Day 108: Etna, NH to Hexacuba

Trip Start Mar 15, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2010

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Flag of United States  , New Hampshire
Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hey y'all!
So my first full day past VT and guess what? It didn't rain.  Unfortunately we haven't yet totally eliminated the mud problem, but my acrobatic jumping, dodging, and balancing skills kept my feet mud-free!

Woke up to the alarm this morning and got to go in to a real bathroom and also watch the weather channel for a few moments. Flatlander and I jumped into the car a little after seven and Karen drove me to the trailhead and Flatlander a little further up so he could slackpack.

The morning was crisp, to the point that if you weren't walking it was cold. As a hiker that is just pure gold, being able to hike on level terrain and even uphill slightly without sweating has been unimaginable for the past month at least. (excluding backsweat which happens regardless of temperature)

The morning goes really well, a bit of level walking to warm up but then, uh oh I saw a field coming up and figured "there goes my first day of dry shoes." but someone had actually bush-hogged the trail so my shoes just got a little damp on the outside. It's the little
things :)

Before lunch I have a 1000 ft climb up Moose Mtn and a 1500 ft climb up to Holts Ledge. Someone was really on the ball at the Moose Mtn shelter and had left a copy of Benton MacKaye's Appalachian Trail proposal from 1920 or so. I extended my break to read all 9 pages. The idea was brilliant and his thoughts on society in general were really
in line with my own. I owe at least a part of my misery to the guy too though, so it's not all happy thoughts...

Up at Holts Ledges I eat lunch. Just a great view, you can see for probably 50 mi with the big afternoon mtn right in the foreground. Also I hear this screeching during lunch so I go look over the cliff and there is a peregrine falcon flying around and then swooping through the valley at another one! These birds are endangered and it turns out they are nesting at the ledges as I learn a little but further on. (big orange signs saying it'll set you back 10,000 if you get caught eating lunch anywhere near the nesting site, etc)

Right after lunch I got to tiptoe around some flooding due to beaver activity, and I heard the big tail whack but didn't see anything. I'm pretty sure they are really hard to spot.  The big part of the day was the 2500 ft climb up Smarts Mtn.  Fortunately the climb has a flat section halfway up along a ridge, so you can catch your breath and regain your legs before the final push. At the top there is an old firewardens cabin and firetower. The cabin is now an AT shelter but I just used it to get out of the wind which was quite chilly. 

The view from atop the firetower makes the climb all worthwhile. You can see clear back to the Green Mtns in VT and over to Mt Moosilauke in the Whites looking ahead along with other peaks stretching to the horizon. To the north there is a little rainshower going on and the clouds everywhere create a patchwork of shadows along the ridges and valleys. What an amazing place.  Spend a bit of time up top to relax and chat with Sandpiper and Kite an older couple that started in Harpers Ferry. Noobies with only 700 miles under their belts!

The last five miles are easy, gradual downhill and then short up and back down. I'm staying at the Hexacuba Shelter which is laid out in a hexagonal floor plan. Interesting but not always the best way to accomodate a bunch of people laying down. Of course once again it's just me in the shelter, still existing in a total thru-hiker black hole. A southbounder is tented out nearby but as I read in the shelter log and hear her coughing, she's sick... I'll hope to not catch it,
but still say hello in the morning.

Crawling into a dry warm sleeping bag on a chilly night is pure bliss. Of course getting out of it in the morning will be equally challenging :)

Hopefully everyone is doing well. Uncle Marko thanks for the comment, if you all need something else to do you might look into canoeing for a day or something on the Buffalo National River just down into Arkansas. Just a thought, I was there in the fall and thought it was
Alrighty good night!
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ma on

Ok, tonight we are "pretending" to be camping. I made a fire after dinner, the pool lights are on and hot chocolate brewing (it cooled down to 85 today and is only 70 tonight! bliss after last week). Stephen bought a harmonica and it's great! Gregg is playing Dad's new acoustic guitar and Andrea keeps trying to get them to switch to GaGa songs!! She can sing anything tho. Sooo, wishing you were here too.
Sounds like you had a reasonable day and that sure makes mama happy (and when mama's not happy nobody's happy?!! haha, old saying).
Andrea and I had an eye doc. appt today and it was hilarious...her first southern medical experience I think. She made comments all the way home and the stories at dinner were priceless! She thinks the eye doc was also trying to set her up with his son or whatever. Then we had the oil changed on her car at the dealership and that was another experience. When you drink coffee at Starbucks here and go to the symphony and hang out around Vanderbilt you forget how southern it can be. Soooo today was that day. Very fun. She is heading up to MI for the holiday week-end , the annual party at Armands house and she needs to check out if anything has changed since she left! (ahem, most likely the male category). If she reads this she'll kill me hahahaha...but she'll forgive me! We are having a's so fun to have her back home! We are all so excited to have a road trip next month...hey tonight is next month!! Wow, you are now starting a new month on the trail too...not just the new state. Dad, Mo and Eva walked their 3 miles this morning. Andrea and I walked around the mall?! I did swim!
Miss you. I'm sure Dad will catch up tomorrow...he has been swamped again at work. Will be nice to have the long week-end.
Stay safe...where the deer and the antelope play (oh give me a home?! remember me singing that driving down flickinger hill every day when we'd pass the buffalo and you would all holler "stop"...but the words ARE amazing "where never is heard a discouraging word'! how profound is THAT!
Ok, good night...hope you are sleeping comfortably and you give all new meaning to bugs biting (tho Helen and I did get bed bugs that time in NYC and I still have the t-shirt she found for me that says "nite, nite, don't let the bugs bite"....I think I'd take a mosquito bite over a bed bug any day.
Oh, and as soon as I told Andrea the other day that you were on the green at Dartmouth college she said "I hope he took a shower cuz there will prolly be all kinds of gorgeous females hanging around"...whoops! I bet not huh? Oh well, maybe a visit later when you are all cleaned up?! haha
Oh one more thing. When we were up in MI everyone was at Mark and Yvies and your hiking came up and the 'Donner" name and I said "it creeps me out but I remember there is a better translation for it in German"...Marie popped up from playing house with Madeline and said "yes, in German it means THUNDER" Thank you Marie!! She went on remembering every detail from our visit with you at Spring BReak in the Smokies. So, please say the name with your best German accent ok!!???
You would think I'd run out of things to say on the phone and in texts but I still manage a full page here hahaha...hope you have enough Iphone charge to read it.

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