We started hiking down the other side, and the first bit of the descent was fairly chill. We crossed paths with Camino Steve, Buttcheeks, Faceplant, Double Orca, Super, Tadpole, and Survivor all going south, slack packing back to the hostel. We stopped for a snack break at the Beaver Brook hostel to rest up and energize before beginning the infamous descent.
The final mile and a half of the Moosilauke descent is one of the most notorious sections of the AT in New Hampshire, known for being incredibly steep and potentially slippery and very dangerous. Luckily, it had been dry for a while as we were attempting, so the slippery bit wasn’t much of a factor. It was still insanely steep, and took a couple hours of slowly lowering ourselves off rocks and some steps built into them. I definitely didn’t think it was quite as scary as everyone had made it out to be, but it would have been sketchy as hell after a rain. It was definitely still quite nerve wracking and my legs were certainly a bit shaky by the time we finally reached the bottom.
The descent followed the steeply cascading Beaver Brook Falls for about 1.5 miles
After lunch is when the mood of the day suddenly changed. I was not anticipating the ruggedness of the trail in the second half of the day. Once we crossed the road at Kinsman Notch, we immediately started climbing steeply up. I had been expecting this, knowing there was about a mile of steep climbing to do, but had not been expecting the difficultly to continue on through the rest of the day. I had been anticipating terrain similar to our slack packing day yesterday, but this was definitely not the case. The trail continuously alternated between climbing steeply up or down, over large boulders and tangles of roots, causing me to contort my body in strange ways to get up and over in some places. On top of this, I started feeling a weird twinge in my left knee. I suspect it was just rejecting what it had been put through today, and I’m hoping it’ll get better after some rest in town tomorrow. But it just sucked, and I was moving along pretty slowly and feeling a bit sorry for myself.
I caught up to Gummies at the wooded summit of Mount Wolf and we began picking our way down together. I listened to podcasts to distract myself from my misery, just wanting to get to camp. The sky began clouding over, and about a half mile or so before camp the forecasted rain finally arrived. It started slow, and we were so close to camp that I refused to stop and put my rain jacket on. We were in dense forest, which prevented most of the rain drops from reaching me, but we briefly came out into an open area of powerlines, and the cold wind whipped my bare arms with droplets. Back in the forest, it suddenly became extremely dark. I pressed on, trying to ignore everything but getting to camp. The rain kept coming down harder. By the time we finally made it to the shelter, it was downright pouring.