiked up – we got a chance to see exactly what we were about to hike up and over. The trail was tough – we used hand-over-hand climbing up rebar steps set into the rock race. The weather was brisk, but cooled off, and eventually started sprinkling once we hit the summit of Smarts.
I was, once again, persuaded by Greyhound to climb the fire tower. This one was a little terrifying. We read a trail journal and learned that Black Santa had slept here last night. It was only 8:45am and Greyhound and I had already hiked three miles – Black Santa couldn’t be too far ahead. On the way down Smarts Mountain, I was able to get a text message off to Medicine Man. I told him Greyhound and I were shooting for Lake Tarleton Rd by 4:00pm – and that he probably needed to be there early to intercept Black Santa.
Greyhound and I started hiking as fast as we could. We summited Mount Cube just after noon – that was another difficult climb on the day. I can already tell I’m hiking on a different breed of mountain. We stopped at a stream to have a snack at 1:30pm – we were only slightly behind our 4:00pm arrival goal.
We started hiking with a renewed vigor – thankfully, the trail cooperated. It was nearing 5:00pm when Greyhound and I finally made it to the road crossing I was expecting to find Medicine Man at. A lone car was parked by the side of the road. I approached the car and saw Black Santa’s pack locked in the back seat. Hell yes!! I called out into the woods – Medicine Man and Black Santa called back. They were hanging out just across the road on the north side of the trail.
Greyhound and I walked down and were instantly greeted by Summer – she’s still not leaving Medicine Man’s side. Apparently, Summer was the one who intercepted Black Santa – he already passed the road crossing and was heading north about an hour prior. Medicine Man parked his car and Summer took off running up trail – Black Santa recognized her and turned around. What are the odds?
We hung out for a few minutes before deciding to pack up and head to the Super Walmart to purchase our resupply as we were about to enter the Whites. We all bought way too much food – I bought more snacks than I could cram into my 7-liter stuff sack. Greyhound and I also decided to split a rotisserie chicken for dinner.
We headed back to Medicine Man’s camp and had arrived by 7:00pm. Black Santa, Greyhound and I set up our tents in the grass surrounding his family’s camper. They had a really nice setup – everything a hiker needed to enjoy a night off-trail. We sat in lawn chairs around a giant fire pit while eating chicken sandwiches. We had a great time.
Medicine Man offered to pick us again tomorrow – that way would could tackle our first big summit of the Whites without fifteen to twenty pounds of food. Mt. Moosilauke lay ahead – we’re going to gain 4,000 feet of elevation and summit the rocky bald to clear skies tomorrow afternoon. Medicine Man wanted to take us to a campground that would allow us to shower as soon as we descended tomorrow evening.
We went to bed with full stomachs and in good spirits. It was great seeing Medicine Man – and I’m glad we were able to get a great resupply after the poor options in Hanover. We decided to wake early and tackle Moosilauke hard and fast.
* * *
The burn on my ankle has healed.
I’m apprehensive about starting the Whites tomorrow – the elevation profile is pretty imposing.