View Full Version : The Whites FINALLY let me pass

08-14-2014, 10:57
I'd like to think it was because of the experience gained over the prior 2100+ miles, but it was probably just dumb luck.

Consistent with prior experiences, I blew out a trusty trail runner AND damaged a backup water shoe on a Kinsman traverse, just three miles after my return to the White Mountains. (For background purposes, I popped my hamstring on a rain saturated bog bridge in my first new AT mile on my last Whites outing.) I was also chased off of Mt. Lafayette with a thunder and hailstorm that rivaled the Misty Mountains storm in the recent Hobbit movie, lightning everywhere, pea and marble-sized hail accumulated a half inch deep on the bail-out trail. To add insult to injury, a second storm hit a couple hours later, turning the final mile of the Skookumchuck trail into two inches of mud.

Then...good weather prevailed...

Descending Mt. Washington SOBO went without incident, and 80 mile views were had upon Mt. Pierce.

I then climbed again to the top of Lafayette, a few scattered clouds causing a bit of trepidation, but I emerged unscathed, with only a bit of rain falling on the last mile of the Skookumchuck trail.

Last was the Moriah/Carter/Wildcat traverse, which I began on Monday. With storms predicted for Wednesday (yesterday), I felt that I needed to finish in two days. While I was within 1 linear mile of Pinkham Notch at around 7 PM on Tuesday, I still needed to descend 2,000 feet down a trail I can only describe as "horrifying." About three hours I emerged dripping wet from the night fording of Stoney Brook, and stumbled into the family van that was awaiting at the Wildcat Ridge trailhead. My shorts were ripped to shreds from butt sliding, my body battered from the numerous, semi-controlled falls that constitute "hiking" down that trail.

The next morning I hiked the final mile on the Lost Pond trail...or what turned out to be about a mile and a half. First, over Stoney Brook again, now rain swollen. Then the white blazes disappeared, and I only found nailed up blue diamonds on what appeared to be the trail. Rock scrambled back a couple hundred yards...there's a faded white blaze, hmmm... So I continued hiking on the "blue diamond" trail, and finally found a bog bridge and what appeared to be a partial white blaze. Soon afterward, I found my family waiting on the trail, more than ready to hike the last half mile with me. We hiked up to the final trail sign together, hand in hand. Twenty days shy of three years, we had finally summited our Katahdin.

"I'm pretty tired...think I'll go home now..."

Thanks to all on WB for all of your help! I'll give some proper shoutouts after a bit of rest.


Gambit McCrae
08-14-2014, 11:35
Congrats! Cant wait to be in your shoes, how many years did it take? (Im guessing you section hiked it?)

08-14-2014, 11:36

I like your description of "semi-controlled falls" while doing down the Wildcats.

08-14-2014, 16:59
Congrats! Cant wait to be in your shoes, how many years did it take? (Im guessing you section hiked it?)

It took a little under 3 years. It felt a bit like a thru at times because of the continuous effort (planning, driving, etc.), but yes, I section hiked it. Good luck on your hike!

08-14-2014, 17:41
I would not have wanted to be out in woods during yesterdays storm! It felt like the remnants of a September hurricane! Strong winds and heavy rain. Good thing you finished up before the full force of the storm got here.

08-14-2014, 19:12
I was getting really nervous on Wildcat, because the storm could have hit late Tuesday as well. It was quite windy near Wildcat D when I hiked through, and as I mentioned, I was low on daylight too. I had to decide between descending partially in the dark, or bivying down for the night (I had a small tarp) and risking descending in a storm on Wednesday. Ultimately it turned out pretty well, but the experience was definitely in my top 3 scariest on the trail!

08-14-2014, 19:35
Good for you--we know the feeling, we've had several trips to new hampshire, this last one in june resulting in a broken rib for me and some very ugly weather. I'm glad you made it, a true badge of honor--we return next year.

08-14-2014, 19:58
WOW! Quite an experience in the Whites!

I was recently hiking in Pinkham Notch nd experienced the same lack of white blazes by Lost Lake!

Glad made you made it out!

08-16-2014, 16:47
Well, it will be a 41-year long adventure if I can finish in October.

Fortunately, my experience in the Whites (Septembers in 2006 to Pinkham Notch and 2012 to Rangeley) were extremely fortunate from a weather standpoint. Even so, I couldn't imaging trying it in heavy fog, high winds, driving rain, hail, sleet, snow...hard enough in perfect weather (the anemometer wasn't even moving atop Mt. Washington and it was 52-degrees and sunny with an undercast!).