Day 111: Lincoln, NH to Zealand Falls

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

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Flag of United States  , New Hampshire
Saturday, July 3, 2010

Spending the night by some waterfalls and a river so figured we'd go nautical. Loong day today that really tested my resolve but I'm here in one piece, ready for some recuperative sleep.

So staying in town meant I had to get a shuttle back to the trail, and since the guy was on another run he didn't pick me up until 8. This is very late to begin the day by the way! Because I didn't want to walk the 0.8 from the normal trailhead back to the AT, I had him drop me off on the side of I-93 where it runs through Franconia Notch. Never walked along an expressway before! But this allowed me to cut down the embankment and start my hike at the early hour of 8:20. Ouch.

What was even more ouch was the first 3 mi is 2500 ft up. How's that for a morning cup o Joe?!
At the top of the climb is a pay tentsite with caretaker so I stopped and chatted with the guy, who had thruhiked in '05. I got some info about the trail, filled up water at the spring (they don't charge forthat) and then headed up to the famed Franconia Ridge.

After climbing up and over rocks for the last two days this ridgewalk was super. The first couple miles were in the pines and just a bit of mud to deal with, otherwise level and mostly rock free. Hooray!  Then the trail rises above treeline and for about 4 miles it's just spectacular views on both sides of the trail over at the other mtns and the valleys below. The trail is more rocky here but not the kind that impedes your progress. In fact I must admit I was flying over this ridgeline trying to make up for the late start. Many tourists up and about for the weekend. They were good about moving over to let me by and most didn't ask too many questions.

Did see a couple ridgerunners and one , after talking to me for a minute, chided me for going so fast through the Whites. Yeah they are great and the views rock but I've been above treeline many times in my life. I think a lot of people from around here also think the rest of the trail sucks. Not true, it's just a bit more challenging here and some stretches with more views since treeline is at lower altitude.Franconia Ridge includes Mt Lincoln and Lafayette both of which are
above 5000 ft. I haven't been up at that level since southern VA! I do take a short snack break around noon up on Lafayette and chat with some SOBOs.

Then you descend down a thousand ft and back up 1000 to Mt Garfield, a more or less easy climb that everyone was really complaining about.  It's amazing everyone has a completely different opinion on just above every inch of trail. Yet despite knowing this I continue to ask
everyone what the trail is like ahead etc.

After lunch I pass by the Galehead Hut and go inside to get free well water! It's really nice in there but definitely not worth 100 dollars a night for a bunk. The huts in Germany cost 20 and they served cold beer! (so you might end up paying the same thing on a good night!!)  Quick 1500 ft climb up from there over South Twin Mtn and then easy trail down into Zealand Falls Hut. I arrived at 8 and was going to do work for stay (you do some work for the crew and in exchange get to sleep inside free on the floor and eat breakfast.) but they said they already had their two slots filled by other thruhikers. Therefore I am out in the woods camping in what I believe is a legal location but there are so many rules you can't be too sure.

Weather's been great it's just the terrain is so tough going. Spend 12 hrs on the trail to do 20 miles. This feels like half my normal pace.  As the miles go by I realize too how ready I am to be finished with this whole thing. Everything hurts and emotionally I'm spent. I feel like everyday I leave everything I've got out on the trail. I'm no longer interested in answering peoples questions. I just view them as more obstacles to slow me down.  Maybe this is natural when you've been doing the same thing for 10-12 hrs a day for nearly 4 months. Yikes.

Well I'm exhausted so that's it. Hope everyone is well. Just imagine, in another month you can look at the hundreds of pictures I'll be putting online.  Been hearing this wierd banging noise for a while and just realized it must be fireworks. Just another day to a hiker but hopefully you all
will be having nice bbqs and family time. I'll be whistling John Philip Sousa along the trail.
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Yvie on

Hey, Rob! Sorry to have been so out of touch with you. Had a couple weeks of guests at our house, and we just got back from vacation in Missouri. You have accomplished so much in the time I've been away! You are so much closer to the end -- I can't believe it. So cool that you saw moose! One of these days I'd love to see one in person. Just maybe from a vantage point that is a little farther away than you were. heehee
Keep on trecking the Trail, Rob. It is taking a lot out of you, but you are accomplishing something that very, very few people can do. And you can do it! You have it in you, just keep digging. We are all behind you and cannot wait for your pictures.
Lots of love from the Ronnie Lane Boyds,

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