August 7th 2018
Moose Mountain Shelter – NH route 25a (mile 1782.3)
22.3 miles
Total miles: 1804.7

It was a hot night and I just had my sleeping bag draped across part of a leg. It was a struggle to get up in the morning as my body is sore and I’m tired. I really feel like I could sleep for a week. I would like to be in a bed without my phone, but maybe with Netflix so I could just drift in and out of sleep. 


I packed up and went to use the privy which was an awesome one. A roof but no walls. I hiked on before Peaches and knew she would catch up to me pretty quickly. My first thought about being in the trail was how hot it was. The air felt thick, like you could touch it. 


There was some confusion about the campsite last night and Shred had said he was going to do a big day today but when Peaches caught up to me at the end of the downhill she said she had heard from them and they are now doing 20 mile days so they will just be 5 miles ahead of us all week which seems silly to me. They said to catch them up but I don’t want to push a big day, plus they were the ones that left! I was a bit annoyed if I’m honest. We could have all had a fun time together but now we are all spread out for the sake of 5 miles. Oh well. That’s just people I guess. 

I got out of the funk I was in by plugging myself into some podcasts to try and help get me up this first climb. It was about 1200ft over a mile and it was very steep. The heat also made it difficult and I was sweating a lot. I was going really slowly and I was leapfrogging with this guy we had seen at the shelter last night. He was wearing a bug net and they make you sweat 5 times as much. I didn’t know how he was still alive. 

After much puffing and panting I made it to the top and down the other side to the shelter the others had stayed at last night. If I had carried on I would have gotten there after 8pm so I was pleased we camped where we did. At the top you could see the heat haze over the mountains. The downhill the other side was steep and rocky and took us back to the elevation we started at.


the trail is through there

Then another big uphill up to Smarts Mountain. There were a couple of miles of gentle uphill before the rough stuff began. The climb to the first viewpoint was really steep and I had to sit several times to stop myself overheating. I don’t think I’ve been this sweaty. It was literally pouring out of my face and running down my neck. My back felt like it was radiating heat and that was the thing making me feel funny. I had to take off my pack and let my body cool down before I passed out. I tried to drink a lot and I fuelled on some snacks. 


There were sections of trail that came out about the trees and moved over slabs of rock. Those slabs of rock really retain the heat and I was pretty uncomfortable crossing them. I just wanted to be back in the shade of the trees. The humidity was like 200%. I was sweaty in all the places my pack touched my body and I had sweat dripping off the end of my nose. Not to mention the bugs. Oh my god the bugs were bad. They were in my eyes and buzzing around my ears. That’s the worst. The buzzing around the ears really drives you crazy until you’re shouting at them to leave you alone. 


I was making slow progress but I was about half a mile over an overall pace of 2 miles an hour. I struggled my way uphill from viewpoint to viewpoint and then came to the last 0.6 to the summit. That’s when it started to rain and a thunderstorm rolled in. There was some lightening and the thunder was pretty loud and the rain came down hard. It was blowing in from the side so my umbrella wasn’t doing much to protect my left side. The rocks were slippery and the trail became a river with water cascading down. My feet were instantly soaked and the rain continued until I made it to the top. It wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be heading in a storm, to the highest point, but I was thankful the rain had mostly stopped when I got there. 


I made a quick trip up the to top of the fire tower and there were some nice views, if a little cloudy. I got a text from Peaches to day she had stopped in at the shelter for lunch. I looked at the map. The next shelter was over 5 miles away. Was she 5 miles ahead of me? I had been going slow but I don’t think I was that slow. I was still clinging to that 2 mile an hour pace by my fingernails. There was a ranger station at the top of this mountain but I didn’t think she would be there. 


