Day 126: Beaver Brook Shelter to Lonesome Lake Hut

July 18, 2013

Today’s mileage: 14.8
Total mileage: 1809.8

The Whites don’t mess around. These are some serious mountains here in New Hampshire.

After the huge storm that rolled through last night, we both didn’t sleep well. We left the shelter around 7:30 and started off our day with a really steep downhill. The rocks were wet from the rain and some of the trail had become a stream overnight. We had to very careful, so it took us a lot longer to get down to the road than we had planned. But, we were rewarded for our efforts with sodas from Sit-a-Bit, who had left trail magic at the road. Thanks for the trail magic!

The climb up to Mt. Wolf wasn’t the toughest that we’ll encounter, but we had a rough time anyways. We usually stop to eat every 6 of 7 miles, so today we planned no differently. However, I was hungry earlier than that, so that put me in a bad mood. I was determined to reach the top of the mountain before stopping, so I kept going, climbing up rock after rock. I was so tired by the time we reached the top, I could have stopped right there for the day.

I felt better after we ate and rested, munching on Goldfish as I looked out towards the Presidential Range. What a view we had from Mt. Wolf! The mountains looked daunting, but we felt ready to conquer them. We stopped to fill up on water at Eliza Brook Shelter before making the big climb up to Kinsman Mountain.

Then, things got serious.

As we hiked up the 4,000 footer, thunderstorms began to roll through. They were still off in the distance, but approaching fast. The terrain was not easy going up the mountain, but I hiked as fast as I could. It was too late to turn back, so we had no other choice but to hike up and over the two peaks before the storm hit. In my quickness to summit Kinsman, I strained my left quad as I heaved myself up onto a large rock. There was no time to rest, so I’m now dealing with a hurt quad through what may be the rest of our hike. I guess I’ll just have to see how it feels tomorrow and assess from there.

I was sweating buckets and stressed about the storms nearby. Thunder rumbled and I felt like we were hiking into a death trap every step we took closer to the top. I know people don’t die from lightning strikes all the time, but I felt like we were hiking into a recipe for disaster. Miles needed to stop and eat, but there was no way I was hanging out on the top of a mountain during a storm. My worst nightmare. I kept hiking towards the north peak. I was struggling. Mentally, physically, in every way. Why was I forcing myself to hike on a huge mountain during a thunderstorm? It began to rain. I asked myself, what the hell I was doing all of this for? I miss home. I miss my family. I miss a lot of things. I’m tired of the constant rain and thunderstorms. I’m tired of the stress. I’m just plain tired. Mentally exhausted. Physically exhausted. I don’t feel as desperate as I did in Connecticut, I just feel drained. But, the fact is, I’m stubborn and despite how I feel, giving up is not an option. I know that in the end, all of the pain and suffering will be worth it. For years to come, the reward will be sweet. Our struggle is minuscule if you really think about it.

So, as it began to rain and the wind picked up, I struggled to hoist myself up on to the steep rock above. I tried once, twice, and found the strength on the third try. Miles caught up to me as I climbed up.

He noticed I was struggling and he asked, “Are you alright?”

I answered, “Yeah. I’m just going to keep moving.”

And even though I wasn’t alright, I knew there was only one answer to finishing today’s hike and the rest of our thru-hike: to keep moving. I know there are better days to come, but months of rain and weeks of thunderstorms will start to wear on you after awhile.

After hiking the longest two miles of downhill in my life, we arrived at the hut unscathed. How we didn’t manage to fall down the slippery rocks will remain a mystery to me. The awesome staff at the hut greeted us and allowed us to do work-for-stay. After the guests ate, we got our fair share of a delicious dinner. I ate pork, steak, rice, farfalle, and bread. I easily downed two plates and was thankful for the protein after a rough day. I could already feel the soreness in my arms and legs from all of the climbing we did today.

To earn our stay, we cleaned and organized the freezer in the basement. It took us about an hour and then we were able to set up our sleeping bags on the dining room floor. It’s raining and thundering (surprise!), so I’m happy that our strenuous hiking was rewarded with a dry night in the hut. On to the Presidential Range tomorrow! And guess what? We’re less than 100 miles from the Maine border!!!

