Days 1-4: Pinkham Notch to Speck Pond Shelter

Day 1: Pinkham Notch to Imp Shelter

It was a long day of travel — I was up at 4am, to the airport at 5:30am, had THREE flights, met FD at the Boston airport, then we rode a bus for over 5 hours. We were dropped off at a gas station in Gorham, where Rattle River hostel picked us up.

The hostel was booked up, so we got the last available room. It was a private room with an en-suite bathroom and wow was it nice to not sleep with a bunch of strangers.

Anyways, we woke up rested today and got ready for our “half slack.” A slack pack is when you basically do a day hike. A hostel will drop you off and pick you up at the end of the day and all you have to carry is food and some layers. A half slack is a made up term for doing just two days. You don’t have to carry as much food and … that’s probably the only benefit.

But we took advantage, because the whites are hard and section hikers always have a steep curve of adapting to the trail again. It was a beautiful morning. We hit the trail and stopped a mile or so in for breakfast at this gorgeous pond.

We had a few miles of nice terrain and then we started going up wildcat d. It was rough.

Right around the next wildcat we got some HAIL. We threw on our rain gear and hiked on through a down pour.

We made it to carter Notch hut and dried out inside. The huts are nice because they sell baked goods and drinks for a couple bucks during the day, so we supplemented with a chocolate chip cookie bar (me), peppermint tea (me), and vegan cake (FD).

Back into the rain, which followed us most of the day, and it was just a dreary, foggy, soggy day. No views to be had.

We had fun, though. I was ALMOST ready to say I kind of liked the whites and then this kind of trail BS came up. If the whites wanted people to like it they should have made fewer GIANT BOULDERS.

We finally got to Imp around 8pm. A quick dinner (lentil soup for me!) and some dry clothes and now here we are, snug in the shelter, with some dude listening to a sports podcast next to me.

It’s weird to be back on trail. It’s hard to imagine that I’ve got THREE WEEKS of hiking, and then I’ll be done. Just done with the trail, after three and a half years of sectioning.

Miles: 13

MVP: every squat and lunge my trainer Rich made me do

LVP: ziplock. Idk what’s going on with them but all of my ziplock bags are just ripping apart. My toilet paper ziplock is destroyed.

*****

Day 2: imp shelter to rattle river hostel

The thing about hiking is that, like most public spaces in the world, it is primarily inhabited by white men. Generally middle-aged white men, at least, if you’re in a space before or after the bubble of NOBO hikers (in which case it’s early 20s white men).

And the thing about white men in the woods is that they take FOREVER to get around in the morning. They wake up at 4:30am and stumble around for a while. They cook breakfast, they sit. They wander around, they pack some stuff. They unpack some stuff. They eat a little more. They discuss philosophy and morality (“yeah, I like the blueberry flavor best”) and stare off into the middle distance.

And finally, after a solid 2.5 hours, they’ll eventually wander off and end up on a trail and just decide to keep walking.

All this to say, FD and I sat in the shelter and just waited for all the old dudes to clear out. And once they had, we ate breakfast and headed out ourselves.

We climbed Mt Moriah and, on reaching that summit, officially completed the Wildcats and Carters. It was downhill the rest of the way, and it went fairly quickly.

We ended up with some good trail.

And then…. we were done with the whites. We walked down to rattle river hostel and went about the business of getting things in order. First you shower. Then you hand over all of your dirty laundry. Then, if you’re me, you take literally everything else outside to dry in the sun. You sit and eat, you charge batteries, you drink water, you do yoga. And then suddenly it’s time for bed and you honestly don’t know what you did all day (I gnashed my teeth at how heavy my pack was but didn’t know what to drop so I’m just going to suffer).

Tomorrow we’ll head over some unnamed peaks to a shelter where I’ve been told there is a resident MOOSE. Fingers crossed!

Miles: 8

MVP: one of the workers here at the hostel

LVP: loud NOBOs

*****

Day 3: rattle river hostel to gentian pond shelter

First, I had coffee. Then, I waited over the injustice of my exorbitantly heavy pack. And finally, we started hiking.

As with most sections out of a town, we immediately went up. And up.

But really, it was a good hike. The whole day I was just happy and tired and grateful. The views were incredible.

We took several breaks today, but made good time.

There was a LOT of moose poop!

There were tiny orange flowers and alpine ponds and lily pads blooming.

There are some days on trail where you’re covered in sweat, the gnats are dive bombing your eyeballs (I inhaled at least 2), the water tastes a little funky, your mosquito bites never stop itching… but then you walk up to the shelter and see a whole world unfold.

We sat down by the pond for a while, then took over the front of the shelter. We met hikers, a giant school group came, and eventually it settled out to be me, FD, a section hiker named Wonka, and a calendar year triple crown attempter named Scooby.

We traded trail stories, talked about food, discussed privy preferences, and then made up “hiker trash commercials.” We were in stitches!

I’m tucked into bed now, with the frogs peeping and the water rushing over the beaver dam.

Tomorrow I will finish New Hampshire and hike into Maine!

Miles: 11.8

MVP: scoobys fake commercials

LVP: black flies

****

Day 4: gentian pond shelter to speck pond shelter

Today I was telling FD about Sarah Ferguson. He thought I was talking about Fergie from Black Eyed Peas.

Now that we’ve covered that, here’s the rest of the day.

I woke up EARLY. Like 4:45am. The sun was already coming up, so I got up and went down to the pond to see if there was a moose. There was not.

My hair has reached an entirely new level and I love it.

FD and I had a leisurely breakfast and then packed up. We were on trail by 6am.

I’m not really sure how to describe today. It was very, very hard. I had so, so much fun.

You know what? I’m tired, my feet are aching, here’s a bunch of pictures!

This next bit is from Mahoosuc Notch, aka the hardest mile on the AT. There’s not a trail, just a general suggestion. FD chooses high routes. I choose low routes. Love a good cave.

we survived, after only 1h28min to go 1 mile.

Next came Mahoosuc Arm, the steepest climb on the AT. Because of course. No pictures, it was awful, we made it.

But seriously. So much fun.

Miles: 14.7

MVP: deet

LVP: black flies

2 thoughts on “Days 1-4: Pinkham Notch to Speck Pond Shelter

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