I woke up several times throughout the night as storms crossed overhead – but we were protected. It was a weird thing – we were sleeping on a natural rock slab next to Whitehouse Brook, but being protected from the rain by a man-made rock slab in the form of I-93. I finally woke at 6:00am and started packing up. It was still raining hard. I like sleeping under overpasses.
I put on my raincoat and readied myself to leave by 7:00am. Today was an exciting day – the elevation profile looked severe. We were about to hike Medicine Man’s favorite hike – the Franconia Ridge. I hoped the storm would blow over so we could have some views.
The trail up into these mountains, the Presidentials, was brutal. We gained 3,500 feet of elevation in about three miles. Thankfully, the storm had blown over and we were awarded with a few views as we ascended. We hit Little Haystack Mountain just before noon – Little Haystack marked the start of our above-treeline AT hiking. The views were amazing – the clouds and howling wind made me feel like I was on another planet.
We took a quick break at Mt. Lincoln, eyeing Mt. Lafayette in the distance.
Up here, the terrain wasn’t bad at all – we could have moved very quickly if we wanted to, but the whole experience of walking that ridge was too amazing to rush.
Greyhound agreed – this was undoubtedly the most beautiful part of the trail so far.
We descended Mt. Lafayette, eventually re-emerging above treeline as we climbed Mt. Garfield. Greyhound and I paused and rested at Garfield for a while – the views were amazing.
It was 5:00pm by the time we left – we had hiked ten miles on the day in ten hours.
We talked about how we severely overestimated our daily mileage totals. We thought we’d be cruising sixteen miles a day, no problem. The reality was that, with full packs, sixteen miles in the Whites nearly crushed us. We decided to stealth camp in the valley ahead. We stopped at the Garfield Ridge Shelter to collect enough water to get us through the night. We finally found a spot at 8:00pm and made camp quickly before the sun went down.
We cooked dinner and tried to plan out our next few days, taking into account we had no idea how far Black Santa was behind us.
After a difficult ascent of South Twin Mountain the AT gradually descends to what looked to be a flat spot. We decided to shoot for Crawford Notch, some fifteen miles ahead. As I drifted off to sleep it started raining.