July 20, 2013
Today’s mileage: 17.4
Total mileage: 1832.9
A big storm rolled through last night and although it disrupted our sleep, we still managed to get an early start. We got to start off our day with a hike across Franconia Ridge. We both agreed that this was the best hiking of the trip so far. Once we got to the top of Little Haystack, we hiked along the exposed ridge for a few miles. Even though it was cloudy this morning, we still had views for miles of the Whites. We could even see Mt. Washington, although the summit was cloud-covered all day. It was quite windy in some spots, which put me off balance a few times. Really, Franconia Ridge was just so cool. It’s amazing to be high above everything else like that. There’s no other feeling like it. Up on the ridge, we climbed up Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Lafayette. I definitely want to come back and hike that section again.
As we went below tree line, it rained a bit, but no major rain like I was expecting. We had a short, but steep climb up Mt. Garfield where we had another amazing view of the hundreds of mountains in the Whites and a look back on Franconia Ridge. On the way down, there was a short, but super steep section that was basically a waterfall. We had to be very careful about our footing today with all of the wet rocks. Both of us fell once today. We felt lucky that we had good weather for our hike on the exposed ridge. With the weather we’ve had lately, I worried about how we would fare up there. Today was our lucky day.
We took a break at Galehead Hut, where they gave us free cookies. We ate under the covered porch with the several people that were staying at the hut tonight. Our last big climb of the day was up South Twin Mountain. It was another steep climb, but we were at the top in less than a mile. It rained again on our way up and was heavy at times. I put my raincoat on as we neared the summit, knowing it would be windier at the summit. We were encircled in a cloud at the top and we quickly descended down to get out of the wind.
This was the first day of our entire thru-hike when we didn’t know exactly where we would be sleeping tonight. We had heard that there would be severe thunderstorms today, so we decided to just see how far we could go before the storms. They never came, so we decided to do a big day and push to Zealand Falls Hut. Unfortunately, we arrived too late and they had already taken four other thru-hikers for work-for-stay. They let us eat a turkey dinner there and we filled up on water before finding a lone camp spot about a quarter of a mile past the shelter.
It’s late and we’re super tired. I never thought that we would do a 17 mile day in the Whites, but we did it and I’m happy that we did. Today was full of beauty and sun and mountains. A perfect combination.