Tenting to tenting at mile 1,828.2 miles – 24.0 miles
New Hampshire is kicking my butt. I knew this area was going to be tough, but I thought I’d be doing better than this. I hike from 5 AM to 7:45 PM and only cover 24 miles.
This morning as I step across a narrow stream, my right foot slips off a rock and I instinctively try to catch myself with my left foot, but it slips. I fall hard, directly on my left shoulder, as my left knee glances off a rock. I land with my nose literally to the ground.
A few moments pass before I slowly pull myself to an upright position and I hesitantly, nervously reach my right hand to my left collarbone. I’m nervous I could have really hurt myself. The way I land on my shoulder and carrying a full pack, is a perfect way to break my clavicle. Thankfully, I think I’m good, just a little stunned by such a hard fall. My knee will definitely be tight tomorrow or maybe even a few days. My shoulder will be sore too because I don’t have much muscle left in my shoulder at this point of the trek.
The climb up to Franconia Ridge is long and constant, but the ridge is awesome. Not much of a view in the clouds, as the light wind slowly blows the clouds into the ridge, providing zero visibility and then partially clearing them out for a brief, partial view. This is the first time there’s been miles of hiking above treeline.
I pass a southbound day hiking French Canadian group of about 20 kids and adults, led by a woman, who has a radio to stay in touch with the person bringing up the rear of the strung out group. As I near the end of the group, a woman stops me to say something. “Do you speak French” (maybe it’s my European cycling cap). I say, “No.” She proceeds to tell me that the woman in the front had radioed to her “check out [my] legs.” They like my tan, lean, muscular legs in my “shorty” shorts.
She then has me repeat after her, “Thank you for my muscle [in French],” to speak into the radio to the lead woman. I do that, (though I think I may have said ‘mole’ (stupid American)) and the small group gathered around has a good laugh before I quickly move on.
I have “planned” two days of food, but I have divided it into three days with some extra food I have. I’m going to have to consume fewer calories and hike bigger miles. That’s not a good combination, but that’s the predicament. Because of my lower mileage in the Whites, I’ll need an extra day at this pace to get to my mail drop.
It’s about quarter of 7 PM when I am on another stretch above treeline and need to get to a lower elevation to find a place to tent. Just over the summit, barely any drop in elevation, the mountain brush and about seven-foot tall trees appear. I promptly find a spot in the dense growth to pitch my tent. It’s tight, a perfect spot if I had a small one-man tent. I’m able to get setup enough to give enough coverage should it rain. I don’t know if this is considered tenting above treeline (something hikers are not supposed to do in the White Mountains), but it’s pretty darn close.