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My name is Lori. In August, 2014, I plan to hike the Camino de Santiago trail. Feel free to join me on my adventure by following me on this blog.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I am in the Whites of New Hampshire! In the first month of the trail, I almost wanted to quit because of the horror stories I was hearing about "The Whites". I have been a little terrified about them ever since.
Here's what the deal is... The whites are full of very tall mountains that are tough to climb. Much of the mountains are above tree line, putting hikers very exposed to the elements. The weather in the whites can be extreme, making it very dangerous to hike. People get injured or even killed in the Whites every year.
The shelters in the Whites can be spaced far apart at times, making camping options tight. Many of the shelters have an $8 fee to stay. In addition to shelters, there are huts run by the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club). These huts are little cabins in the middle of the woods with a bunk room, kitchen, and dining room. Guests at the huts pay $80-$125 per night. Each hut has the option of taking in two thru hikers per night for a work-for-stay. The hikers do chores, or help the small crew in some way in exchange for a place to sleep on the dining floor.
There have been stories about huts turning away hikers in bad weather or late at night. Stealth camping is common in the whites, but can also be difficult, or mean the hiker has to hike several miles off the AT to get to a spot.
So, now you see why I have been a little anxious, yes?

To kick off my hike through the Whites, I stayed at the Hikers Welcome Hostel at the base of Mt. Moosilauke. It was not as nice as I had hoped. I was really spoiled at Dave's home, and this hostel was a bit dirty for my liking. However, after I sat down with some good food from the nearby market and let myself relax, I had a great time. There were four hill-hippies (hillbilly hippies) all watching Jeopardy. These men were screaming out answers after every question, and they knew all the answers. It was amazing! Baltimore Jack was the quickest in the group. I had read many books that mentioned Baltimore Jack, but I never knew he was so intelligent. It was so entertaining!

The hike up and over Moosilauke went well, but we were exhausted after 10 miles. The next day was even tougher. Mt. Kinsman was a vertical climb. It was a long stretch of hand over hand rock scaling. This was the toughest climb I have ever done, and I know there is more to come. I couldn't even stop to take a picture on the way up because I needed both hands to hold on. This is what it looked like when I was near the top looking down.

This difficult climb was part of a long 17.5 mile day where we hiked our last mile in the dark. Our destination was a parking area where we could get picked up to go to a motel.
Three miles before this destination, we came to our first hut, Lonesome Lake Hut. It was 6:30. We were curious, so we asked what our options were as hikers to stay there. They already had their two thru hiker work-for-stays. There was no discount and we would have to pay $100 each to stay. (I was with Sparky) Paying $100 to stay in a bunkhouse with a bunch of other people did not entice us. I'm glad we had a back-up plan only three more miles away.
As we started walking down the path around the hut, I was startled to see a very large bear sitting in the bushes eating some berries. I pointed it out to Sparky and the two hikers on the balcony just above the bear come over to take a peek. I quickly posed to get a picture of me with the bear. Other guests started coming out to see, and I told Sparky we better leave before it gets scared down our way. No sooner did I say this, than the hut workers came out banging pots and pans together, sending the bear running right for us! It had to be about 400 lbs. I screamed and the bear slowed down looking for another route. I yelled to the hut workers to let us get down the trail a bit before sending it our way. They gave us about a ten foot head start. The bear went off the trail, into the woods, but went the same direction as we did. Needless to say, we hiked our last miles pretty fast.
First impression of the AMC huts: turned away for work-for-stay, no discount offered, and then they chased us off with a bear. Not good! Luckily, we had better experiences later.
We hiked our first presidential mountain, Mt. Lincoln, along with Franconia ridge. It was another perfect weather day!

We didn't check out Greenleaf Hut because it was a mile off trail. We stopped short of the shelter this night because it was late and we were tired. We weren't alone though in our stealth camping site. Many thru hikers have the same "secret list" of stealth sites along the whites.
Yesterday, we had another difficult day hiking Garfield Ridge and South Twin Mountain. We stopped in at Galehead Hut, where I bought some soup and cookies for lunch. This is what a typical bunk room looks like at the huts:

and here is a dining room:

We made it to Zealand Falls Hut by 5 pm. We had planned to go 5 more miles that day, but I was tired. I asked, and we were lucky to score a work-for-stay. I cleaned up the stock room while Sparky cleaned trash around the back of the hut. They fed us dinner, and we got to sleep on the dining room floor. They also fed us pancakes before we left the next morning. It was a fun experience.

Today we had a short day and met our friend Zig Zag at Crawford notch. He and his wife, Wing Wing hiked the trail until around Damascus. Actually, the whole neighborhood took care of us. Zig Zag's hot water is off due to some remodeling. One of the neighbors let us shower and do laundry at her house. A different neighbor had us and some other neighbors over for a big dinner. It's been a great day, and I'm ready to sleep now, and head back to the trail tomorrow. While we have such great weather, we don't want to miss a good hiking day.


  1. Prayers and good vibes coming your way for safety through these rough areas!!! And of course you continue to amaze me! I'm glad you and Sparky are hiking together again. It is so fitting that you began your hike together and now will end it at Katahdin together! Keep up the good work and I'll see you soon...I can't believe you only have one more month to go!!!
    Love Ya Tons

  2. It was great speaking to you at this point of time on the phone while you were on the trail. It's obvious to me that there are so many more great stories that you are having as you hike, of which you can't just yet write or Blog of, a good reason to consider that book thing after returning home. One such story I can't resist briefly mentioning while you were on this particular portion of the trail of which you have just spoke of. In addition to these very scary and strenuous hikes up-hill, are the sections also where you have to go down-hill. This one in particular is where you had to descend a waterfall. Not just along or by the waterfall, but down through the middle of the waterfall!!. Noting you said it wasn't a rushing river thing, but had water falling and flowing through it. This leaving you to descend through wet, slippery, un-stable rocks. Doing some of it on your "backside" as you went down it. Leads me to tell you you are doing great, keep safe and keep your bloomers dry. Love you, Dad