Imp Campsite [mile 1324.7; SOBO 306.3]
Oh, the Whites, the Whites, the Whites. I forgot how beautiful you are, and how in love with you I am.
I’ve been here twice before, that I recall: once during a family vacation when I was about 16. We climbed Mt. Washington, then—in a car, of course, and I was terrified on the auto road. And the top of the mountain was frigid and dense with fog, so there wasn’t much to see beyond a few yards of boulders. But I loved the Whites and they haunted me until 1992, when I went back to camp. That was in Crawford Notch. There were so many stars in the sky that I thought I’d die of beauty.
(Note to self: Look at the stars every night. I’ve seen so many dawns, but no stars on this hike. I’m usually asleep by hiker midnight—ie, 9 PM.)
This morning I hit the trail late, at about 8:30, and walked to the Rattle River. I think I remember that river! It jogged such a strong sense of deja vu! It may be a similar river, somewhere else, that I visited—except that there are signs to the Mt. Washington auto road just a couple of miles down the trail, which makes me think that my 16-year-old self is the one who saw those stones and listened to that prancing water.
The morning was easy walking, then a steady uphill into elevation. I’m still driving a jalopy of a body so the climbing was slow, but as far as ups go, this one was easy. Some hints of Maine near the top, but drier. The bog bridging doesn’t have the same characteristic rottenness. The planks smell like WD-40, and I have no idea why.
The day was hot summer, and it felt magnificent. It was ear-popping good to be back at some higher elevations (still nowhere near as extreme as it’s going to get). And I never thought I’d say that.
I could have gone farther today, but I couldn’t think of a reason why. So here I am on a platform at Imp. First night for my Exped Air mat, my new socks, my new fleece. I feel like the gear is finally acceptable for New England.
There might be some rain tonight. I’m just happy to be here.
Oh! Reunions! Today I saw Steamer (the breast cancer guy dressed all in pink; he has pink hair now, too). I saw Kokopelli, who used to travel with Didi the wonder dog. Kokopelli’s the guy who hiked last year and made it to 60 miles from Katahdin before sustaining a severe knee injury that knocked him off the trail. (He had to send Didi home a while back.) I met both of those guys in Virginia.
Remember Little Sass? I met her at Aquone when she wasn’t hiking, then at Partnership Shelter after she started her thru. Saw her today! And I saw a hiker named Pretzel, who remembered me; I can’t place where we met.
A NOBO asked me if I thought it was a good idea for his non-hiking (but physically fit) wife and 12-year-old daughter to come summit Katahdin with him. I told him no, I didn’t think that was a great idea, and we talked about it a while.
Actually, I talked to a lot of people today! It was exceptionally social on the trail.
The Whites. It’s going to get so hard. But this may possibly be the most beautiful place on earth. At least to me, and to those me’s I used to be. 🙂
Tomorrow: The start of the hard stuff. I’m nervous! But I’m planning to take it slow and enjoy it while I can.