Monday–September 20, 2021
Location–Zealand Falls Hut
The AMC Highland Center (and the bunkhouse there) okay facilities. But on closer look, and staying over–well, mother oft’ reminded me (her golden rule), “If you can’t say something nice, just be quiet.” Anyway…
Odie came in last evening. So, this morning, Cat Tracks and me, we’ve a ride back to the trailhead at Crawford Notch. Odie drops us off there, then continues on, to park/leave his old church bus (his home) three days on down the trail at I-93, Franconia Notch.
We’ve a bit of climbing today but no Presidential peaks to pass. Plenty more of the usual rocks, boulders, and roots to stumble through.
Actually, we’ve a mile or so of more traditional-like hiking trail today, and we’re able to stride out and cover some ground. This is the first day in many-a-day I’ve actually managed better than a mile-an-hour average. We reach Zealand Falls Hut right at two-thirty, a six-hour day (to cover 7.5 miles).
Zealand Falls Hut is just as I remember it–special, very nice. It sits right on the side of the mountain, on a boulder-wall reinforced flat spot. I check in, get settled in. Comfy bunk. I take an afternoon nap. Odie makes it in well before supper.
Only one tumble today. Skinned up my right arm (next to two other right arm skid marks). All-in-all, though, it’s been not only an ideal hiking day (clear and cool), but also, a very enjoyable one…
We’re at the hut on Zealand,
And from this vantage watch.
The wind blow out the storm clouds, Down in Carrigan’s Notch.
The sun is dancing ‘long the ridge,
In splashing yellow hue.
This show? A reckless beckoning, A-callin’ me and you.
(N. Nomad 7-’98)
Sunday–September 19, 2021
Location–Crawford Notch, then to AMC Highland Center, Shapleigh Bunkhouse
A good night’s sleep, plus an energy packed breakfast at Mizpah Spring Hut, and I’m ready to go for the day. Hiking with me will be my dear friends, Copperhead, Speedy, & Greenleaf (who hiked in last night to be with me today).
The hike ahead will be much as we’re the past number of days, steady climbing, up and down on the rock-strewn trail. That is, as I’ve been told (and can remember), until the last couple of miles, which will pitch us off a steep, nearly vertical bluff, a drop of 2,500 feet to Crawford Notch.
Another dear friend, Chickety, comes to join me midday and we all start the scary downhill together. Turns out, it’s not the demon I’d feared. We take our time and work our way down fine.
A short day of hiking with Greenleaf & Chickety, and it’s farewell. Also, today is the day Copperhead & Speedy must head back to Alabama. So long dear friends all. I’ve been so fortunate to have had your company on this journey–thank you!
Evening, Odie returns to hike the remainder of the Whites with me, then all the way to Mount Moosilauke.
Chickety drops me off at the AMC Highland Center and she’s gone. Dang, these goodbyes are so difficult for me to deal with.
Ahh, but Odie has returned to support me on through to Mount Moosilauke and he is here at the Center to greet me. So good to have you hiking with me again Odie!
Demons are like obedient dogs;
They come when they are called.
(Remy de Gourmont)
Saturday–September 18, 2021
Location–Mizpah Spring Hut
One of the longest continuous night’s sleep I’ve had in awhile. A hard day on the trail plus a full tummy did it.
Wake up call is six-thirty this morning, breakfast promptly at seven.
Copperhead & Speedy wait until guests are out of the dining hall so they can have breakfast, then help clean and tidy the place. Cat Tracks and I linger, finally getting on trail a bit before eight.
Not as rough trail today, but still, plenty of (wet) rocks and boulders to ricochet through. More up and down, past Mount Monroe, Mount Franklin, Mount Eisenhower, and Mount Pierce. Many north and southbound AT thru-hikers, plus a fair number of day hikers.
Jackets and other warm clothing off and on all day as the trail crosses back and forth over the high tundra ridge, trading sides with the Presidents. More fog-driven cold wind, then clear, opening amazing uninterrupted vistas in all directions. Clouds that aren’t being driven through occupy the lower elevations way below. It all makes for unbelievable photo ops. What an amazing time, a blessed time–for this old man to be alive, taking it all in.
A short day, a blessing all its own. The trail and these mountains have beat me up plenty recent days, tiring me, wearing me down. So, what joy to arrive Mizpah Spring Hut early afternoon. Cat Tracks has arrived well before me, has saved me a lower bunk.
There are nearby platforms for tenting. So, Copperhead & Speedy are able to set up comfortably for the night.
My dear friend, Greenleaf, who lives nearby has hiked in to greet me. He’ll set up at the tenting platform too, then hike out with us in the morning.
Supper is turkey with all the trimmings. Though very sleepy after such a fine meal, I manage to stay awake long enough to get caught up on daily journal entries…
Clouds come floating into my life,
no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add color to my sunset sky.