August 13th 2018
Lake of the Clouds hut – Pinkham Notch (mile 1871.5)
14.9 miles
Total miles 1895.9

I’m not sure the work for stay option was worth it. It was gone 11 before everyone went to bed and then it was like a procession of elephants stomping across the floor and people traipsed across the hut to go to the bathroom. Then just before 5am the crew got up and started banging around in the kitchen. Not enough sleep! 


We packed up and got out of there around 6:30am and it was straight up Mt Washington. We were quite excited about Mt Washington. It is famous for its weather and having the highest recorded wind speed on earth. This mountain is no joke. But it was very tame when we were there. It was a nice morning, just a few clouds and we could see Washington summit. It was actually quite a nice climb to the top, not something I say often. 


The top was weird. There is a train station. A road. A cafe. An enormous weather station. It’s not the type of mountain summit I like! We were there early so it felt deserted. I’m sure it’s hideous when there are lots of people up there. The weather rolled in and we were covered by cloud. 


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There was no point hanging around up there so we went straight down. We were hoping to see the train go up but I think we were too early. The AT is weird here because we are going through the Presidentials but the AT skirts around all of the peaks. It goes around the sides of Jefferson and Adams, unusual for the AT as it normally seeks out all the high points and detours to go over them. I’ve had the song about Thomas Jefferson from Hamilton stuck in my head for weeks so had it been nice weather I would have summited Jefferson but as the top was in the cloud I didn’t bother. We did listen to a bit of Hamilton though as we traversed the Presidentials, which was awesome. 


The clouds rolled in and out on the way down, we had some small ups and downs and long walks over big rocks, and it was exhausting. None of us were feeling that great either. Peaches was feeling sick, Jukebox was feeling upset in the stomach and I had an excessive build up of gas. The last couple of miles were a struggle for all of us and my body felt totally broken. Yesterday’s fall on my bum was making itself known and I managed to smash my kneecap into a rock, so now I have a fresh cut on an old cut on an old scar. I have bruises on my legs where I have walked into trees and my knees were just generally sore from the downhill and the rocks. 


It was a relief to get to Madison hut and we hung out there for a bit. It had taken us 5 hours to hike 7 miles! I exchanged my voucher for a free baked good for a chocolate chip cookie which was delicious, and we played a game of Banangrams before we forced ourselves to hike out. The hut crew were in the middle of a changeover and crew leaving were loading up their packs on these big wooded frames which they couldn’t lift, and could only just get out of the door!


Another climb up to the top of Mt Madison, the trail has decided to take this peak in. I wasn’t feeling refreshed or energised after my break at the hut and I was climbing slowly to the top. The other two were ahead and out of sight. The weather rolled in and the views became non existent. It didn’t take too long to get to the top but getting down the other side was a different story. The trail was marked by cairns instead of white blazes and through the most they were difficult to see. The rocks were huge and I was sliding around all over the place. I just had to pray that I didn’t break an ankle which I felt like I was going to do with every step. 


It almost was game over when I stepped on some flat ground and went over on my ankle. I had a sharp pain shoot up the inside of my ankle and I writhed around on the ground in pain for a few seconds until the pain subsided. I gingerly took some steps and it was sore but I hadn’t done any lasting damage. Certain movements really hurt it but overall it’s going to be ok. 

It took me so long to get over the boulders and down to the tree line as I was being extra careful. It started to rain and I just let myself get wet. The trees were too dense to fight with my umbrella. Plus today is a town day so it didn’t matter. The way down through the trees was now wet and extra slippery. It was rooty and rocky and tight. It was difficult to pass people as no one had anywhere to go and we just had to squish ourselves into the trees. 

I really noticed the change in temperature as I got lower. It became hotter and more humid as I descended into the forest. I was exhausted. There were still miles to go and I was getting tired and slow and everything was hurting. I caught up to Peaches as she was filtering water and she got ahead of me again as we were going uphill. My toes were also bashing against the end of my shoe so that was adding to my discomfort, all I needed to do was tighten my shoelaces but I didn’t want to get any further behind. 


I heard a noise and turned off my music as I thought it was another hiker approaching. Then I saw  peaches up ahead making mad signals to me. I crept up the trail to meet her and she could see Moose in the forest. A mother and her baby. The baby was huge and I thought it was the adult. Until I saw the adult and then I saw her face. Moose have massive faces! 

Here is a really bad picture of the baby moose with the mother behind it.

We looked at them for a while before hiking on. I was tired but I was determined to keep up with Peaches and we practically ran the last 2 miles of trail. It did get nice and smooth and flat towards the end which really helped. The terrain had been so difficult and exhausting today. When we got to Pinkham Notch visitors centre we expected to see Jukebox waiting but it turns out she had already got a ride to town. We were a bit miffed but later we found out she had got there early to go to the post office and she had managed to pick up Peaches package too. 

We hitched a ride to town with an awesome pair who were work colleagues and they weren’t even going to Gorham but they drove us there anyway and took us right to the door of the post office where we met Jukebox. They were so nice and gave us cold drinks and chatted the whole way there. 


Our first mission was to get food so we found a pizza place which was rumoured to do good gluten free pizza but it was a mile away. We didn’t want to walk a mile so we hitched a ride with a scary man. He already had a hiker in his car that he dropped off on the way but when he pulled over he seemed a bit pissed that we couldn’t manage to walk a mile. He took us anyway and in the end it was my feeling that he may have been trying to make a joke, he ended up taking us right to the door of the restaurant and he was very nice but still a bit scary! 

The pizza was good. Peaches and I shared a large with the intention of packing out the leftovers. There were no leftovers. We got a hitch back into town with a nice man driving a converted van and we checked into the hostel called the Barn. It’s a barn with loads of beds crammed in to the upstairs which was great and it mean no top bunk dramas. 

It was getting late now and nearly 7pm. I wanted to go to Walmart to resupply rather than going to the gas station up the road so we chucked our laundry in, grabbed some loaner clothes and Peaches and I went to get a hitch to Walmart which was quite far out of town. We got picked up by a couple of ladies who drove past and then came back around to get us. She said she changed her mind because we smiled at them. They were crazy but great, and they took us right to the door. 

We ran into Chaco and a new hiker in there. They will zero tomorrow. I’m very envious of that! We did a hurried resupply. I got the usual rubbish and I’ve no idea if I have enough food, but I have a feeling I probably have too much. It’s heavy! It was nearly 8pm by the time we left the shop and it was starting to get dark. Not a great idea to be hitching in the dark so we walked across to parking lot to the junction with the main road and stuck our thumbs out at the car that let us cross the road and that car stopped to pick us up. The man and his daughter took us right to the door of the hostel. 5 successful hitches in one day! 


a new cut on an old cut on a scar

Everything in town always feels rushed and hurried. I showered at 8:30pm and by the time I had sorted laundry and food and chatted to people it was late. We saw one of the girls we saw the other day with the very large pack and her friend ditched her shortly after we saw her at the road. Nice!

It’s now 10:30pm. I feel very dehydrated. My ankle is throbbing and I just want to sleep and sleep and sleep…

Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 97