Day 131 – Monday, July 18: Stealth Camp (Gale River Trail) to Stealth Camp (Crawford Notch), 15.3 miles, 1,843.7 total AT miles.

I woke at 6:30am and slowly started packing up. I often find Greyhound waiting on me while I shuffle around, trying to cram everything back into my pack. I swear, she can be ready to go in like 20 minutes – I’m an hour, minimum. We finally got to hiking by 7:30 and began our ascent of South Twin.

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But before we could get to the summit, there was something Greyhound wanted to do first – she wanted to stop at Galehead Hut.

Galehead is one of the many beautifully-constructed, fully-staffed, “primitive” bunkhouses scattered throughout the Whites. And they fill up quickly – section hikers pay nearly $100 a night for a home-cooked meal and a clean bunk. Thru-hikers are offered the option of performing a “work-for-stay” – you’ll hang out while the paying customers eat, clean up after them, gorge yourself on leftovers, then sleep on the floor.

We reached the hut at 8:00am and walked inside. The main dining area was bustling with section hikers getting ready to hike to the next hut. We quickly discovered that the hut sold coffee and pastries in the corner – thankfully, we had cash as it’s all based on the honor system. We hung out for a little while and enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate. We were nearly about to leave, when up strolls Black Santa.

He camped a few miles behind us last night after not feeling well for the past few days – he said he felt a lot better today. I could tell he was in high spirits. The three of us left Galehead at 9:00am. Black Santa forgot his trekking poles and had to turn around.

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We passed quite a few section hikers on our way up South Twin, finally summiting at 10:15am.

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Greyhound was flying today – she stayed ahead of Black Santa and me for most of the morning. We all eventually caught up at Mt. Guyot. From here, we faced a rocky descent to the Zealand Falls Hut four miles away. As we hiked, we speculated on the trail ahead. If it were indeed flat, we could get to Crawford Notch by 6:00pm or so. If the trail were to be rocky and rooty, as it’s prone to, we’d be stealth camping somewhere near Ethan Pond.

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Thankfully the trail was some of the best we’ve seen in a while. We passed Ethan Pond at 4:00, making it to Crawford Notch at 6:00. We reached the road crossing for US 302 and quickly scouted potential campsites in the woods across the street. After consulting the AT Guide, we found out there was a campground market just a few miles down the road. Black Santa and another hiker stayed behind and made camp – Greyhound and I quickly caught a hitch to the campstore.

We bought sandwiches, snacks and drinks for ourselves and Black Santa. We both washed up in the bathrooms before attempting to hitch back to the AT. As we were packing up, we were approached by a really nice dad who insisted on giving us a ride back to the trail before the storm hit.

Storm? I briefly looked at the radar in the campstore and didn’t see anything. We were dropped back at the trailhead and quickly made our way down the trail towards Black Santa’s campsite.

He was nice enough to set up our tents for us seeing as how we were getting him dinner. And a good thing to – Greyhound and I had been in camp for less than two minutes when the storm hit. It went from a few drops to buckets in a few seconds. I laid in my tent, thankful I was dry.

Greyhound used my extra vestibule as a kitchen again – and again, no tent fire. I cooked as well and quickly ate my campstore purchases. After dinner, Greyhound and I worked on our trail journals – I was still taking notes in my AT Guide. I didn’t write long – I quickly fell asleep to the sound of raindrops hitting my tent.

Author: Chris Kummer

Hey y'all - Cool Dad here. Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to thru-hike the AT. It remained a nagging thought for nearly a decade - then it got loud enough to warrant my attention. So I quit my unfulfilling job(s) in Seattle and commenced hiking north from Springer in the spring of 2016. And I'm exceedingly thankful I did. The people I met, the things I saw, the gross foods I ate - not a day goes by without fondly remembering life on the trail. If you've already thru-hiked a long trail, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're thinking about tackling a long-distance hike, do it. Do it now. I'm probably gonna do it again...

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