At 7:30 am I was packed and ready to go when the van from the Rattle River Hostel pulled up in front of the motel to give me a ride to the Appalachia Trailhead. When I opened the van door, I discovered that the driver was none other than Odie Norman, the creator of the Appalachian Trail Yearbook! I had first met Odie at the Laughing Heart Hostel in Hot Springs, NC, and it was a pleasant surprise to see him again. He typically follows the hiker bubble northbound, while taking odd jobs along the way, to promote his Yearbook and to remind hikers to upload their picture. In no time, he safely deposited me in the trailhead parking lot and I was on my way.
The weather was very mild as I began climbing on the 3.5-mile long Valley Way Trail towards the Madison Spring Hut where I would resume my A.T. hike. The Valley Way follows the Snyder Brook for much of the climb, providing multiple views of pretty waterfalls along the way. For some reason, the final miles seemed a lot rockier and steeper going up than I remember when I was transported down a couple of days ago, but I still arrived back at the hut in well under three hours.
What a difference a few days can make! When I arrived at the Madison Spring Hut, I found the sign directing me to the summit of Mt Madison on the Osgood Trail and started climbing. There were some clouds in the area, but there was very little wind. It almost seemed strange to be among the rocks without being blasted by hurricane-strength gusts of wind and when there was a break in the clouds, the views were incredible. I made short work of reaching the summit and couldn’t help but think of my friends that made this same journey two days ago under much different conditions.
From the summit of Mt Monroe, I began the three-mile descent from the top of the Presidential Range. It was slow going as I picked my way through the very rocky terrain, but the magnificent vistas above the treeline made the time seem to quickly go by. At last, I was getting a taste of what had been robbed from me by the weather since I climbed Mt Washington.
Interestingly enough, the A.T. at this point is going due south having made a 180-degree loop since leaving Mt Washington. The trail eventually descends below the treeline and I found myself once again hiking through the forest. Upon reaching the Osgood Tentsite, the A.T. meanders through the beautiful Great Gulf Wilderness via the Osgood Cutoff Trail, the Great Gulf Trail, and the Madison Gulf Trail where I crossed the West Branch of the Peabody River on an interesting suspension bridge. After leaving the Great Gulf Wilderness, I crossed the Mt. Washington Auto Road where the less adventuresome whiz by in cars on their way to the Mt Washington summit.
At the bottom of the hill, I returned to civilization at Pinkham Notch, home of the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center and the Joe Dodge Lodge. It was 4:20 pm and I was extremely disappointed to discover that the deli in the visitor’s center closed at 4:00 pm. There is no cell service in Pinkham Notch, but a nice man in the gift shop let me use their telephone to call the Rattle River Hostel (formerly the White Mountain Hostel) to let them know that there were three hikers here that were waiting for the 5:00 pm shuttle. The shuttle arrived promptly as scheduled and we were on our way.
The Rattle River Hostel, in addition to providing a free shuttle to and from Pinkham Notch, is unique in many ways. Upon arrival, you are required to turn in your dirty laundry (for a free washing) and put on loaner clothes prior to entering the house, and then to shower prior to entering the common areas. Not a bad policy. The hostel also runs multiple shuttles to Gorham, NH, for a mere $3 per round trip. After showering, I squeezed into the van (along with Mt Madison survivors Peanut and Shiver) for a ride to Wal-Mart to get some food. Wal-Mart would never be my first choice (or even second or third) for fine dining, but a salad, an apple, and a tub of barbeque chicken nuggets did the trick. On the return trip, the shuttle driver even stopped at Gorham’s largest purveyor of craft beer!
The cell service at the hostel is marginal, so I spent the rest of my evening trying to upload pictures for my blog. It is a time-consuming process, but Gorham is the last town of any size I will be visiting along the A.T. so I don’t know how much success I will have with uploads going forward. It has been a long day and I’m feeling very tired. Tomorrow I will return to Pinkham Notch.
Date: August 8, 2017
Starting Location: Madison Spring Hut
Ending Location: NH 16, Pinkham Notch
AT Miles Today: 7.8
AT Miles To Date: 1,870.4