AT NH Day 8: A Rather Uneventful Day

Garfield Ridge Campsite – Maine Central Railroad
17.1 miles
This morning was a bit rough. After the kids who were camped wall to wall with our tent finally quieted down, someone came into camp late and started setting up their stuff right beside us. It was almost 11pm when they finally finished, and I also felt like I just generally didn’t sleep well because it was a blustery night and I kept thinking the tent was going to collapse due to the sketchy pitch on the wooden platform. Needless to say, I was going to bit sleepy getting up.

Breakfast break view

We packed up our stuff, retrieved our food from the bear box, and set off. Immediately, we had to finish the descent off Mount Garfield, which started with a sketchy scramble down a steep rocky waterfall. It didn’t last long though and then the climb became a lot more manageable. After the initial descent, the trail wound up and down a bit but was relatively gentle. We ate breakfast with views of the rolling green mountains, and not long after stopped into Galehead Hut, where most of the hikers we’ve been hiking around had congregated. The huts are kind of weird because they charge like 100 dollars for a bunk so they’re pretty elite, but we can at least use the toilets and fill up our water bottles from the tap, which is pretty awesome.


Inside Galehead Hut

It was here that we received some bad news. Monday, the day that we (and most of the other hikers) were planning to summit Mount Washington, was forecasted to be a complete washout. 100% chance of rain, all day long. As we hiked out, we began brain storming alternative ideas. Right after leaving the hut, we had to steeply climb up to the summit of South Twin. It honestly wasn’t that bad at all, very steep, but pretty nontechnical. Just more climbing up the big stone stairmaster. I definitely feel like I’m getting stronger on the uphills, which is nice.

Gummies heading down from South Twin

The summit was super cold and windy, with views covered by shifting clouds again. We had hoped to get cell service to formulate a plan for Washington and the weather, but it was too weak to actually do much of anything. The rest of today’s hiking looked fairly simple, and we thought we could possibly push a bigger day and then summit Washington tomorrow, hopefully getting a ride down into town from someone once we reached the top. We made that our tentative plan and pushed up.

After a very short steep descent off the mountain, the trail became wonderfully gentle for quite a while. It was still quite rooty and rocky in places, but most of it was gradually graded and there were no technical scrambles. We were making great time. We had a quick lunch trailside and kept pushing, keeping our hopes of a bigger day alive. There was eventually a rather steep descent to the Zealand Hut, but it wasn’t too long and didn’t slow us up too much. We stopped in at the hut to use the toilets and water again, and found almost all of the hikers gathered there again. I think the thru hikers get free soup at the huts, so most of them have been taking advantage of that. There were a few stealth camping spots we had our eyes on, so we quickly headed out, hoping we could grab them before anyone else might get there.

The gray jays want our snacks

The trail leaving the hut was blessedly flat and smooth. It felt like being on the PCT again, and there were even some great mountain views for a while. Double Orca quickly caught up to us and passed us, but we caught her again a bit later and ended up hiking the rest of the day with her. That was a lot of fun, as it was the first time we’ve actually hiked with anyone else on this trip, other than each other. The trail stayed mostly super chill for the rest of the day, except for a steep descent for less than a mile at the end, which was super helpful.

We ended up at a nice stealth spot beside a rushing creek and some railroad tracks, and we’re camped with two SOBO thru hikers, Barefoot and Baby Rock. We had a nice time all eating dinner together, and as we were getting ready for bed, Baby Rock even serenaded us on his ukelele a little bit. Tomorrow there’s only 13 miles to the summit of Mount Washington, which should be doable. Hopefully next time I’m writing I will be safely in town to shelter from the oncoming storm.

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