Since the beginning of the trip, everyone has been talking up the Whites--"just wait til you get to New Hampshire, it's gonna be harder than anything!," "you might not make it over those mountains," "they're the best and the worst and the toughest and the most beautiful," etc. It turns out that the hundreds upon hundreds of miles we've accrued had only spoiled us, and the Whites were indeed what everyone predicted them to be. We couldn't crank out our usual miles or pace because of the difficulty of terrain and elevation changes, but they were indeed gorgeous. And for the most part, we had great weather!
Cannon, from Franconia Ridge
And here is the famous Franconia Ridge trail! We had a clear, cool, tourist-filled day.
The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) maintains the White Mountain National Forest part of the trail, including the fancy-schmancy high mountain huts, which are essentially alpine lodges. The huts provide an escape from technology in a sense. They have bunks, composting toilets, potable water, and delicious meals, provided by the "croo" of workers. Thru-hikers, if they arrive at the right time of day, can work for stay, doing chores in exchange for delicious leftover food and dry, warm places to sleep! Our buds Bones and Breakfast joined us on this lovely hike up the Presidential Range, all above tree line, on our way to try out work for stay at the Lakes of the Clouds hut.
We spent most of this evening huddled in a corner so we wouldn't disturb the 96 guests with our stink. We waited until after they ate their meals to devour the leftovers, so we hid to keep ourselves from staring at their food. One woman we befriended the night before was so worried about our nourishment that she tried to sneak us some food. It was a nice gesture, but if you ever have the chance to stay in a hut, rest assured the thru hikers are well fed.
We didn't actually take a summit picture on Mt. Washington as tradition usually prescribes because a crowd of Boy Scouts was overwhelming us, so here's Breakfast and Bones' modest photo instead:
It was warm. Clearly. We had a really good view and could see all the way down into the valley, as you can see in this picture.
(We dress smarter)
Anyway, we made it through the Whites, despite everyone's warnings, and now we're in Maine! Cold, wet, and triumphant, on the way to our final Katahdin summit on August 15th (hopefully)!
We've been stumbling a lot thanks to slippery rocks, worn out shoes, and simply being tired. Considering Mt Washington was the highest peak til Katahdin, it only makes sense that we will continue to stumble downhill until we get there. We'll do our best to stay upright, but cannot make any promises.