Finishing New Hampshire

12 Aug

Ever since we started the trail we have heard that the first 350 miles would be the hardest. NOBO (northbound hiker) after NOBO told us we would cruise after Mount Moosilauke in New Hampshire. The terrain would be flat, pine needle covered and speedy (everything we dreamed of while climbing up and down those slick rocks!). So after a month of anticipating Mt Moosilauke we finally summited on Wednesday to beautiful 360 degree views and got ready to fly. Which we did- kind of.

Turns out there are still mountains (albeit smaller ones), some very sturdy hills, and some nice, slick, muddy rocks. Even in Southern New Hampshire. So while I wouldn’t say we are “flying” as anticipated, we have upped our mileage a bit with hopes of longer days to come soon.

One of the biggest changes on the trail is more about the people than the terrain. We have passed small groups of northbounders since we started, but lately there were less and less. Emily and I even discussed betting on which day would be the last time we saw a NOBO, thinking it would be any day. We were wrong. We hit a huge “bubble” of NOBOs this week, with no apparent end. We went from seeing 0-5 a day to 30+. On Thursday we shared a shelter with 12 other people due to a torrential downpour that started late, before anyone could pitch a tent. On Friday we came upon our first full shelter in weeks and had to find a tent spot in the last light of the day. However, we really noticed how crowded things had become last night when we came into Hanover. There are a couple miles of trail that go right through the town here, and everyone knows about the hikers and the AT. They even have an amazing Trail Angel network with a nice list of people that will take you in, let you do laundry and give you a place to sleep. So after enjoying our huge lunch yesterday we started making calls. Emily called every person on the list and they were all full (or out of town). We finally got a taste of what the northbounders must experience with a “crowded” trail! Luckily, after many hotel calls and some discussion of camping in a field in the rain, one of the angels called Emily back and offered us space. It is only his second night allowing hikers in his home and he has been incredibly gracious. I think the first group of hikers even convinced him to do the trail next year!

The other major obstacle this week has been the rain. So. Much. Rain. We had gotten very lucky with the weather so far, only getting rained on a few days, often when we were in town. No longer. It started storming on Thursday night and hasn’t let up much since. Thursday we were in the shelter when it started pouring, but Friday we couldn’t avoid it. It started raining during the morning, followed by some intense thunder and lightening and it never seemed to let up. We had several harrowing moments crossing open rock slabs, trying to time it in between thunder and lightening. Several times the storm turned the trail into a muddy river, ankle or calf deep. I half expected to see Jim Cantori from the Weather Channel on the trail, and then I would really know it was bad! Luckily Emily and I have learned the art of laughing through the insanity, and we were able to push through that day, knocking out 18 miles and enjoying our Mac and cheese comfort food at the end of it all. However the forecast doesn’t look dry, so keep your fingers crossed for us!

We also want to give a HUGE thank you to Scott in Hanover who earned the title of Mega Trail Angel. We met Scott back in Maine at a shelter and he was gracious enough to give us his contact info for when we got to his home town of Hanover. He went way above and beyond the call of duty, shuttling us all over town, helping us look for a place to stay, buying us delicious food, introducing us to Lou’s and even providing gelato while we packed up by the river. He was absolutely amazing and we are so so grateful!!!

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2 Responses to “Finishing New Hampshire”

  1. Honest Abe August 12, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    Great to meet you three (Bear, Catnap, and Siesta) on the south slope of Smarts out in the rainy afternoon. Have you done any pull-ups yet? I hope there are many more smiles in your futures. Best of luck!

    • emily August 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

      Oh my… I am still Lucky and Siesta is Carrot. We just never get to take our naps. How are you? Gettin close?

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