I carried on down the other side of the mountain without stopping to eat anything and it was now around 2pm. It turned out Peaches had stopped at the ranger station and had waited out the rain there. It just started to rain when she got to the top so I was only 0.6 behind. I lead us down the mountain and of course after that heavy downpour it was wet and muddy. My feet were already soaking wet so I was just walking straight through it but Peaches was trying to keep her feet dry by hopping from logs and rocks. 


We saw some trailcrew out doing some maintenance and we thanked them for their work, one guy said they were getting paid for it. I felt like asking them to paint some more white blazes in this section because I have spent most of the day hoping I’m on the right trail! The white blazes are few and far between in New Hampshire. 

We came to one bit which was pretty waterlogged and I made a comment that this couldn’t have just been from the rain. I stepped on a log and I sank into the muddy water up to my thigh. My right leg met absolutely no resistance and it was only my left leg getting caught up under me that stopped my from sinking any further. 

Peaches rushed over to try and help me running through the water and getting her shoes soaking wet. She is too kind. I definitely would have laughed and taken a picture first and only after that tried to help. But she was trying to haul my up with little success! I managed to move my left foot and get some purchase and with her help got out of the mud. It would have been pretty difficult on my own as there was nothing solid around to hold on to. 


I made it to the other side of the swamp with a few near misses. All the logs I stepped on sank and I ended up half in the water. Peaches stepped on a log and fell in right up to her thigh too. She got herself out while I recorded her. I’m a terrible person. 


I managed to cut my knee a bit which looked worse than it was because the blood was sleeping into the water on my leg but it was just a scratch. We were both covered in mud and we were trying to get to the bottom of this hill and to the river where we could wash off. We warned a couple of sobos about the bog so hopefully they will be ok. 


The downhill felt like it was never going to end and it was a relief to get to the bottom. We both stood in the river with our shoes on and cleaned the mud off. Our shoes couldn’t have been any wetter anyway. We got water and I ate some snacks to try and fend off the hunger pains. 

After the downhill it was time to go up again. Another 1500ft climb. It was marginally cooler than it had been the is morning but now we were done low again I thought the humidity was getting back up there. As I began the climb it started to rain again. Another thunderstorm rolled in. This time there was more thunder and lightening but we were on the edge of the rain and it wasn’t so heavy. 

There were lots of rocks to climb up and most of them were very slippery. I fell a couple of times and bashed my legs of rocks. At one point there was just a giant slab of rock in from of me which looked pretty slick. Thankfully there was a way around to the left. Most of the trail is marked with cairns, and very few white blazes. It had mostly stopped raining when I reached to top and this time I didn’t have to stop to prevent overheating, just to rub my sore legs. 


On the way down I ate all the snacks from my fanny pack and I was still hungry. By they time I had caught up to Peaches who was filtering water at a stream I was starting to feel a bit delirious. I was dehydrated, even though I had drunk way more water than normal today, it must have just poured out of my face because I had only urinated once and now I had been holding on to a wee for a lot longer that I should have. I was really hungry. The bugs were still buzzing around my ears and I was having trouble speaking. My tongue felt thick and heavy and I had trouble formulating words. 


The downhill went on for what felt like forever again. We could hear voices and for a moment I thought it could be trail magic. I began fantasising about hotdogs. I don’t even like hotdogs. But if there had been someone there cooking hotdogs I would have eaten one, probably three. We eventually we found a spot to camp in and there was no trail magic. The noise we could hear was from a nearby camp and it was a bunch of squealing children. There were thousands of mosquitoes there so we got our tents set up quickly and got inside. I had a wee before getting in as once I was in I didn’t want to get out again. I smacked my kneecap into a dead tree stump. That hurt a lot and was exactly what I didn’t need! 

I’m not carrying any real food. Just candy and chocolate and crisps so Peaches donated me a bread roll and I had a hummus packet from Jukebox so I ate that for dinner along with some of the junk I have. I lay for a while just on the ground before getting around to blowing up my air mat. The back of my top and the back of my shorts are soaked. That going to be lovely to put on in the morning! 

Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 91