12 thoughts on “Day 126: Beaver Brook Shelter to Lonesome Lake Hut

  1. The tough days are just about behind you, and soon you will be in your home state. Keep up the determination and focus on the pot of gold at the summit of Katahdin. Tackle the Presidents, stay safe and healthy. I hope you don’t have to endure many more storms. Counting down the days until you are with us at home! Xoxoxoxo

  2. Hi Lindsey and Miles. Even though I haven’t had much to say on your trail blog, I have thoroughly enjoyed and faithfully followed your journey from the beginning and eagerly check every day for a new post. Your story tugs at my heart and makes me wish I were younger to do exactly what you are doing. Suffice to say, that you are inspiring me to at least get out there and keep on hiking.

    You mention a couple of things that I might even be able to offer a word of advice, although I’m certainly not any kind of expert. I live in the mountain west where all my hikes begin at 4,000 feet and up. The way to keep altitude from affecting you so much is to sleep at altitude. Somehow, your body’s metabolism is able to adjust and extract oxygen more efficiently if you do that. Of course, I certainly can’t blame you for not wanting to be anywhere near the top of a mountain when one of those East Coast electric storms come rolling in. That would terrify me, too. The bonus is that when you drop altitude, you have an oxygen surplus for a while and get to feel very energetic.

    The other piece of advice is how to deal with deer flies. We have them out here, too, and they can drive you nuts, zooming around your head. It’s simple–wear something on your head, especially a hat with a brim. They’re trying to get on the top of your head. A loose-woven straw hat works best in the heat, and although a bandana or baseball cap certainly helps somewhat, a brimmed hat is waaay better. But then, who knows, maybe eastern deer flies are different than western. Those big horse flies are a different animal altogether. Deet is about the only thing I know for all the other little buggers that try to eat you.

    So…keep on trekking and Happy Trails. You have really been hustling to be so far up the AT. Love your logs and your attitude.


  3. You guys are tough. When you get to route 3/93 it is worth the trip into Lincoln if you need to get a hot meal and resupply. You can go in for a half a day, then hike up to Liberty campsite for the night, then a days hike to Zealand falls with a long lunch at Galehead Hut (they will feed you leftovers if you ask), then down to Crawford notch, and up to Mizpah Hut (great work for stay). If you jump out at Pinkham Notch, White Mountain Hostel will come and pick you up and you can slack pack from their either South or North back to Whit Mountain Hostel which is right on the trail at route 2 in Gorham. Gorham is a great town to zero and White Moutnain Hostel runs into town a couple of times a day (beware of the Gorham Vortex, don’t get stuck there).

  4. Hiking in the whites is always an adventure. You are definitely made of stong stuff! You may have to bow to Mother Nature occasionally up there! Hike on!

  5. I loved your entry……..reminds me of some tough times… the whites!…..I’ll share them with u some time…You have earned your stripes!………….Maine awaits!……..Stay strong! Sherpa……..Came to Grafton Notch…..needed a trail fix!……It’ll never leave you!

  6. Just an incredible story the two of you are sharing. Couples completing the AT together is a rare fete indeed.

  7. This seems to capture so much of the story that I will never experience; thanks for a great read and an even greater accomplishment on finishing this hard fought day. I’m sure it doesn’t feel it, but you are so very close and that drive/determination is what’s going to get you here “unscathed”

  8. Looking forward to seeing you at Pinkham Notch (where Miles’ Grampy hiked up to ski down as a college student. only about 75 years ago!) Lots of history in the Whites. Camp Songadewin trips and my brothers’ trips with Keewadin. The weather looks cool if not downright cold for Tues. We will make our fun and you will get some rest before forging on for the border. See you when we see you. Love, Mom, The Other Mom.

    1. Focus on the beauty. Beauty lies in distance and objectivity. The strength of the mountains is also in you, as is the majesty of humans striving for a worthy goal. Feel the pain, treasure the pain, but see the beauty of each other, the beauty of the present, and the beauty of the end game. And yet I bet you will always miss, even years from now, the sheer beauty of the journey. Further is the journey: hear the drumming. The dead are reborn. Shamanism. Two shamans on the trail. Your journey is inspiring many. Keep in the rhythm. Dad.

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