Eddie O'LearyComment

Days 123-124

Eddie O'LearyComment
Days 123-124

After reaching Pinkham Notch, I needed a break. I had only hiked 7 miles that day, but the previous day left me exhausted. I decided to stay there for the night. As it happened, Gin Gin, who I met at Madison Springs Hut the night before, opted to stay as well. The visitor center has a basement that's open 24/7 to hikers, a perfect place to hang out. We spent the afternoon and evening going about our various chores: resupply, blog/video updates, planning for the next few days, etc. Sleepy Head and Target showed up later in the afternoon. They were staying at the lodge, which also included dinner. Since they are very nice hikers, they hooked Gin Gin and me up! The four of us spent quite a lot of time in the visitor center chatting and doing crosswords.

Eventually, Sleepyhead and Target went to their lodge while Gin Gin and I headed out to a stealth site nearby. While I was setting up my tent, I heard a snap. That couldn't be good. Turns out one of my tent poles broke! Knowing I couldn't do anything until the morning, I figured out how to get it set up and went to bed, already anticipating with delight the coffee I would drink at the visitor center the next morning.

The next morning I woke up, packed up my tent, and headed back to the visitor center for some coffee and breakfast. I also needed to call my tent company, Sierra Designs, to see if they could send me a new set of poles. They didn't open until 10 so I killed time by drinking even more coffee. At promptly 10:00, I called Sierra Designs. They gladly replaced my poles and overnighted them for free! Tent pole misadventures fixed, I was ready to hit the trail. Gin Gin was still at the visitor center, so we hiked out together

Our challenge for the day: Wildcat Mountain. Wildcat Mountain has a reputation for being one of the steepest, if not the steepest sections on the entire AT. I can assure you, it most definitely is. At times, we were literally rock climbing 15-20 feet straight up! Despite the insane climb, both of us had so much fun utilizing our rock climbing skills, albeit with 25-30 pounds on our backs. It was a nice change of pace to walking.

The top of Wildcat Mountain is a ski slope. I noticed that there were no cars on the lift yet and the ladder to the tower was easily accessible. Not finished with climbing yet, I scaled the 25 foot ladder. Perched atop the platform of the chair lift tower, I commanded impressive views of Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range. A perfect place for a snack break!

Wildcat Mountain defeated, ahead lay Carter Notch, a 1,300 foot descent in about 1 mile followed by a climb of 1,300 feet in about 1 mile. In other words, STEEP! In between the two mountains lay Carter Notch Hut. Needing water and a break for our knees, Gin Gin and I stopped into the hut. The hut worker there offered us some snacks and which of course we readily devoured. We ended up breaking at the hut for probably too long. Now night would fall upon us before we could get to a good camp spot. But I noticed one place on the map that we could get to just after dark: Mt. Hight. 

Our goal set, we set out to climb out of the notch with a torturous amount of water. Water is always the heaviest thing any hiker will carry. When you go from completely empty to max capacity, it can easily add 12-15 pounds to your pack. Climbing out of Carter Notch was laborious and slow. We definitely wouldn't get to the stealth site before dark. In retrospect, I'm sure glad we didn't.

We crested the peak just as the sun was beginning to set over Mt. Washington. Bold reds, dazzling purples, and bright oranges filled the sky. Wispy clouds hugged tightly the lesser peaks, caressing the tops of the trees and mysteriously vanishing into nothingness, much in the same way they appeared. We stood mesmerized by the beauty.

The cold eventually drove us to continue hiking. We had about a mile left until the stealth site and we needed to get our body heat up. Thirty minutes later, we reached Mt. Hight. Just below tree line lay space for our tents amongst the pines. But first, we had to see the stars. We emerged above the tree line to one of the most spectacular night skies I have ever witnessed.

The sky was super clear above despite the haze and fog settling in the valleys. My eyes turned upward, and I couldn't help but think of the closing chapters of this unbelievable journey. What distant lands lay in the distance? What mysterious hand guides the forces of our destinies? We find ourselves on a strange frontier, tadpoles about to launch ourselves or be launched into some alien world, where all seems entirely frightening but all possibilities lay within our grasp. Only 300 miles to Katahdin.



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.