Day 134 – Thursday, July 21: Stealth Camp (Pinkham Notch) to Stealth Camp (Middle Carter Mountain), 10.5 miles, 1,880.3 total AT miles.

I woke up and decided to eat my leftover chicken before even getting out of my sleeping bag. I was still delicious. I slowly started packing up, calling out to Black Santa to see if he was up. I stuck my head out of my tent – he was nearly ready to go. Apparently, there was an all you can eat breakfast buffet back at the Pinkham Notch Visitor’s Center.

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Greyhound and I were soon up, packed and ready to eat as well. I left my tent up and we threw our packs in it so we wouldn’t have to bring them to breakfast. We walked the short distance back down the AT and entered the visitor’s center. I quickly bought my ticket for breakfast and grabbed a tray of food. I ended up going back for seconds. And thirds. I ate bacon, sausage, pancakes, muffins, fruit, baked beans. More bacon and sausage.

The three of us left an hour later completely stuffed. We shuffled back to our campsite grab our packs. Black Santa was ready to go (sort of), Greyhound and I were in serious food comas. I decided I needed a short nap before pressing on – Greyhound thought it was a good idea as well. Just as I was about to nod off, I heard a familiar voice talking to Black Santa outside. I stuck my head out of my tent.

It was Monster! I hopped up and ran over to him, I hadn’t seen him in a long time – honestly, I thought I never would again. We chatted for a while. He had been taking time off from the trail in bits and pieces, but was now ready to begin the final push to Maine and beyond. After saying goodbye, Monster took off northbound with Black Santa on his heels.

It was 9:00am and I finally settled down to take that after breakfast nap. I woke up at 10:30am and called out to Greyhound. She was awake, I think. I exited my tent and finished packing up. By 11:00am, Greyhound and I were back on track. We caught a nice view of Mount Washington as we climbed north out of Pinkham Notch.

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The trail up Wildcat Mountain was extremely steep and rocky – it took us nearly two hours to summit and make it to the ski gondola. The subsequent ridgewalk stayed rocky – it looked like today was already shaping up to be a one mile per hour kind of day.

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Black Santa stayed ahead all day. At 4:30, Greyhound and I stopped in at the Carter Notch Hut and drank three glasses of lemonade each before heading outside to take a break. I hung out at the pond and enjoyed the surrounding views.

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The weather was beautiful – a far cry from the 30-degree temps we suffered a few days ago on Mount Washington.

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We crossed Carter Dome and Mount Hight at 7:00pm, just as the sun was starting to set. It was beautiful outside. We hiked on finally finding a nice stealth spot on the top of Middle Carter Mountain at dark. While we both wanted to hike further and catch up with Balck Santa at the Imp Campsite three miles ahead, we had plenty of water for dinner and clear skies ahead.

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It was windy outside so I used our packs and stuff sacks to build a wind break. We unrolled our sleeping bags in a natural depression and cooked dinner. Greyhound fell asleep quickly and I watched the night’s sky. I can’t remember the last time I saw the Milky Way that vividly. I eventually fell asleep late.

Tonight, we decided to head into Gorham, NH and stay at a hostel right near the trailhead – Black Santa’s planning on meeting us there.

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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