Monday, August 26, 2013

8/25: Stealth site, 1813.0

There's really no other way to say it: New Hampshire is my new favorite state of the whole trail, and I'm less than a 100 miles into it with all the best stuff left to go! That's just how amazing the past couple of days have been. The weather has been spectacular and the views simply brilliant. This is one absolutely gorgeous state. Anyways, let me tell y'all a story, ok? The problem is that I've got so much I want to share, it's hard sometimes to decide what to include and what to omit. And let me just say this: these mountains are tough. I mean real tough. I'm going straight up these things and straight back down too. This is definitely the hardest stuff any of us have seen yet, and word is it only gets harder from here. We're climbing a 1,000 feet a mile, sometimes steeper, for 3 or 4 thousand feet. It's tough work, no doubt about that, but man if it isn't worth it when you get to the top! It sounds so cliché to say that too because I've been hearing that phrase for weeks and weeks. Every time I would pass a southbound thru hiker I'd ask about New Hampshire and Maine, and every single one of them would almost verbatim say the same thing: "Dude," they would say, as they raised their eyebrows and gave me a smirk, "they're tough...but they're worth it." The key to climbing these monsters is to not look at the elevation profile and to climb the mountain with the mindset that the mountain will never end. That way, when you reach a false summit and round the corner just to see another 1,000 feet you have to [rock]climb, you aren't so disappointed (read heartbroken). And we're borderline rock climbing this stuff too. I put my trekking pole away for the climb today; it became more of a hindrance than anything on this type of terrain. Oh yeah I was suppose to be telling a story wasn't I? Let's get to that!

So the usual gang and I come off Mt. Moosilauke, which is our first official White Mountain, and head in to Lincoln, NH. We need to resupply at the grocery store, but we really want to go into Lincoln so that we can stay at a very famous thru-hiker hostel called Chet's Place. Chet is a really awesome guy with a really sad story. Back maybe 10 years ago, Chet was involved in a horrible campstove accident. An avid hiker, his single burner canister stove, much like the type of stove nearly every thru hiker uses on trail today, blew up while he was using it and burned 45% of his body. As if this weren't bad enough, during the explosion Chet inhaled some of the flame, completely burning his lungs. The injuries Chet suffered that day should have killed him, and he spent the majority of the next year in a drug induced coma. But Chet pulled through, and the local newspaper named him the "miracle man". His injured lungs now prevent him from walking very far so he gets around mostly by wheelchair. Chet always had a dream of thruhiking the Appalachian Trail. Sadly that dream can never be fulfilled. However, since Chet cannot hike the AT, he decided to bring the AT to him by opening up a donation based hiker hostel right out of his house in Lincoln. The hostel has become a hiker haven and is a must stop for any doing the trail. Thru-hikers only though. Sorry, Chet's rules, not mine :).

While we are at the hostel we caught wind of an awesome swimming hole called Franconia Falls that locals frequent a few miles away from the AT. After a little deliberating with the group, we spontaneously decide to take a zero day and go check this place out. You've probably picked up on this, but I love spontaneous plans! And what an amazing plan this one turned out to be! Nearly all the thru hikers at the hostel decide to enjoy the gorgeous weather by coming along too! We went to the grocery store and got a ton of picnic food including an entire rotisserie chicken and massive loaves of bread and set out on our adventure. Franconia Falls was picturesque and included wade pools, cliff jumps, and even natural rock slides! We had a ball sliding and jumping in the water, and then going to relax and picnic on the warm, sunbaked rocks. One of the rock slides had an awesome 6 foot drop off at the end, so it shot you straight into the air and down into a deep pool below. We took tons of pictures and videos of everyone sliding and cliff jumping too, and I'm proud to say that everyone in my group jumped off the cliff (even though Sriracha's cliff jump video is well over 5 minutes of her standing on the edge screaming funny!).

As you can tell, I'm having the time of my life out here. This truly is the adventure of a lifetime. Hope everyone is doing well back home!


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