15.4 miles, 1886 overall (White Mountain Hostel, Gorham, NH)
In the morning Wiffle is intent on getting out quickly. I am told he has two speeds: regular speed and town day speed. Town day speed is much faster due to the availability of fast food in towns. He isn’t interested in waiting around for breakfast and leaves by 7. I opt to stick around for the free food despite not needing it. The hike into town shouldn’t be too hard and I’m not rushing. I sit in a corner reading some literature about the huts while the guests eat. The guests invite me to join but I politely decline, understanding that the crew still needs to eat before I can have whatever is left. By 8:00 the guests are done and I check with the crew to see if they need anything else done. They don’t, but they give me the leftovers to finish. They turn out to be just the right amount for me and I wonder if had Wiffle stayed if we would be splitting them.
On the way out I start up the climb to Carter Dome. It is the last long climb of the Whites although today I will have several other shorter climbs. At the top I run into a couple with a dog. They are hiking south but did a flip-flop. They started in Georgia in mid-April and, in early July when it started getting hot in Virginia, they flipped up to Katahdin and are hiking south to Daleville where they will complete their thru-hike. The view at the top isn’t so great but I know from the literature I was reading this morning that in another mile I will have a great 360 degree view from the top of Mt Hight, believed to be the best view of the Presidential range.
As I hike up to Mt Hight I can see why it has such a great view. It is another treeless summit, covered in granite bedrock. At the top I look back and see Mt Washington surrounded with fog, a common sight. I can also see what looks like some storm clouds starting to form over me. The chance of rain today is small but I’ve come to distrust the weather reports in the Whites. I hope I can get down to Gorham before the skies open up.
The rest of the day is up and down. I have a steep descent to Zeta Pass before a climb up to Middle and North Carter mountains. On the way to North Carter I run into Blues who is taking a break on the side of the trail. He and Pepper and Hawk camped at Zeta last night and when they went over Mt Hight it was foggy so he missed the view. The spot he has chosen has another great view back to the Presidentials. He informs me they haven’t been hiking long and that Wiffle has already passed them.
Onward I march to Mt Moriah whose peak is just below 4000 feet. I get a little worried on this summit that I’m following the wrong trail but soon I see a white blaze. It seems that the blazing of the trail is already improving as we leave the Whites. I take a look back at the storm clouds and it looks like they’re following me but I can’t be sure. On the way down the other side I catch up to Pepper and Hawk who are obviously having a good time since I hear them laughing several minutes before I catch up to them. Just as I catch them the rain begins as a sprinkle. I refuse for a minute to put on my pack cover, but eventually the rain intensifies and I put on both my pack cover and my poncho. Peeper has told me that when hiking behind me my poncho makes me look like Darth Vader and as I put it on she hums the Imperial Death March.
Thankfully the rain doesn’t last long, only about 10 minutes, and it never becomes a downpour. The trail flattens out and becomes a gently sloping downhill to town. We pass a shelter where some southbounders have stopped, completing 2 miles out of town for the day. I pause for a minute to check the shelter register and sign it, then move on to the road crossing where we find Wiffle waiting.
I have a reservation at the White Mountains Lodge and Hostel so I walk down the street to it, leaving the others who will be staying somewhere else in town. The hostel is similar to the Green Mountain House in that it is a large house that has been converted to a hostel. I meet Gerri, one of the owners, and she immediately gets me started on a shower and laundry. On the way in I see a face I recognize from another blog and when I hear her talking about coming off Mt Washington because of a stomach bug I know it is Beau and Mackenzie (or Joiner and Progress, respectively)! I am so excited that I almost yell “Its Beau and Mackenzie!”, surely scaring them with my stalker-like excitement. After I finish my shower I apologize for my stalker-ness and we catch up a bit on what they’re up to, how our hikes are going, etc.
Around 6:00 there is a shuttle to town and I take it to get my resupply done at Walmart. On the way I ask Gerri about dinner options and she says I can pick something up at Walmart to cook at the house. I take this to mean that we have kitchen privileges and I decide to cook the heavy pasta/pesto that I got from the weekend hikers the other day. I pick up some chicken at Walmart with the other supplies I need and we head back.
I immediately start working on my dinner and pretty soon I have a nice pasta dish ready to eat. As I’m taking it into the other room to chow down Greg, the other owner, lets me know that I’ve broken a rule because hikers don’t have kitchen privileges. I’m confused and after a minute I realize I must have misunderstood Gerri. There are toaster ovens and such for cooking simple things like pizzas and that must be what she meant I could use. Greg is cool about it but for the rest of the night I feel weird and it leaves me with a bad taste for what otherwise was a great hostel experience.
While I eat I catch up with the other hikers at the hostel including T, Gorp, the Noodleheads, and Progress. I’m not able to finish all of my pasta so Gorp helps me eat it. Between the two of us we are able to make it disappear. By the time I’m done it is bedtime and I head upstairs to a comfy bed with linens to fall asleep having completed the White Mountains on the Appalachian Trail.