Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Backpacking The Whites - Part 4

Day 4
Wednesday, September 26, 2009
MRL to Beaver Brook Shelter

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I woke up with the rest of the class on Wednesday morning. It was hard to continue sleeping given all the noise they were making in their scurry to finish packing up. I made my way out the door and headed for the main lodge where I enjoyed the use of the facilities. I made my way up to my car where I threw everything I wasn't going to need back into my car. I loaded up my pack with new supplies, gear and food and met back up with the class. When they were ready, we did a morning stretch, slung on our packs and headed towards the top of the Moose.

We played a variety of guessing games along the way to the top of the mountain. One of the young leaders was trying to stress to the group the necessity in drinking an excessive amount of water. I finally had had enough of this and explained how too much water can cause brain swelling.. even death. The conversation revolving around drink drink drink quickly came to a close. As we made our way to tree line we noticed the cloud quickly moving in over the summit, which was no longer visible. We had a gorgeous bright morning, and now we wallowed in a pit of wet pea soup. The winds picked up and remained fierce from the west. We hiked higher up the slope and into the cloud bank. Everyone bundled up and hung on as we topped out at the summit sign.

The wind whipped and howled across the ridge. We stopped only long enough to take a group photo before the class left me laying down behind a wall made of summit stones. "Are you really going to stay right here Sherpa?" "Yeah why?" "Because its hellacious up here!" "It is?.. Hmm" I of course smiled as the clouds raced across the summit. It was chilly but I was warm. My new sunglasses on, the sun was out where I was and thats all that mattered to me. The class took their leave and I sat huddled beneath the rocks waiting for the next class to arrive.

After while I realized that I was getting a bit chilly. The winds gradually continued to pick up. So I stood up and walked straight into the wind on the southwest side of the mountain. I couldn't hear myself think as the wind rushed the breath from my mouth. I headed for treeline quickly then over to where the Glencliff trail meets up with the carriage rd. I put my pack down and enjoyed the silence as the wind rushed overhead now as it raced across the small space of atmosphere above the summit. I took the shrt walk to the top of South Moosilauke where the wind hardly blew there as well. There was no view, just grey, emptiness. I could hear only my breath.. and I returned to the junction. Here I settled down into a ball behind my pack and under a fir stand, I fell asleep and enjoyed a needed nap.

A group of students came hiking up from the Glencliff Trail. I asked what college the were from, but the name escapes me. I think it was Williams College. I only asked because their level of maturity was atoricious. They all made comments about the "dead guy" laying in the woods as they chuckled on by. Half of them hiked up in tennis shoes, shirtless and I was frigid with the thoughts of them carrying on to the summit. They returned quickly stating that they had lost the trail on their way to the top and they were now heading back down. And as soon as they left, the 3rd group of UNH students I was to meet showed up.

I arose from my slumber and shook hands with those I knew. We immediately started hiking towards the summit and I warned those in the group who looked underdressed that a jacket may be better suited for the conditions. Anthony forgot his hiking pole so he had to return to the junction and while he was gone I made sure to catch and learn everyones name. Upon Anthony's return we continued on our way, climbing the rocky slope to the top of Moosilauke... again... where I took a few summit photos of the group.. again.. and then we continued down the other side of the mountain.



As we left the summit of the mountain the wind whipped hard out of the west north west. A cold stiff wind hammered against us and shoved droplets of rain into our skin like needles. We all dawned our hoods and leaned into the wind, not being able to totally see where we were going. As we made our way into the trees, the turbulance died and so did our concerns. We all looked up, wide eyed, red, and soaked. I enjoyed conversing with this rag tag group of students as we worked our way into camp. As we got there, they set about setting up their camp while I nestled back into the confines of the Shelter for one more night away from home.

Anthony and Bryan made one hell of a Thanksgiving Dinner which I was lucky enough to taste. Me? I had chili and once again it was something that was difficult to clean out. As the sun began to set, we watched the alpin-glow against the Franconia Ridge to the North. As it darkened, we all settled into the shelter where in a circle, we welcome to Thru-hikers to enjoy the history lesson. For the final night I gave my lesson about the Helicopter dropping human waste into Kinsman Pond, The Jeep driving to the top of Moosilauke, The first dowhill ski championship, Guy Waterman, Serman Adams and JE Henry, The Dartmouth Races, The Waternomee Bomber Crash, The creation of Kinsman Ridge and the first paid AMC Trail Crew, and finally The Prospect House. The pictures were much like the ones I had seen all week and so were their made-up stories about what they represented. It was education for me as much as it was them and all group offered much feedback; this alone made the entire journey a success for me.

So after the lesson we ate S'Mores together finishing off the supplies. My bag was finally empty and lighter. I nestled into my corner of the shelter for one more night outside. The thru-hikers set their tents up inside the shelter for added protection from a frigid wind that was filtering in from the north now. Anthony and I bundled up and huddled under our respective sleeping bags. I was frozen, tired... yet exhausted. Despite having the protection from the wind, the temps still dropped to near 30 on this night... perfect sleep weather... for those who didn't shiver.

Day 5
Thursday, September, 27, 2009
Beaver Brook Shelter to MRL

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I woke up in the morning and enjoyed one last breakfast. Anthony and Bryan made cinnamon buns which I enjoyed a few tastes of. Holy cow was it exceptional and a real waker upper. We quickly packed up our things and had a class meeting about the possibility of one of their own coming down a shorter way with me, arriving at the lodge sooner. This student wasn't feeling well and I observed some pity on her. We were shot down and I decided to hike with the class instead. As we made our way back up the mountain, we stopped and I took a few of them with me over to Mt Blue where I signed into the register again as did the rest of us. They had completed a bushwhack and we all very stoked.

As we made our way out of the trees we marvelled at the 360 degree views from the top. We could see all the way to the Adirondacks, towards Canada, Mount Washington, Maine, The Lakes Regions... everything. I smiled from ear to ear as I hurried ahead to get a few action shots of the class with my camera. When we reached the summit, we took a more appropriate group photo and then I proceeded to name all of the peaks one could see from the summit. I found a watch and asked the time.. it was time for me to go. I laughed as I realized then that I had gone all week without a watch on me. I cared not abut time. The sun rose... the sun set.. I slung my pack on and hurried down the mountain back to Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. At the lodge, I ducked inside to take a shower. I cleaned up, dressed up like a guy ready for work at EMS and thats where I headed. Back to reality... my 5 day journey had ended.


I really enjoyed my time in the mountains. The time spent alone and with the classes gave me an opportunity to mix it up a bit. The moments alone were essential, and the moments with the group educational. It was interesting to me to see how throwing a new comer into a well formed group is like throwing a wrench at a ceiling fan. Every group reacted differently to this prospect. It was the first class which made me feel most welcome.. with the final class being a close second. I guess in the end, my week was perfect from beginning to end.. thanks to them and their attention.