We woke up early and started packing our food for the day – we were only carrying a handful of snacks and leftover chicken for lunch as we’d be returning to Medicine Man’s camp later in the afternoon. I still packed away and carried my tent – I hadn’t done anything close to slackpacking over the last 1,800 miles and I didn’t want to start now.
We arrived at the trailhead at 8:45 and Black Santa, Greyhound and I started hiking north. We hiked up and over Mount Mist by 10:00am – as we were relaxing on the viewless summit we ran across a hiker wearing a hand-made dress/kilt and carrying only an axe. He was friendly enough. Still on the summit, we heard the distinctive sound of a tree being chopped about five minutes after he passed. We couldn’t figure him out until we started descending Mist – he was performing trail maintenance, using his axe to clear deadfall from the trail.
We crossed NH 25 at 1:00pm and started powering up Mt Moosilauke. The three of us instantly separated, Greyhound wanted to see how fast she could summit, I wanted to hike at my usual steady pace and Black Santa felt very content slowly taking up the rear. The hike up was very difficult – the trail was full of precarious boulders and near-vertical climbs. I soon lost sight of both of my hiking buddies and tackling the mountain alone, eventually breaking tree line and getting a view of the summit at 4:00pm.
I officially summited at 4:20pm, joining a waiting Greyhound. She had been up there for nearly an hour – she completed her summit in two hours, sixteen minutes – very impressive! It was windy and pretty chilly at 5,000 feet – Black Santa summited thirty minutes after me. The three of us took a break behind a rock wall and ate snacks before leaving to meet Medicine Man at 5:00pm.
Descending Mt. Moosilauke was very challenging. We hiked alongside a waterfall for a substantial part of the descent.
As we descended into Kinsman Notch, we lost 2,200 feel in just over a mile and a half. We climbed down steep stairs imbedded into the mountainside.
We were also afforded some beautiful views.
We reached Kinsman Notch at 6:45 and found Medicine Man waiting in the parking lot – and he had snacks and cold drinks! We piled into his car and first drove to the private campsite to get showers. Black Santa and I had adjacent showers and started making up a song about our exploits on the AT. Towards the end of the song (and of the heat in our showers), we were belting out lyrics. We finished cleaning and exited the men’s room to find a grinning Greyhound. She told me she, and everyone who passed the showers, heard me singing loudly. Oh well…
We left the campsite at 8:00pm and headed to Medicine Man’s camp. Tonight, his father and younger brother were joining us – complete with a steak dinner. We arrived and quickly set up our tents – Medicine Man hopped on the grill and the delicious smell of steaks were soon wafting through camp. Black Santa, Greyhound and I were soon gorging ourselves on tender, juicy steak and enjoying the company of Medicine Man’s family.
We went to bed earlier than the night prior. I was full and content. But I wanted to get an early start tomorrow. I still had to organize my food bag and the Whites loomed large in the distance. Tomorrow morning, we would say goodbye to Medicine Man and hike north experiencing the most challenging week of hiking we’d ever face on the AT.