At the bottom of the descent, we crossed a road and then started right back up again for a 1200 foot climb- a steep one. The Ledges, said to have spectacular views, were nothing but fog and cloulds today. Oh well. We descended from the ledges and arrived at the shelter at 3:15. Unsure if we wanted to push on or call it an early day, it started raining pretty heavily and made our decision for us. We changed into dry clothes, pulled our sleeping bags out, and staked out a space in the shelter.
Also at the shelter today was Buddy Backpacker- the 5 year old thru hiker and his Dad Deon. I'd been hearing about Buddy Backpacker for a while now. I have to admit, when I first heard about him, I thought "What kind of irresponsible parents drag a 5 year old along for a thru-hike?" Then I met him. Buddy is not your average 5 year old. If anything, he is dragging Mom and Dad along. His Dad carries a pack, he does not, as he is only 5. He is loving it, he is thriving. I'm ridiculously impressed with this kid. His parents are really cool people, too. The own a hostel in Colorado, they do a lot of hiking in Colorado and a lot of traveling, as well. Buddy is a well rounded, happy, cool kid.
We later met Kokopelli, a 64 year old thru hiker. Kokopelli thru hikes last year but fell and broke his leg 50 miles from Katahdin. So this year, he started over from the beginning! If that had happened to me, I'd be like "ok, just 50 more miles to knock out next year". He started over! He has a flute that he carries with him and plays at night, which is how he got his name. It was nice to hear music before bed.
August 10: Long day today. We were up and on the trail by 6:30, which was still later than Kokopelli. One more mile downhill to the road and we went to Dan Ackerly's house- the ice crem man! Dan lives next to the trail and he has a sign directing you to his house. He has a register to sign and gives out ice cream. He also has soda for sale and you can refill your water from his hose. IN the afternoons, he will often challenge you to a game of croquet. It was morning, though, and he wasnt't playing. We stopped and hung out on Dan's porch for a while, talking and sharing stories. Double D had spent the night at Dan's and was just heading out. Then Dan announced that he had to make a phone call, so we skedattled.
The trail went down the road for a while, and we looked a the cute, funky houses on the road. Then we turned left and headed up into the woods. The trail got steeper and steeper, and we encountered our first rebar in the rocks. In especially steep areas in New Hampshire and Maine, rebar is installed into the rock to form makeshift ladders and handbars. And if somebody goes through that much trouble to install it, bu golly you use it!
Our climb finally concluded at the fire warden's cabin and the lookout tower. We climbed up the tower to find that it was really calm at the bottom, and really windy at the top. Excellent views. I think I actually like New Hampshire better than Vermont!
The trail took on a gradual downhill for the better part of the day after that; no more rebar. We are passing a lot more southbounders and day hikers at this point, its nice to have people to meet and talk to. We made it to the shelter at 6, turned in early. Tomorrow will not be as long a day.
August 11: Short Day today. We were hiking by 7:15. Made quick time through muddy terrain with boardwalks over them. Quick climb up Mist Mountain; too misty to get a good view. Very appropos name! We descended to Glencliff, NH by 9:45 and turned down the road to the hostel, only .25 mile away. Since it was Sunday, and since we both needed to use the post office, there was nothing for us to do except hang out all afternoon.
The Welcome Hikers Hostel is run out of somebody's garage. There are bunks upstairs, and a table, fridge, microwave and TV with DVD player downstairs. On this day, thre was a ton of free food at the hostel, since a local campground had just closed for the season and had come over to the hostel with all their leftover food. We ate cold cut sandwhiches and pudding for lunch. The we showered and did laundry in the tent in the backyard. And then, we lounged in the sun for the aftternoon! it was wonderful.
Kokopelli, Buddy Backpacker and parents, and Steady showed up. Later, the Professor, who we hadn't seen since Great Barrington, and Little Engine and Timber who we also hadn't seen since Mass. Finally, Miss Janet showed up in her psychadelic van and out came the Professor and Mother Teressa. Full house. We all had free hotdogs for dinner, and a pasta dinner that Miss Janet whipped up. I helped in the kitchen, making brownies for dessert. Great atmosphere, lots of cameraderie, and a great dinner.
Not a great nights sleep though. I can never sleep in bunkhouses!