|On Franconia Ridge|
The two miles of Franconia Ridge are completely above treeline and the views all around on a clear day are suppose to be amazing. And we had a perfectly clear day on our hands. I emerged onto the ridge and was speechless. Worth Every Step. Everyone was in complete awe of the vast beauty that surrounded them. The ridge went up and over the summits of Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Lafayette. We all took our sweet time along the ridge, stopping every few minutes to simply take it all in. The hikers who got off before this, who never got a chance to experience this, well they fucked up. This stretch was quickly becoming my favorite as it put every other view to shame.
We paused at Mt. Lincoln before heading up to Mt. Lafayette. In his memoir, David "AWOL" Miller commented that the views from the top of Lafayette were bound only by the limits of his vision. How superbly right he was. We all hung out at the summit for a bit, drinking some beers we packed out and basking in the glory of our awesome lives. Realizing it was getting late, we all tore ourselves away and began the three mile descent to Garfield Pond. According to my stealth list from the guys at the hostel, once you hit the pond, if you walked east off the trail a few hundred yards you will find an impacted site where a shelter from the 30's used to be. Sure enough we found a large flattened area off the pond large enough for all of us (me, my dad, White Wolf, Pants, Meds and FM). There was an actual shelter/campsite a mile up the trail but it was one you had to pay to use. The fee was only $8, but is it was the principle of the thing, plus it would be full of normies, plus we had to climb up and over Mt. Garfield to get there. That should be enough excuses. We were happy with our pond, pond people we were. I went to bed content and pondering how awesome the rest of the Whites were gonna be.
|Looking back at everything we had climbed|
As we were eating our soup, we received a pleasant surprise. Around the corner comes Beowulf. Beowulf was a hiker I met way back in N.C., but he was cruising and only saw him again when we both went back for trail days. I had heard he summited at the end of July, so imagine my surprise when he strolled into Galehead, 360 miles from Katahdin. My first thought was 'is he yo-yoing? Am I getting lapped right now?' (a yo-yo is when you complete your thru-hike, then immediately turn around and hike back to GA. Don't ask me why, there is only one in the 2012 class that I know of attempting to do this ). Beowulf had summited at the end of July, and not wanting to leave the trail, immediately got a job with the huts. He was at Greenleaf Hut, which we skipped. It was his three day off period so he was just hiking around. It was good to see a hiker who had actually finished, that this trail actually did have an end. He was gonna stay at Zealand Falls Hut that night (in the croo quarters) so we would see him the next day.
|Atop South Twin Mountain|
|With a great view...|
The next morning I was the last to leave, milking every last second at this awesome spot. I finished my descent off Zealand meeting everyone at Zealand Falls Hut. Beowulf was there hanging out with the croo, and they gave us a bunch of baked goods for free. The huts during the day were actually kinda cool, the guests are gone hiking so they are quiet, so the croo are a bit more relaxed and willing to slide thru-hikers some goods. Though I still stand by the statement they would be cooler if they weren't there. I saw from the register my dad had done WFS there the night before and was gonna try to make it to Mizpah Hut that night. We had less ambitious plans to camp somewhere before that. The boys were all hoping to hitch a ride at Crawford Notch to some gas station in the middle of nowhere to get more food as they were running low. We were hoping to find a place to camp at Saco River right after the notch, saving the climb up Mt. Webster for the next day. Myself having brought enough food to get through the Whites, I decided that instead of hitching to a gas station, I would have a waterfall themed day and take a few side trails.
|Chillin at Zealand Falls Hut|
We got up early to get as much day as possible, we all agreed we would try and do WFS at Lakes of the Clouds Hut that night. We hadn't had a "thru-hiker hut experience" yet, and though I was ok keeping it that way, there was no way I was going up and over Washington after everything else I had to do that day. My dance card was full. We all got going, slowly climbing up to Webster Cliffs. White Wolf, FM and I got ahead of Pants and Meds, and the three of us hiked together most of the day. We hung out at Webster Cliffs for a bit, and then traveled the half mile traverse, enjoying views all along the way.
|White Wolf enjoying Webster Cliff|
My frustration quickly subsided as I looked out from the top of Mt. Jackson. What was my hurry? Why would I want to hike any faster? So I could leave this beautiful place? From that moment on I never for the rest of my trip cared how fast I was hiking. I was slowly coming to the end of this journey and I wanted to savor every step. Besides, I really had nowhere to be, and all day to get there.