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GoldenBear

You choose a title! (Part 3)

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Pretty awful first day of hiking for me, wasn't it? Fortunately, my trip got a LOT better.

I spent the next day visiting gift shops, bandaging up my leg gash, finding out that the state park charges $16 per person to visit The Flume, trying to soothe a sore throat, fruitlessly looking for moose along the Kancamagus Highway, and getting a meal at a fast-food joint with wifi. Between my throat infection, drinking cold soda, and the air-conditioning of the latter place; I began to shiver like I was having a mild case of hypothermia, even though I was completely aware of my situation. I don’t normally put on a wool sweater when the dew point is in the 50s, but I didn’t want anyone to phone 911 because I was having a severe case of the shivers. I was soon okay.

Also this day, I also went back to the terminus of the Liberty Springs Trail to try to see where I had lost the trail. After five minutes of ascending this path, I was clearly well above the level of the interstate, so I must have gotten off the trail far from the terminus, but below its intersection with Flume Slide Trail. Walking along the bike path in the daylight, I got a vague idea of where I got on that path, but I’m still not completely sure. I was just thankful I survived without serious damage.

I awoke on day three with a bit of trepidation: what if I was so badly out of shape that any attempt at a day hike would end up as repeat of day one? My plan to avoid doing so was simple: I would start a hike just after dawn, plan a hike expecting a pace of one mile taking 90 minutes, and give up if I couldn’t maintain even that level. My choice was to go up the Old Bridle Path to Mount Lafayette, walk along Franconia Ridge to Little Haystack, and then descend Falling Waters. If I couldn’t maintain even this glacial pace on my trek to Greenleaf Hut, I would just give up, and return when I was able to hike at my typical slow pace.

The weather was perfect on this day three hike – not a cloud in the sky, and lower dew points. I started even earlier than on day one, and ascended to the Hut in well five hours – in other words, at exactly the pace I planned for myself. I was feeling good enough, after filling my water bottle (sometimes even *I* learn from my mistakes!) and eating a few of the free pancakes there, that I had no qualms about continuing on to Mount Lafayette. Made it to there about 12:30, and started to enjoy the view in the abundance sunshine. I knew I was going to need some sunscreen, so I put on some SPF 50 on my arms, and then proceeded on to Haystack.

I made the 1.6 mile trek along the exposed ridge line in just under two hours, so I was actually feeling pretty good about my time. Unfortunately, I was NOT feeling so good about my exposed skin, as it was getting noticeably pink. I knew I had slathered on SPF-50 before hitting the sun areas (I still had the bottle), but then I remembered the awful truth about sunscreens:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-li...e/faq-20057957
Now I was fully exposed to carcinogenic, thermonuclear radiation; and nowhere to hide from it – so I just decided to keep walking. Since I left to go down the Falling Water Trail at 3pm, and it took me just over five hours to get up this trail (with rain delay and without my pole), I figured that I would have no problem getting off the trail well before dark.

Unfortunately, even this plan became a bit ‘iffy.’ This trail is full of rocks and uneven steps, so (again) I couldn’t get up to a good pace for fear of falling. I did manage to get back to the car at about 8pm (ie, just before dark), but I was quite glad I didn’t linger anywhere on Franconia Ridge.

Despite finding that my last night would be spent in a co-ed bunk room (hey, I was warned that it might happen), I slept quite well. Amazingly, the towel I had left at the Lafayette Campground shower area had been turned into the lost & found, so I got it back with no trouble. I then had a long, but uneventful, drive home.

When I got back home, Shuttle was nervous about hearing that I got off the trail. "I don't want you to end up like Inchworm!", she said. I pointed out that, if Inchworm had gotten off the trail within half a mile of a major interstate, she wouldn't have been lost for very long. Yes, my stupidity cost me a less than ideal evening, but I was never in much danger as long as I didn't panic.

I’m still not sure what happens next. The rain and heat shows no sign of letting up in the areas I want to hike in, so it may be a while before I return. I’m DEFINITELY returning to the Notch Hostel when I attempt to fill a few gaps in the Franconia area, but I don’t know when the opportunity will arise again. This may be one of my worst A.T. hiking years since I began my serious hopes of doing all the miles back in 2004.

Updated 08-16-2016 at 14:34 by GoldenBear

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