Mile: 1811.5 - 1829.8 (18.3 miles)
It's been a long time since I woke up cozy in my tent, the shift to colder nights is wonderful. It was chilly this morning and I wanted to take my time snug in my bag. But my campsite was probably not exactly legal so no late start for me.
Looking back up my first rock face. Yup glad I didn't go any farther in the dark.
It's 1.7 miles to my first official hut in the whites. I'll admit when I first heard about the hits I was picturing a small yurt like thing. Nope, these are full on lodges. It's $120 a night with a crew that cooks and everything. Each hut will usually accept a few hikers an evening to stay in exchange for work or for extra food. They have to pack out all trash including food leftovers so its in their interest to get rid of food to hungry hikers.
I'd heard they give leftover breakfast to hikers even without work for stay so I'm crossing my fingers as my achy knees get down the mountain. I'm used to being achy but this is some big time effort my poor knees are being subjected to. It's a mile an hour pace kind of morning and I'm
frustrated and tired when I finally get to the Lonesome Lake hut. The staff are friendly and there's a big stack of pancakes I'm welcome too. One girl even sneaks me leftover eggs and oatmeal. It's fantastic and my day turns around.
Practically rolling out the door I finally leave happy and waddling. More down which is what's really slowing me down but it's not as steep and along a gorgeous creek. It's feels like a mossy green wonderland and the sogginess of it all is less frustrating than it was a few hours ago.
Past a paved road and back up I go. It's almost 3000 ft up to the Franconia Ridge trail with a quick stop for water and on to one of the most anticipated sections of the trail. I've been hearing about Franconia Ridge since I first started this thing so I'm pretty excited. Of course the turn off isn't the real ridge, it's another 600 ft before I clear treeline and the real fun begins.
The ridge is gorgeous and so very crowded but with the views who cares.
Mt Lafayette is the last peak of the ridge and then it's time to head down. I start chatting with another northbound hiker and after discovering that we have been listening to the same music on repeat we manage to kill a few hours talking furiously about life and Hamilton.
Which means I get a quick minute to discuss how much fun this musical has been for me. I grew up loving Broadway but I'll admit I'd been avoiding this one because of all the hype. And then I listened to a podcast where one of the speakers said just that, and how happy he was that he had finally decided to give it a try. It's a show that appeals to more than just Broadway fans and along with an incredibly talented cast you get history and fun songs to hike with. Plus it's now the official icebreaker on trail. I've already bonded with at least 3 other hikers just in the past few days. Ok soapbox done.
Looking back you can see all the little bumps of the ridge that I was just on. It's gorgeous and then it's one more climb straight up Mt Garfield.
I kill a little more time debating the Garfield campsite before heading on. I actually have to stop and double check because I think I'm staring at a creek but it turns out that it's actually the trail. This area gives steep trail a new reputation.
I'm hopeful that the Galehead hut will have a work for stay but after climbing my way there it's no luck, 5 southbounders just beat me to it. I wait until the hut visitors have finished dinner and grab water before heading up one more crazy 0.8 mile climb to the summit of South Twin Peak was crazy windy but gorgeous and I'm happy with my decision to keep going.
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