When I woke up this morning, I had zero energy even after a good night’s sleep. But I also had several mountains to climb before getting back to the Rattle River Hostel. To reduce my pack weight, I left most of my food at the hostel when I left there yesterday so I was highly motivated to get down the trail whether I felt like it or not.
My morning started with an 800-foot climb as I left my hidden campsite near Zeta Pass and hiked towards the summit of Middle Carter Mountain. This small climb was more of a struggle than it should have been because my legs didn’t feel like they had much strength. But the weather was nice and there were spectacular views from the tops of both Middle Carter Mountain and the nearby North Carter Mountain.
The trail down from North Carter Mountain was all rocks and at times it was very steep. I was happy that I had not attempted this descent to the Imp Campsite yesterday because I would have arrived after dark due to the slow going. But I needed to get there this morning to replenish my water supply. When I finally arrived at the Imp Campsite, it had long been deserted by the folks who passed me yesterday so I took a short break and filtered some water before continuing down the trail.
A short distance from the Imp Campsite, the rocky trail once again heads uphill. This time, the 800-foot climb is to the summit of Mt Moriah where I was rewarded with another spectacular view of the surrounding mountains including a look back at the Presidential Range. More importantly, from my perspective, was the fact that it was my last peak in the White Mountains and my last climb of the day.
Feeling drained of strength and energy, I began the long descent from the ridgeline towards US 2. The White Mountains had been very difficult and I felt so tired that I was beginning to question my resolve to continue hiking. After crossing the Rattle River, the entire nature of the trail changed and it stretched before me like a long, flat, and smooth highway. It was as if the mountains sensed my weariness and provided me with a brief respite from the constant grind of climbs and descents. Other than the short section of railroad track bed that I enjoyed a week ago on Whitewall Mountain, this is the only flat trail section I have seen since arriving in New Hampshire. It felt so good to stretch into a full stride.
When the trail reached US 2, it was only a few yards away from the Rattle River Hostel. I saw one of the guys there that had slackpacked from Pinkham Notch yesterday and asked him about his hike (he is taking a “zero” today to recover). He told me that it was challenging, but he made the 21-mile hike in just under twelve hours. When I was his age, I probably could have achieved that time too, but now it took me six additional hours of hiking to cover the same territory.
I didn’t feel like spending an hour at Wal-Mart so I asked the shuttle driver if he would drop me off at the Cumberland Farms convenience store on his way there, and pick me up after dropping off the other guests. He agreed to that plan, so I was able to obtain my calories for the evening with a quick turnaround time. Back at the hostel, I was relaxing outside when another hiker named Taos arrived having just completed the 21-miles from Pinkham Notch. Taos is from California, in his late 50’s, and, with his long blonde hair, looks more like an old surfer dude than a thru-hiker. Today, he looked beat up with a thousand-meter stare, bleeding cuts on his legs, and, to complete the picture, a continuous tremor in his left hand. I’m guessing that there is a “zero” day in his near future.
Date: August 10, 2017
Starting Location: Stealth Camp
Ending Location: US 2, Gorham, NH
AT Miles Today: 9.0
AT Miles To Date: 1,891.5