The skies were overcast when I woke up, but at least we had made it through the night without any rain. I noted the fact that the atmospheric conditions, unfortunately, hadn’t improved the condition of my clothes as I put on my wet socks and underwear. You would think that if you went to all the trouble to build a shelter in the shape of a hexagon that you would outfit it with a matching hexagon privy, but that was not the case. Disappointed by this lack of symmetry, I ate breakfast, packed up, and was one of the first to leave the shelter.
The travesty of a rectangular privy paired with a hexagon shelter was soon forgotten as I began the rocky 800-foot climb up Mt Cube. The higher I climbed, the bigger the rocks became until the trail surface became solid bedrock. During the climb, I kept looking back at the magnificent views which just kept getting better as I gained altitude. After nearly two hours of climbing, I finally reached the summit where I could see the beauty surrounding me in all its glory.
I don’t remember if I ever mentioned the subject of noise in my blog, so please forgive me if this is redundant. When I hiked through the Mid-Atlantic states, the one constant always seemed to be the ever-present background noise of machines. The most serious offenders are motorcycles, dump trucks, pile drivers, motorboats, and (believe it or not) riding lawnmowers. Being near freeways is good for cell phone service, but the cost of service is the constant drone of cars and trucks traveling down the highway. No matter the time, altitude, or view, if you listened carefully you could always hear the noise pollution of civilization. The noise started to diminish in Vermont, but here in New Hampshire the transformation is complete. Sitting on top of Mt Cube on a windless day, I could hear a pin drop as I surveyed the wilderness.
As had been the case on Smarts Mountain, the northbound descent from Mt. Cube followed a much gentler path. As I approached NH 25A, I began to hear the sound of children playing and the occasional sound of whistles blowing. The temperature was starting to get hot and I could visualize folks swimming in a big swimming pool. My imagination wasn’t too far off the mark because when I arrived at the NH 25A road crossing, I saw a big sign marking the entrance to Camp Moosilauke. A quick Google search revealed that Camp Moosilauke, which was founded in 1906, had a huge lakeside waterfront instead of a pool. However, the camp commanded a tuition of $7,700 for a 4-1/2 week stay, so I kept walking.
For weeks, friends ahead of me, as well as passing SOBO hikers, have been singing praises of the Omelet Man. The hype surrounding the Omelet Man had him at near legendary status, so I was excited to be only a few easy trail miles away from meeting this trail angel. As I got closer to his reported location, I saw an unusual rock on the trail and knew that this was going to be something special.
The Omelet Man is a retired construction foreman who started providing trail magic during the hiking season beginning last July. He has a shelter erected about five feet from the trail where he cooks ham and cheese omelets (the ham is carved from a pork shoulder) of any desired size for passing hikers, without accepting anything in return. In addition to omelets, he also offered bananas, cookies, muffins, juice and water. I ordered a four-egg omelet (that was delicious) and had a seat to get to know him a little better.
The Omelet Man used to work for a construction company that specializes in the renovation of historic buildings. His final project was the 2012 renovation of the New York Capital Building in Albany, NY. After retirement, he began reading books about the Appalachian Trail and decided that he wanted to spend his retirement years meeting and providing trail magic to thru-hikers. During the hiking season, he operates his makeshift kitchen daily from dawn until 5:00 pm, going through approximately 12 dozen eggs per day. It is sad to imagine, but since his setup is on National Park Service property, and he is serving cooked food without wading through the red tape involved in obtaining permits, I suspect that the bureaucratic government scrooges will eventually shut him down. In the meantime, he is one of the kindest and most generous trail angels on the A.T. and fully deserves his reputation as an icon.
Omelet Man Bonus Points: Also at the Omelet Man’s location when I arrived, was a hiker named (Not) Solo. (Not) Solo is from Canada and is a good friend of Big Tom, who I met while staying in Williamston. Big Tom had asked me to keep an eye out for his friend, so I’m happy that I finally had the opportunity to meet him.
I could have spent the rest of the day talking to the Omelet Man, but since these miles won’t walk themselves, I had to move on. For the remainder of the afternoon, I hiked through the forest along generally flat trail passing a photogenic beaver pond along the way. After crossing NH 25C, I tackled the 600-foot climb to the viewless summit of Mt Mist. Just past the summit was a small opening in the trees where I could see what I believe is Mt Moosilauke, my challenge for tomorrow.
The descent from Mt Mist brought me down to NH 25 where I walked east along the road for a short distance to the Hikers Welcome Hostel, my destination for the night. When I walked through the hostel entrance, I was surprised to find Blaze sitting in the common area. I talked with her for a while and she gave me the lowdown on the hostel check-in process. The Hikers Welcome Hostel offers bunks or tenting along with laundry, showers, and snacks. You fill out a form with a menu of available products and services and check off what you use since everything is on the honor system. While I was outside exploring the layout, I found the owner working in his garden and he told me that I could set up my tent anywhere I wanted to camp. I had already missed the shuttle to Glencliff, NH, for food, so I set up camp, spread my still damp clothes in the sun to dry, and prepared dinner. For some reason, my dehydrated meals taste so much better when eaten out of a bowl instead of a Ziploc bag.
The section hikers with the big tent from the Hexacuba Shelter (they passed me earlier this morning) were sitting out back at a picnic table processing a huge resupply box of food, so I went over to talk with them. Best friends from a small liberal arts college in Minnesota, they had just graduated and were on a grand adventure. Having adopted the trail names of Malt and Jukebox, they were hiking the A.T. portion of the White Mountains as their last hurrah before their careers took them in separate directions. Malt majored in American Studies and Jukebox, who would be moving to California to work for Google, majored in Computer Science.
After taking a shower, I turned on my phone to scroll through my Facebook feed and saw a post by Blaze saying that Naps had gone home for his new job and that she was getting off the trail. She stated that Naps was the only reason that she had stayed on the A.T. this long and, with him gone, she was headed back to Texas. I went back inside to talked with her and she was adamant about her decision. I told her that I had enjoyed meeting her and wished her the best of luck in whatever the future holds for her.
By now, the food shuttle had returned from town and the hostel was packed with an interesting combination of day/section/thru-hikers who were sitting around eating pizza and watching a movie. I know this because throughout the course of the evening I made four or five trips to the refrigerator in the common area to get ice cream sandwiches and sodas. Back at the Inn at the Long Trail, a shuttle driver told me that the nature of my hike would change completely from this point forward, so I was getting prepared.
Date: July 28, 2017
Starting Location: Hexacuba Shelter
Ending Location: NH 25, Glencliff, NH
AT Miles Today: 14.8
AT Miles To Date: 1,791.1