July 17, 2013
Today’s mileage: 19.3
Total mileage: 1795.0
I woke up this morning feeling a lot better than I did yesterday. I was hoping that would be the case, since we had to make up some miles from yesterday. The first part of our day was fairly easy and we cruised through the trail and across the roads. I saw my sixth bear today! I heard it running towards the trail and then saw it a bit off trail. It stopped, possibly to eat something, and I wanted to snag a photo of it. However, I didn’t want to startle it, so I made my presence known by saying a few words and it scampered off into the trees.
It was a hot one today and we suffered from deer fly orbital syndrome at the lower elevations. We took a couple of breaks before starting our big ascent up Mt. Moosilauke, our first mountain in the Whites. It’s hard to believe we’re in the White Mountains now, a part of our hike that we have dreamed about for months. We would look ahead in our guide book on cold nights in the tent and comment on the steepness of the Whites. And now, we’re going to be hiking those mountains for the next week going up and down and up and down. Our reward however, is the amazing views we’ll see each and every day. Well, as long as the weather cooperates.
The climb up Moosilauke was about 4.5 miles and had an elevation gain of about 3,500 feet. I actually found this climb easier than both of our ascents yesterday. It was long, but definitely not the most difficult to come. Miles was having a hard time at first and had to stop several times. The heat was really getting to him and he felt like he had eaten too much during our break. We stopped to rest, drink water, and dip our buffs in the streams in order to dampen our necks and foreheads. The last thing we wanted to deal with was heat stroke, so we took things slow.
At 4,802 feet, we made it above tree line and were rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Whites. We dwarfed the other mountains and admired what we could through the haze. We rested in a small stone structure that sheltered us from the wind. It reminded me of a house that the kids in the book, Roxaboxen would have built.
It was nearing 6:00 as clouds started to roll in, so we started to make our descent towards the shelter. I could hear thunder in the distance, so I began to hike as quickly as I could. This didn’t help me much at first, as I somehow crossed my feet and then managed to trip and fall in the dirt. Not my finest moment in life, but at least no one was there to witness it. Slowly, the thunder rumbling came closer. I rolled my ankle, got my foot stuck between two rocks, and slammed my ankle bone against a boulder as I became distracted by the oncoming storm. And all of this happened in about a mile. We beat out the storm and rain and found an empty shelter. We set up our tent inside and retrieved our water before the thunderstorms and torrential downpours rolled through. I was scared as usual, keeping to the back corner of the shelter as we cooked and ate our dinner. I’m thankful that we’re safe and dry in the shelter tonight instead of in a flooded tent out in the rain. I only hope that the storms pass through so that I can get a good night’s sleep. Then, I can dream about the fact that we have less than 400 miles to go.