Crossing into New Hampshire was exhilarating! Only two states remained, and a few days ahead lay one of the trail's most iconic places, the White Mountains.
Right at the border is the town of Hanover, home to Darmouth College. The trail literally walks through the town and by the campus. It happened to be moving day when I walked through the campus, and needless to say, it was incredibly busy. There's always a bit of shock when you've been in the woods for five days and you enter town. The speed, the rush, the noise, and the general busyness of everything can get a bit overwhelming.
Because of move in day, Hanover was on a completely different level. I got so distracted that I lost sight of the white blazes and found myself on the far end of an Ivy League school, looking like a miscreant. I knew Gitfiddle was in town, so I texted him to figure out where I needed to go. Turns out I went left at an intersection instead of right. Once I saw Gitfiddle and the familiar white blaze, relief rushed over me. I was where I belonged. It almost felt as if all the college kids were in my home as opposed to the other way around. Since it was raining, the two of us hit up several restaurants that are super hiker friendly, and I decided to spend the night in Hanover instead of hiking on.
The forecast for the days leading up to my approach to the Whites looked gloomy. Lots of rain, lots of fog. I wanted good weather on the White Mountains' many exposed peaks and ridges, at the very least Franconia Ridge and Mt. Washington. I decided to set a pace where I could get to Franconia Ridge on day three of the Whites (about a week out), even if that meant the first couple of days would be foggy.
The first few five out of Hanover can be summed up in four words: rain, fog, mud, and wind. Occasionally the sun would poke its head out of the clouds to remind me that it still existed, but those sightings were rare. On Mt. Cube, I got absolutely soaked. Feeling defeated and getting cold, I gave up on the day and put up my tent. Of course the icy cold rain and wind decided to stop five minutes afterward!
The next morning, I woke up early, put on my soggy clothes, and set out amidst a (surprise!) foggy morning. The wind was incredibly fierce, but it occasionally blew the clouds away just enough to see the sun greet the valley. It was cold but beautiful.
A few short miles later, I arrived at a trail legend: The Omelette Guy! I had heard about Omelette Guy since Pennsylvania, and like all trail rumors, took his existence with a grain of salt. Luckily, I was not disappointed! Omelette Guy has a tent set up right on the side of the trail where, you guessed it, he makes omelettes. (Well, they're more scrambled, but you have to admit, Omelette Guy is much catchier than Scrambled Guy.) He asks just one question. "How many?" He then proceeds to make a feast of cheese, peppers, onions, and the number of eggs you choose. I had five eggs. Apparently the record is 18!
Omelette Guy officially marks the beginning of the White Mountains. This was exciting in and of itself, but I was also excited that that night I would see a friend I hadn't hiked with since central Virginia. Lost & Found! Due to previous plans, she chose to flip-flop, leaving the trail at McAfee Knob and jumping up to Mt. Katahdin to finish her hike SOBO. We met up at a shelter at the base of Mt. Moosilauke for the night. It was great seeing my old hiking buddy again. Seeing trail friends always feels like a family reunion, and even though we hadn't seen each other in months, we quickly picked up where we left off. We got so caught up in chatting and catching up that we completely forgot to take any photos! (It wasn't until months later that we realized this.) The next morning was super weird when we left camp in separate directions.
The first challenge in the Whites for NOBOs is Mt. Moosilauke. It's descent is notoriously steep, and a waterfall running beside the trail also makes it a bit dangerous. To be honest, I was a bit daunted by the mountain, unsure of what to expect. But climbing the first big mountain in the Whites was exhilarating. Despite the thick fog and wind, the exposure on the summit felt incredible. The descent, however, did live up to its reputation. The rocks proved slippery and knee-jarringly steep.
Two hours and a mere two miles later, I finally reached Kinsman Notch where my cousin Tony and his girlfriend Jocelynn were waiting for me. They took me into town for lunch and a game of mini golf. Thanks guys!
The next day was a bit more of a challenge. I felt pretty confident about the Whites after Moosilauke, but the Kinsmans were another story. Instead of one mountain, I climbed two. Instead of 8 miles, I hiked 16. At one point, the trail passed through a small pond. Maybe it was a puddle at some point, but not anymore. Literally the only way through was to slide your feet across the bog boards shin deep in water, hoping you didn't slip off into waist deep water. Oh yea, It was rainy. Go figure.
The Kinsmans were difficult, but not without some reward. On one of the summits, the clouds cleared for a few seconds, teasing me with absolutely incredible views. I wanted to see more, but fog rolled back in, smothering the mountain like a blanket. What I saw, though, excited me. I yearned for a clear day to fully enjoy the views.
On the way down to Franconia Notch, I stopped into Lonesome Lake Hut with Rocky and Derby. I didn't know what to expect with the hut system in the Whites, and I was curious. We walked in and one of the croo (what hut workers are called) asked the three of us if we wanted pancakes. Um, are we thru-hiking?!? Yes! I think we ate about 15 pancakes each.
Bellies somewhat full, we headed out. The sky was actually starting to clear, and I could see Franconia Ridge rising massively above the land, summit still in the clouds. This would be my challenge tomorrow, and the forecast finally looked good. I couldn't wait.
I am a filmmaker. I am an adventurer. I believe in children. My friends are obsessed with my beard. I am obsessed with beer. I want to embrace and fully live this life I’m blessed with. I want to be known as someone who loves deeply.
On May 16, 2017 I set out on my dream, the adventure of a lifetime: a 2,189.8 mile trek of the Appalachian Trail. I want to push people to live their dreams and pursue their passions.