Moose Mountain Shelter to tenting at mile 1,781.8 – 27.7 miles
I leave the shelter at 5:10 AM, but need to get water only 100 yards up the trail. I hate doing this in the morning because it feels like a delay, but sometimes there is not a source at the shelter to do it in the evening. This stream is difficult to scoop water from, so I drop my pack and stomp downhill through the brush to find adequate flow. I finally restart about 5:30 AM.
My pack is uncomfortable from the start. It is slow going with the terrain too. About six miles in, about 9 AM, there is a sign on the trail for Bill Ackerly, The Ice Cream Man, for free ice cream and an arrow pointing to his house across the street. Amazingly, I actually need to think about stopping for free ice cream. I know I need a big day, but the house is less than 50 yards away and I can use a break already and eat something cold.
I walk over and another hiker named Sideshow tells me Bill just left. He shows me to the screened in porch with the freezer. He buys me a Coke too. Sideshow, from Cecil County, MD, started from Pen Mar Park on March 28, the same day I started from Springer! Sideshow and I leave here together and hike a few miles together before he stops for a ‘break’.
I know the day’s going to be tough because of my pack weight, but I feel like I get my butt kicked from 5:10 AM to 3 PM with the exception of 9 – 9:30 when I am eating free ice cream and enjoying a cold Coke.
The climbs kick my butt, especially the climb to the fire tower atop Smarts Mountain. The climb is so long and steep that when I get to the top, I resist just sitting down and falling asleep.
One thing I dread about these mountain climbs is knowing what’s coming. I hate seeing a big, steep mountain the next one over, knowing that the trail is taking me to the top of it. [I don’t constantly refer to my guide book the way others do. I rarely know names of mountains.]
The temperature, into the 80s, also makes for a hard day. It is nearly 4 PM when I pass Hexacube Shelter and I’ve only done about 18 miles. (Normally, I’ve finished 18-20 miles by noon.) I keep pushing on past the shelter. Finally, after going over Mt. Cube, the terrain gets ‘walkable’ and I cruise until 7 PM and finish the day with decent mileage.
At about 5:30 PM, I see a smaller black bear (my third) on the trail about 20 yards ahead. As I move my hands to my camera, it runs away.
New Hampshire is pretty awesome and definitely the toughest yet.