Friday, November 28, 2014

The last of The Whites

So finally Mother Nature cooperated and we were able to head back up Mt Lafayette, head across Franconia Ridge and finish up the last of the Whites.

Friday 31 Oct 2014 - Mt. Lafayette
We went trick-or-treating up Mt. Lafayette today.  We originally had to come down Lafayette via the Greenleaf and Old Bridle Trail on 18 Oct due to back weather.  We had been able to knock out some of the AT in the time between the 18th and the 31st but Mother Nature did not give us the chance to get back up Lafayette and finish the ridge until Halloween.

This is the sign that greets you as you begin your trek up to Lafayette.  A lot of reckless hikers have gotten themselves into life threatening situations and have had to be rescued because they were stupid.  We were able to answer yes to all of the above questions and continued onward and upward.

Three miles up the trail we came to Greenleaf Hut, where we had spent the night when we initially had to come down off Lafayette.  The hut was not closed for the season and they were airlifting out the supplies and equipment.

We made it!!!!  Finally Hendo and Hendo's Mom at the summitt of Mt. Lafayette.  The white stuff is Rime Ice.

Hendo on the summit of Mt Lafayette with SPC Cassavant's Memorial Stone

Hendo's Mom on the summit of Mt. Lafayette with MSgt Love's Memorial Stone

After summiting Mt. Lafayette we continued south along the AT and Franconia Ridge to Mt. Lincoln.  The trail was rather moderate and enjoyable. 
Hendo on the summit of Mt. Lincoln with SPC Cassavant's Memorial Stone.

Hendo's Mom on the summit of Mt. Lincoln with MSgt Love's Memorial Stone.

With the Franconia Ridge complete we began our decent down Liberty Springs trail to the Liberty Springs Campsite.  Liberty Springs Trail was a rather steep decent.

Hendo taking a momentary break while scooting down one of the many slabs down Liberty Springs Trail.

We spent the night at Liberty Springs campsite and then continued on down to Franconia Notch in the morning, Sat 1 Nov 2014.  On our way down Saturday morning we met this wonderful day hiker who was headed down from Mt. Liberty and graciously offered us a ride up to Lafayette Campground.  In our waiting for a break in the weather, we had previously completed the AT section from Franconia Notch to Lonesome Lake hut.  So we caught the ride to Lafayette Campground and took the 1.2 mile Lonesome Lake Hut trail up to the hut where we would continue on south over Kinsman and Moosilauke to finish the Whites.

Upon walking in the Lonesome Lake Hut Saturday evening, we were greeted by a very friendly face, Forty-four, an AT section hiker who had started at Springer Mountain and got off at Marion, VA this year.  We met Forty-four down in Tennessee.  What a crazy juxtaposition of events.  Who would have ever thought we would run into Forty-four at a hut in the Whites.  Forty-four was at Lonesome Lake Hut with his men's church group for the weekend, they are from near Beverly, MA.  It was so great to see Forty-four and we got to each like royalty.  Each year the group gets away for a weekend at one of the three huts that are open year round and have an awesome time.  This year their menu was Italian and we gladly accepted their offer to join them for dinner and drinks.  It was wonderful to catch up and share our adventures with the rest of the group.  They asked me to get up and give a presentation on our hike and my raising awareness for Stop Soldier Suicide.  The men were very receptive and shocked by the veteran suicide statistics and surprised to learn of the number of veterans there were in their group.  It was an awesome evening.  Sunday 2 Nov we enjoyed breakfast with the guys and a brief devotional service and bid them farewell as they headed on home.  The weather was snowy with high winds, so we just zeroed at the hut.
Hendo's Mom, Forty-four and Hendo at Lonesome Lake Hut

Forty-four's church group

While at Lonesome Lake Hut we looked through the archived hut logs to see if Earl Shaffer or Granny Gatewood had signed in.  To our pleasant surprise Granny Gatewood had stopped by Lonesome Lake Hut and signed in during her second NOBO AT thur-hike in 1957.
Granny Gatewood's signature in the 1957 Lonesome Lake Hut Log.

