Last night: If one could remove the tents and hammocks and just put the people and the 95pound dog in the position they all slept in, and I stood up, stretched my arms out and turned 360 degrees, I could touch 3 men and a big St Bernhard cross breed dog from my sleeping position. The woman in the tent and the woman in the hammock would be just out of my touch reach.
Given the crowdedness of our accommodation for the night we slept quite well. We got up well rested, had our breakfast bar, looked at each other hungrily (the days when we thought a Cliff bar is too big and dense to eat in one go long gone) and set off for what we expected to be another gruelling day in the Whites.
We started with a steep rocky downhill, the first kilometer took 37minutes to complete! After that it levelled out somehow, the next kilometer was done in 25minutes or so, then we had an ascend of around 800m which was reasonably challenging.
We went over (or very close to the top) of 3 4000 footers, but only 1 of them counts towards the 17 we are ticking off: 1 was a discriminated against one (profile not prominent enough) and the trail skirted the summit of another, the only one we get a credit for is South Twin.
After the climb we had probably 10km of walking terrain. It came as a big surprise. I have accepted that for the next 2 weeks everything would be climbing so ticking off 10km by just walking it was great for the legs and the morale. I am unsure whether it is our reward for the 3 tough days behind us, or in preparation for the three tough days to come (getting into position and then up and down Mnt Washington and the Presidential peaks) but it was welcome.
That is not the only blessing we had today. There was a high probability of showers all afternoon, starting at 2pm. The rain however held out untill 6pm, giving us time to arrive at our camp site, pitch our tent, cook supper and eat, and crawl into our sleeping bags all nice and dry. And only then the rain came (and its predicted to rain throughout the night and most likely best part of tomorrow).
How far we go tomorrow will depend on the weather – we would like to get ourselves in position to get to the top of Mnt Washington on Friday. Luckily the weather forecast for Friday is for a clear day).
While we were taking a break during the day there were 3 little birds (I now know they were Gray Jays which can become quite a pest as they have learnt people can be a source of food) fluttering around us. We couldnt believe how close they came but now understand they were looking for scraps of food.
The trail went by 2 huts today. I am so tired that I really dont remember if I explained the huts? They are dotted around the Whites, sometimes (but not always) on the AT, they are owned/run by the Appalachian Mountain Club and should not be confused with the AMC run shelters/campsites we stayed in last night and tonight. The huts are for paying guests (ah its coming back to me I did actually tell you about them?) costing $150 per person per night and all you get for that is a bunk bed, dinner and breakfast. These huts are primitive for a few reasons, they serve as a safe haven for those who want to come walk around the Whites without the desire or ability to backpack, they are not reachable by car so everything needs to be carried in, and there is no electricity.
The huts are not there to serve thru-hikers but there is one advantage. Hikers can buy coffee, soup and yesterdays baked goods (muffins and cakes etc baked for the paying guests, left over from the previous day, baked by amateurs staffing the huts in primitive conditions so wont win any contest). We walked by 2 huts today, at the one we had coffee and baked goods, we devoured it even though it was what any normal person would call a failed experiment in baking: it was edible, contained calories and was in addition to our meagre breakfast. At the second one we had soup, in addition to what was our carried lunch (do you remember the wonderful days of cheese and biscuits? we have now simplified life to protein bars.
We had a calorie boost today, and quite a few kilometers of easy walking. My body is thanking me and promising to return the favor by being strong tomorrow. I hope it holds its promise.