Before entering the White Mountains, Stick and I agreed we should stay together and watch each other's back. Now I was getting off the trail, leaving him to go solo over the last section of the Whites.
I wasn’t holding up my end of the agreement, but it was what I needed to do if I was going to finish. Stick took this in stride and didn't complain.
|Date||Wednesday, September 6, 2017|
|Weather||Intermittent rain throughout the day, with a high temperature of around 60°F|
|Trail Conditions||Wet, with fewer rocks and more roots than seen in recent days|
My plan today was to walk down to Pinkham Notch, which is where the Appalachian Mountain Club operates a lodge and visitors center. This is where we were dropped off a couple days ago when we came down off Mt. Washington because of bad weather.
I intended to then go to Rattle River Hostel and stay there three nights. For today and the next two days, Stick should have enough time to hike the 21.2 miles over the Wildcat and Carter mountains, and arrive at Rattle River. Assuming my ankle has healed sufficiently, I planned to continue with him on the trail from there.
And what about the 21.2 miles Stick will have done but I skipped?
I'm thinking I will come back to do it, maybe right after I reach Mt. Katahdin. For now, I just want to commit to getting to Maine. I’m still working on staying positive and focused.
A thunderstorm rumbled through the mountains last night, but the rain that came with it ended just before we woke up this morning.
Stick left Osgood Tent Site early to give himself extra time to make a steep climb up Wildcat Mountain, which is located on the other side of Pinkham Notch.
I took my time because I knew I only had 4.7 miles to reach the visitors center. There wasn’t any point in arriving too soon. I guessed the hostel staff would be busy helping hikers get back on the trail and wouldn’t have time to pick me up until later in the morning.
As it was, I was on the trail by 7:30. Rain started to fall as I finished packing, which forced me to pick up the pace.
For the first three-quarters of a mile, the trail continued the steep descent it began yesterday.
There were a couple of streams near the end of this section. The first was called Parapet Brook, and it required some rock hopping. Though the rocks were wet with rain, I hopped over them without difficulty.
A short distance later, the brook flowed into the West Branch of the Peabody River and then the trail crossed the river. Rock hopping wasn’t necessary this time, thanks to a long, wooden footbridge.
Crossing the river here would have been difficult because of the river's flow, which was boosted by last night’s rain.
For now, though, the rain had stopped again. I continued on as the trail began to climb, gradually at first.
About a mile later there was another stream crossing. When I approached it I saw crossing it was going to be tricky.
“Here's where I fall in the creek,” I said to myself out loud, almost as if I were the narrator of my own documentary.
My pessimism didn’t turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. I didn't fall.
More stream crossings followed, which I also managed to navigate without incident. The trail continued its climb, now more steeply as it went up to a spot called Low’s Bald Spot.
A side trail led to a view spot, but because of the wet weather I didn’t seen any point of going there. There wouldn’t be much of a view to see.
Another tenth of a mile farther, the trail crossed the Mt. Washington Auto Road. This is the same road the vans used that drove us down from the mountain three days ago, then back up the day before yesterday.
No cars or vans went by as I crossed the road. This was another bad day for sightseeing at the summit.
The last part of the trail’s descent to Pinkham Notch was much easier, though wet rocks and roots continued to provide occasional hazards. I managed to avoid falling or twisting my ankle.
This section followed the path of Old Jackson Road, which was built in 1885 and used as part of the carriage route to the top of Mt. Washington.
A light rain fell again when I arrived at the visitors center at 11:25 a.m. I dropped my pack outside on the porch and went in to dry out and warm up.
There was no cellphone service here, so I couldn’t call the hostel on my phone. I had read in a trail guide that gift shop employees will usually let hikers use the shop's phone to call the hostel, so I politely asked an employee if this was possible. She not only said yes, she dialed the number for me.
I was told there was room for me at the hostel and I would be picked up as soon as possible. Knowing there was at least 20 minutes drive to get here, I decided to get something to eat in the lunch room.
An hour later, I still had not been picked up. It seemed to me more than enough time had passed, so I asked the gift shop employee if she would mind me calling again.
The same person I talked to the first time answered the phone again. As soon as I asked about the ride he apologized and admitted he had forgotten me. He said he would be right there.
As I was about to go out to the porch to wait, I remembered the unauthorized purchases made on my credit card when I had dinner with Felx, Stick and Stitches. Because of these bogus charges, my wife Kim had to close the charge account, but that was after I had purchased a pair of trekking poles at Galehead Hut.
I didn’t like the idea of having the charge on that purchase bounce, so I went back to the gift shop employee and described my problem. I asked if there was a way to reach the accounting department and give my debit card number instead.
“Just a minute,” she said. She went back to the phone, made a short call, and a minute later a woman from the accounting department appeared. I had not realized this, but there was an office upstairs.
I explained the situation. The accounting office employee said she would see the transaction when it was brought down from the hut. She then took my name and other information, along with my debit card number, and said she would take care of it.
A short time later, a car from Rattle River Hostel arrived. The driver was a past thru-hiker named Mellow. Yellow was with him, a dog who completed the thru-hike with Mellow.
When we arrived at the hostel, Mellow showed me around. It was operated similar to The Notch Hostel, where Stick, Ralph and I stayed on Day 140. The packs were kept in the garage and never brought into the house.
I learned that when Rattle River's current owner bought the hostel earlier this year, he got a lot of ideas on how to run it from the owners of The Notch.
There weren’t many hikers here yet, but among them were a few I knew, including Yung Gandalf, Mona, and Wolfdogg.
The remainder of the day was mostly spent resting and staying off my ankle. There was only one more thing for me to do today and that was something important. I called Kim to wish her happy birthday and update her on my change of plans.
Round, round, Robin run around
Gotta get back to where you belong
Little bit harder, just a little bit more
Little bit further than you gone before