Spoiler alert: we’re writing this from Rangeley, Maine. We wanted to wait until we crossed the state line to make this post….and then cell service disappeared for 60 miles….
Sufficed to say, the White Mountains of New Hampshire delivered in terms of beauty and difficulty. We climbed up above tree line for the first time since the Smoky Mtns, and our daily mileage plummeted from easy 15-18 mile days to tough 10-12 mile days. Luckily, the weather held and we got some amazing views. The Whites are dotted with “huts” managed by the Appalachian Mtn Club (AMC). Paying visitors sleep in bunks and are fed meals; thru-hikers can sometimes “work for stay” or pay $15 to sleep on the floor. Otherwise, tent spots were rare amongst the rocks. Sometimes we felt like second-class citizens amongst the day-hikers and weekenders. Sometimes we felt like we were on top of the enchanted, magical world. Sometimes our knees just hurt.
The tough conditions coupled with the fatigue of 1800-1900 miles meant we started to “feel it.” Some friends sustained injuries. Some wrestled with a “so close and yet so far” mentality that made “The End”seem forever away. Even The Mighty Mya had a long hard day negotiating the Presidential Traverse (8 miles above treeline on a hot, humid day) so we took a day off by a river to let us all rest. And then kept climbing up and over ridges the next day.
But the allure of Maine. The promise of Katahdin! As we passed through the Wildcats, up and over the Carters; our final goal came into focus. State 14/14. The final stretch on the horizon: the final 280 miles. Maine! We’re coming for you…..