Monday 3 November 2014 - The weather broke and we were out the door to conquer the Kinsmans.  The next to the last big challenge of the Whites.  There is lots of talk of how treacherous the climb up the north side of the Kinsmans is, but we didn't have any major problems.  There was lots of ice on the trail, but with our Kahtoola Micro-spikes on we trudged along with no major problems.  Hiking up the south side of the Kinsmans it was quite evident who the Appalachian Mountain Club is really worried about appeasing.  The trail from the parking lot up the north side of the Kinsmans to the South Kinsman and North Kinsman summits was a great hiking trail.  This is the trail which all of the day hikers use to get up and back down the mountains.  As soon as we crossed over the summit of South Kinsman and began hiking down the trail turned into a treacherous mess.  It is quite obvious that the AMC could care less about the trail that only we AT hikers utilize.  And this isn't the only location we have experienced this "Wrong side of the tracks/wrong side of the trail" phenomanon.  I am quite disappointed in the AMC and ATC, the presidents of both should be ashamed to have their associations names associated with this section of trail.  We spent Monday night at Eliza Brook Shelter.

Hendo with SPC Cassavant's Memorial Stone on South Kinsman

Hendo's Mom with MSgt Love's Memorial Stone on South Kinsman.

Even the bears are appalled with the trail conditions going down South Kinsman.  We followed bear tracks from the Summit of North Kinsman to the Summit of South Kinsman, but before heading down the crappy trail on South Kinsman, the bear was smart enough to turn off and bushwack cross country.
Bear Tracks headed up South Kinsman

Hendo's Mom headed down the supposed "trail" on the southside of South Kinsman

Tuesday 4 November 2014 - Today hiked from Eliza Brook Shelter to New Hampshire Highway 112, where we hitched a ride in North Woodstock and spent the night at Trail Angel Lois's house.  The trail started out pretty good until we passed Reel Brook Trail, which is the trail day and weekend hikers use to get to Eliza Brook Shelter.  After the Reel Brook Trail turn-off the trail again went to crap, because the AMC could care less about we AT hikers.  It was dark when we got to NH 112, but had a car drive by and stop within 10 minutes of arriving.  Unfortunately, the car was a county sheriff and he just stopped to say hello and left us standing there.  Luckily, 10 minutes later a gentleman stopped and graciously gave us a ride 6 miles into town.  Once in town we called Lois and she gladly offered to let us stay at her house.  We spent Tuesday night at Lois's and zeroed at her place on Wednesday 5 Nov 2014.  Thursday 6 November 2014, Lois dropped us off at the northern base of Mt. Moosilauke and we set out to complete the Whites.

Thursday 6 November 2014 - Today we polished off the Whites.  Like the Kinsmans we had heard horror stories of the hike up the north side of Moosilauke.  For us the hike was steep, but not overly treacherous or dangerous, we were pleasantly surprised.

Hendo's Mom and Hendo beginning our hike up Moosilauke, the lower section of the cascades as our backdrop.

The middle cascades heading up Moosilauke.

And the upper cascades.

Hendo trudging up Moosilauke.  It wasn's treacherous, but it was definitely steep.

Hendo's Mom enjoying the block stairs and re-bar railing.  Obviously catering to the day-hikers.  These could be used in so many other locations along the trail.

WHAT!?!?!?  Are those stairs/ladder...obviously a day-hiker amenity.

An amazing view of Franconia Ridge, the far left ridgeline, from inside Beaver Brook Shelter.

And we did it!!!!  The last of the Whites were slayed.  Hendo's Mom and Hendo at the summit of Mt. Moosilauke.

We spent Friday 7 November and Saturday 8 November zeroing and re-supplying at Lois's house in North Woodstock.  Saturday 8 November, Lois took us to run some errands and dropped us back off in Gorham, NH so we could begin our trek north into southern Maine to complete the section we had jumped over to come down and compelte the Whites.

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