After spending weeks in Maine, New Hampshire was a welcomed change. It’s a state often mentioned as a favorite among thru hikers. The main reason behind that being the White Mountains, a range of high peaks, many of which are above treeline.
When me and Spirit entered into the state and the town of Gorham, rain was pouring down. A stay at the Rattle River Hostel seemed in place. The first shower after being dirty and sweaty for days felt like coming back to life.
The following day we began our first day in the White Mountains with a range called the Wildcats. Hiking these steep and barren mountains in bad weather proved to be nothing short of treacherous. Having just switched to a new, unfamiliar pair of shoes made for a couple hard falls and countless close calls.
We made it through safe(ish) and went back into Gorham. Not wanting to spend money on another night in the hostel, we decided to camp behind the Walmart. It proved easy enough, but spending that long at a Walmart made me feel dirty in a completely different way. It was an experience I don’t hope to relive anytime soon.
As we were about to leave town to head back into the mountains and the familiar dirt of the trail, we heard someone yelling our names. It was Sincerity and Barefoot who I hadn’t seen since northern Maine! They were joined by Green Machine and were sharing a room at a motel with Marcus and Tinkerbell who I also hadn’t seen for a long time. They invited us back to their room to hang out and catch up. We ended up spending the night and taking an unintentional zero day. We were 7 hikers in one room and it smelled BAD.
The next day me and Spirit left for real, this time going up the Presidential Range. Probably the most well known range in the area. Partly for it’s stunning views, partly because of Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the northeast.
Luckily, we got a beautiful day and spectacular views in all directions. Mt. Madison was first up, with the biggest climb of the day, to make it up to the ridge. As soon as I got above treeline, I was bursting with energy and felt light on my feet. Being over treeline has that effect. Maybe it’s the mountain air. Or the sense of being on top of the world. Anyway I made it to the top before I knew it.
Below the peak there’s the Madison Hut. The White Mountains are maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and they’ve built several huts throughout the range. It’s sort of bittersweet for thru hikers. Mainly because the huts cost $130+ a night to stay in and are located at sensible distances between each other. Luckily most of them have an option where you can work for stay where they let you sleep on the floor in exchange for a few chores.
I just stopped in at Madison Hut for coffee before starting the ascent up to Mt. Washington.
The summit of Washington was strange. We were up there on a weekend and the place was full of people who drove up the road or took the train up. Being surrounded by all these deodorant smelling people made me feel like an oddity. I didn’t take many pictures on the summit as the experience was unsettling. We didn’t stay long and as soon as we were off the paved path, the crowds disappeared.
That night we got a work for stay at Mizpah Spring Hut. In exchange for doing dishes and scrubbing the kitchen floor we got dinner and a dry place to stay. Seems like a good deal to me.
The following day we hitched into Lincoln, NH to resupply. It was supposed to be a quick there and back sorta deal, but we ended up spending five hours at McDonald’s.
With heavy packs we hitched back to the trail. Except the guy we hitched with didn’t drop us off. Instead he took us three miles down the road that we ended up having to walk.
The next big thing was Franconia Ridge. One of my favorite parts of the trail.
After the Presidentials and Franconia, the mountains toned down a little. The hiking was still difficult and rewarding, but the ridge walking had come to an end.
The last few days in New Hampshire were marked by a few memorable sunsets and a rainy day on Mt. Moosilauke.
Right before the border to Vermont, lies the town of Hanover, home to Dartmouth University. The trail walks right through the town. I did my biggest day so far into town, with showering and laundry in mind. I made it in good time and got a shower. However, despite throwing my laundry in the machine and paying for it, the rec center closed and kicked us out mid wash. With wet, soapy clothes I went out into the rain, not really sure what to do next.