4-7: Jeffers Brook, The Notch, Garfield Shelter

4: Hexacuba to Jeffers Brook

Did you know that the sun rises at 5am? It does. And by 6:30, Bent and I were on the trail. I prefer to wait for anyone else there to leave first, so that I can make sure I don’t forget anything in the shelter. So we waited for Running Bear and Trail Dog to leave, then headed out.

The climb up to Mt Cube wasn’t all that bad. My ribs are no longer sore from my gasps for breath, so I feel like maybe I’m getting better at hiking.

There was so much to look at up there. We even saw Smarts Mountain, only 6.9 miles away. It’s incredible, seeing these mountains that look so huge and empty, and knowing that you’ve only recently walked all over them.

Just like little ants.

After Mt Cube things got real boring. There was a lot of boring woods, a boring mountain that didn’t even count as a mountain, and a lot of mosquitoes.

We saw some appallingly large blazes, forded a river (no oxen died), then started the very long climb up Mt Moosilauke. Fortunately we only had to go one mile tonight, because it had started raining and we were ready to get dry.

There’s nothing better than putting on warm, dry clothes after a sweaty hike.

We don’t have all our plans made yet. We have no idea how or when we’re going to Lincoln to resupply, but I guess we’ll figure it out soon.

Miles: 15.7

Trip Total: 44.4

MVP: Mt Cube!!

LVP: mosquitoes 😦

****

5: Jeffers Brook to The Notch

Sometimes things just seem to happen so quickly.

Climbing Moosilauke didn’t happen quickly. It was 4 slow, grinding miles up.

And I mean slow. I learned about most of Josephine Baker’s life in that time.

But eventually the trail flattened out, and the big boulders changed into smaller gravel.

And eventually we made it up. That’s what I kept telling myself, “eventually I have to make it to the top.”

We couldn’t see much. It was very cold and very windy, so we started down.

Now, most people prefer to hike Moosilauke southbound. We went northbound. And the reason they prefer to go south is that it means you climb UP the super scary steep part, which is easier than going down it.

Of course, we went down it.

We even got the pleasure of trying to figure out how to leap across this washed out section. It just went straight down to a roaring waterfall, if you’re wondering what’s so bad about a washed out section of trail.

At the bottom, we decided the best course of action was to go to The Notch hostel. We could resupply and slackpack 16 miles the next day, and that would take care of resupply, laundry, showers, and keep us on track.

It was a great decision.

We came to the hostel and got checked in, then went to town and got Mexican for lunch, then went to price chopper to buy our groceries for the next 6 days.

We walked 2 miles back to the hostel, which was nice. Showers and other chores took care of the rest of the day. McDonald’s for dinner (of course) and then we were ready for bed.

Miles: 8

MVP: Getting to the parking lot

LVP: downhill.

*****

6: slack pack the Kinsmans

We decided to slackpack 16 miles today. Slackpacking is when you leave most of your stuff at the hostel and only take what you need for a dayhike. It’s great for super challenging hikes and for knocking out some miles.

After we made pancakes, Bookie, the manager at The Notch, drove us up to Beaver Brook, where we’d left off after coming down Moosilauke yesterday.

We immediately went up. And up and up and up.

First came Mt Wolf, which was unimpressive and not worth talking about.

Then came the climb to South Kinsman Peak. People say they have a favorite mountain, or they say the super hard hikes are fun. I’ve never really gotten that until today.

This was hard. It was VERY hard. It was steep uphill and with huge, giant slabs of rock you had to pull yourself up. It was like a puzzle, trying to find the route that would give you the elevation you needed to move on.

I got tired of that about .2 miles from the summit, but that’s ok.

I was worried that the clouds rolling in would mean another foggy summit, but I was wrong.

A quick mile lead us to north Kinsman mountain. The views were amazing.

After a nice break, we started the descent. Look, it was hard. My knees will probably never recover. It’s slick rock slabs and giant boulders and everything else for about 3 miles, and then the trail evens out and we could pick up a little speed.

Good thing, too, because we had to book it to meet our shuttle on time. We went so fast, this picture is blurry.

Bookie picked us up, and after more McD and showers, we repackaged our resupply and are ready to stretch until our muscles will let us sleep.

Tomorrow, back up to the whites. And the beginning of the Presidentials!

Miles: 17

MVP: that climb up!

LVP: that climb down!

****

7: The Notch to Garfield Shelter

It was hard to leave The Notch. I know I’m all about those woods, but hostel life is fun too. We had a very grumpy guy at the McDonald’s, our morning pancakes, stories and chill time with Bookie, new people coming through…hostels are an adventure too!

But bookie drove us up to Franconia Notch and we said goodbye. We hiked the mile on the bike path, then started up to Mt Liberty.

It was a long slog, but not too technically difficult, which was nice. We dropped our packs and took the .3 blue blaze to the Mt liberty summit. Great views!

Back on trail, we soon hit what Bookie described as “pick up sticks.” 60-70 giant trees downed in a huge storm in October. We clambered and limboed and scooted around, under, over, and through.

Once we survived that, it was time to climb up Little Haystack. We could see Mt Liberty and the entire ridgeline we’d just walked. It’s incredible how far away things seem. That was only a mile or two away!

From Little haystack up to Mt Lincoln.

And from Lincoln up to Lafayette. The views were amazing, and the wind was fierce.

A long, slow descent that was not at all kind finally put us back in the tree line. We dropped down and then went back up to climb Mt Garfield.

We barely stopped, then started down to the shelter. We were tired. The 17 yesterday and all the rocks today had drained us. Our knees were tired and we were hungry.

We set up at the shelter, paid our $10 each, and settled in for an early bed.

Miles: 10

Trip total: 79.3

MVP: sour punch straws

LVP: knees

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