Return to the Whites: days 103-106

Day 103: Hexacuba Shelter to Jeffers Brook Shelter, 15.8 miles 
Day 104: Jeffers Brook Shelter to Lincoln, 8.3 miles
Day 105: Lincoln to Kinsman Pond Shelter, 11.5 miles
Day 106: Kinsman Pond Shelter to Garfield Shelter, 15 miles
Total AT miles hiked: 1826.9
AT miles left: 362.9 miles

It poured so hard the night we stayed at Hexacuba Shelter, that the next morning a dry drain filled with water and a gushing stream was created. By seven the rain had subsided and the sun started poking out. We climbed rocky Mt. Cube, poked out above the undercast, and then headed back into the woods for a rolling morning. On the way down we ran into a woman who gave us oreos, and then a few miles later we saw Carl & Wilma. Carl is known as the “omelette guy.” And while he doesn’t quite make omelettes to order, we had no complaints about our eggs scrambled with ham, cheese, and veggies. He asked me if I wanted four, five, or six eggs, and told me I could have pancakes, too! I settled on three eggs and a muffin, but appreciated his enthusiasm for feeding hungry hikers. While I ate my eggs, Wilma (an American boxer) rested her head in my lap and looked up at me with her big brown eyes, hoping a few crumbs would fall (they didn’t). 

From there it was more rolling trail, with a quick climb up small Mt. Mist, then into Jeffers Brook Shelter. Garrett took the opportunity to rinse off in the brook, and then we settled ourselves into the shelter. There was a severe thunderstorm warning all afternoon into the evening, but we just heard thunder rumbling in the distance and it rained softly overnight.

The next morning we hiked up Mt. Moosilauke, the first peak in the White Mountain National Forest that an AT hikers hits as they hike north. I’ve only climbed it once before, and it was foggy with no views, but this time we could see Franconia Ridge and the Presidential Range. We spent a little time on the summit, then hurried along to get down the steep Beaver Brook trail before the afternoon rain arrived. Just as we arrived at the parking lot, it started raining. We asked two ladies coming out of the woods for a ride into Lincoln, and they happily agreed to bring us in. We found a hotel room in the middle of town, which made resuppling for the next few days easy. Severe thunderstorms passed through the rest of the day, and we were very pleased to be inside and dry.

The next day we planed to only go 11.5 miles, so we got a later start out of town. The rain had disappeared, and the sun was shining. We had a steep climb out of Kinsman Notch, and trudged through muddy trail for the majority of the hike. The last few miles we climbed up and over South and North Twin mountains, then dropped down to Kinsman Pond Shelter. There were only a few other hikers there that night, so we had plenty of space to spread out. 

Atop of South Twin

We started out the next morning with a slow decent to Franconia Notch. I just felt like was starting to hit my White Mountain stride, when I tripped over a root and smashed my face into another thick root sticking straight out of the ground. For a minute I thought I broke my nose, but fortunately the fall only caused a bloody nose (and by later that day, a black eye). The mountains have been hard on me lately. I resolved to be more careful, and we continued on our way.

Despite the rocky start to the morning, the rest of the day went well with a classic White Mountain climb up the Liberty Springs Trail to Franconia Ridge. Garrett worked as a caretaker for four year in these mountains, and along the way he likes to point out all the trail work he had done. He should be proud to see that it is still standing after all these years, and working as he intended it to.

The ridge was gorgeous as always on a sunny day, and despite the crowds of people, we briefly enjoyed the summits of Little Haystack, Lincoln, and Lafayette mountains. We dropped down from the ridge, then finished our final climb of the day up Mount Garfield. After another steep downhill, we finally made it to the shelter. Garrett helped build this shelter about six years ago, and it still looks brand new. Unlike the shelter at Kinsman Pond, this one filled up. The White Mountains are popular year round, especially in the summer. All the sudden the trail is full of day hikers and backpackers out for a few days. We’re glad that people are out enjoying the great outdoors, but we’re starting to crave a bit of quiet again!