Glencliff, New Hampshire
This is crazy. I’m in the Hikers Welcome hostel, mostly as a nod to tradition and because I feel like finishing the Whites merits a punctuation point. There are a ton of hikers here, including NOBOs, SOBOs, flippers, and section hikers. And a bunch if them are downstairs playing—get this!—Lord of the Rings Risk. Risk! Only with LOTR! Where the hell was that when I was in high school? Granted, I wouldn’t have found any playmates, but where was it anyway?
So here we go. First of all, today is my six-month trailiversary. Six months ago, on March 7, my naive little feet hit ice-cold Springer Mountain, with three inches of fresh snow.
What an unbelievable journey.
I was always vaguely assuming a six-month finish, which means today I would have summitted Katahdin. Instead, thanks to my learning curve and the weather and the physical issues (knee and feet) that I thought would be easier to overcome, I celebrated in a different, but still awesome, way: I summitted Moosilauke and finished the Whites.
The White Mountains! Stick a fork in them!
The day went thusly: It was a cold morning, but not nearly as cold as the last couple of nights. I stowed the fleece before I left camp (yay!). The trail, surprisingly, was generally easy: lots of flat, with uphills that were rocky but not gymnasticslly so. Blue sky, clear blue sky—the clearest morning I’ve had in the Whites. No fog. No rain. Perfect.
And Mt. Moosilauke was amazing. That may have been one of my top three mountains. Some mountains just feel magical—as though some presence resides there, deep and slow and aware. You know how in Lord of the Rings there are trees that gradually become Entish? Moosilauke felt like a mountain that knew I was up there.
I could see forever. That vista, mountain on mountain on mountain.
(You ever notice that cairns look like Daleks?)
The wind! The wind was so fierce that it grabbed my pack and blew me off my feet several times. It was too cold to linger up there. So I retreated back below treeline (for the last time?).
The trail down into Glencliff was rocky but not steep, then it morphed into easy walking more akin to a public park than a backcountry trail. And at the bottom, something I thought I’d never see again on this hike: summer.
Yes, summer! I went to sleep in winter and I crossed down into summer, and it was magnificent! I love the pine forests upstairs, but being down in the deciduous trees (looking slightly ragged around the edges, for sure), among green fields, in the hot sun—now that was a trailiversary gift.
I decided on the way down to stay here at the hostel. As hostels go, it’s in the middle: comfortably hiker dumpy-grubby, but with a freezer full of microwaveable pizza. And WIFI.
I’ll be out as early as I can manage tomorrow. Tomorrow. The start of a whole different kind of hike.