Eliza Brook Shelter [mile 1400.3; SOBO 381.9]
I think Maine may be reaching down through New Hampshire to try to drown me. There’s no other explanation.
It rained so hard last night—so relentlessly, a wind-driven downpour, all night—that I woke up at 2 AM when my hand slipped into the pool of water my air mattress was floating in. (I think ‘bathtub floor’ is an unfortunate name for a tent feature.) I had to sacrifice a buff to sop some of it up, but it was useless. I finally reached a point where all I could do was lie there in my moist down quilt with my fingers in my ears, staying as still as possible and begging it to STOP. It didn’t oblige. I turned off the alarm after a while. The day was going to start with a disaster, and that meant late anyway.
So, did the day start with a disaster? Well… no. Yes, everything in the tent was wet. But not as wet as it could have been, given that water was dripping and splashing in through the mesh walls nearly to the roof. Yes, I got an abominably late start (8:30), what with packing up the icy squelchy tent and icy squelchy everything else. The upshot was that I ended up having to take a short day just to make sure my sleep stuff was dry before tonight, because frost is coming. (Please, please, please no more rain!) So I’ll be in the Whites a day longer than I calculated. That’s the trsil for you; best laid plans, and all that.
Good news: When I opened the bear box this morning, it was full of nothing but food bags! All different colors, like one of those rooms full of plastic balls that kids play in. That made me happy.
More good news: Kinsman: Stick a fork in it! I’ve got one more major mountain (Moosilauke), then the Whites are history.
Kinsman was hard. People warned me if would be, so I was nervous, and they were right. On a warmer day I might have enjoyed fhe jungle gym stuff—great boulder faces to slide down, cracks of boulder to inch through (always down, sometimes nearly vertically), slabs of boulder to negotiate on footholds the size of a teaspoon. But today was wet. It rained so hard last night that the trail was a river—a slippery, slippery river. Twice, my controlled sliding board technique turned uncontrolled and I slid two or three feet farther than I’d intended. No problem, though; I always aim myself in the direction that looks safest in the event of just that kind of slippage.
It stayed cold all day. I hate cold. Even though the sky eventually sprouted some blue amid the clouds, it was miserable walking and climbing and sliding. And the last mile, after the rockier bits, turned out to be just as technical because the trail had flooded. All that rain last night: flood! The bog bridges were under water. I suspect that the beautiful Eliza Brook, which the trail flanked for that last mile, is usually a scenic little stream. This afternoon it was a collection of mini Niagaras, loud and flexing their muscles.
And here I am. Five hours to go four miles. But I spread everything in the sun to dry, and the caretaker said it’s supposed to be clear tonight. Clear, and cold! I’m wearing almost everything I own, and at 3:30 I’m already freezing. Not sure where to go from here. I’m definitely going to want my down pants and my winter air mat in my next shoe drop, and I wish I had them now.
Good news: No eight bucks to pay here, and no tent platforms! Just regular old dirt pads, which should be warmer (no frigid air gusting underneath and blowing up through the cracks).
Reunions: Blood Orange! He looked great. 🙂 I’m in some sort of NOBO bubble now. Today alone I must have seen 20 NOBOs. This must be the last of them, though, or getting close to it. After that, this trail’s going to get strange and lonely.
Tomorrow: Not sure. Probably a reasonably short day (for the Whites) to the next shelter. A good chunk of the ascent to Moosilauke is included in there, and it looks nasty: 2000 feet elevation gain in 1.5 miles. That’s practically vertical in spots, I’m guessing. I hope the day’s a dry one! I wish it could be warm, too! But maybe the climbing will fuel my furnace.
Oh, gosh. Guess what I almost forgot? 1400 miles! That’s a lot of shoe leather!