Leaving the Whites: days 107-110

Day 107: Garfield Shelter to Route 302, 17.5 miles
Day 108: Route 302 to Nauman Tentsite, 6.4 miles
Day 109: Nauman Tentsite to Osgood Tentsite, 14.9 miles
Day 110: Osgood Tentsite to Zeta Pass, 13.3 miles
Total AT miles hiked: 1865.7
AT miles left: 310.8

We woke up excited for another day in the White Mountains, especially since the weather forecast was favorable. We continued a steep downhill climb, then immediately started heading uphill again towards the summit of South Twin. From there most of our climbing was over for the day, and we rolled along the rocky trail, eventually making it to Zealand Hut. We stopped for a snack, and I saw my old packboard laying against the wall. I worked in the hut system one season five years ago (when Garrett and I first met). The hut “croo” uses packboards to hike all of the fresh food to the hut twice a week. A croo member is given a packboard to use for the season, and at the end it is customary for him or her to sign it. I was excited to see my name on the board, it made me feel still connected to that time in my life.

We couldn’t linger long, as we had more miles to make it to Route 302, where we were meeting our friend James. James was a fellow caretaker with Garrett, and lives with Joe, another caretaker. Both of them have leadership positions with the AMC now, and our the “bosses” of the caretaking department. James picked us up on his way back from work, and we made it back to the house where we had a BBQ. It was great to be among friends, and a very relaxing way to spend the evening!

The next morning Joe had to get off to work, but we took James out to breakfast. He then drove us to run some errands, and then it was back to the trail a bit before noon. We climbed up to the Webster Cliffs where we had a Mediterranean lunch, then meandered our way over Mt. Webster and Mt. Jackson. I love the hike from Mt. Jackson to Mizpah Hut & Nauman Tentsite, on a clear day you get a great view of the Presidential Range. We camped at the Tentsite next to Mizpah, and I hopped in to introduce myself to the croo and nose around the improvements they’ve made to the building since I left. The tentsite was crowded that night, with tents being set up like sardines. As much as I love the Whites, they are crowded in mid-July!

We got an early start the next morning, and quickly climbed up Mt. Pierce. We had another pretty day, and enjoyed the hike up to Mt.Washington. The summit was in and out of the clouds per usual, but we still had good views. From there we traversed the rugged Northern Presidentials, and took an afternoon break at Madison Hut. There, Garrett ran into JP, a current croo member that he’d worked with in the past at the Randolph Mountain Club. JP was excited to see him, and told us we were welcome to stay the night at the hut. If it weren’t so early in the day we would have been tempted, but we wanted to cover the next three miles up and over Mt. Madison and down the particularly steep Osgood Trail. We knew they’d be slow miles, and we’d be happy to have them over with. By the time we made it to the Osgood Tentsite a couple hours later, we were ready to call it a day.

The next morning we hiked an easy 4.7 miles to Pinkham Notch Visitors Center, and caught breakfast 20 minutes before it ended. Breakfast here was one of our favorite meals when we were AMC employees, and we thoroughly enjoyed it as thru-hikers! We spent nearly three hours there, and left the notch a little later than we anticipated. We made the steep climb over the Wildcats, and down into Carter Notch. From there it was another climb over Carter Dome, and then Mt. Height. Once we made it to Zeta Pass, we were ready to camp and found a serene camping spot. Tomorrow we hike out of the White Mountains!