Around 11 am we started hiking up Crawford Notch towards Mt. Webster and therefore going in on the Presidential Traverse.
We decided to take all the blue blazes to go over all the peaks instead of bypassing some of them by using the actual AT. We were planning on doing 15 mile days through the White Mountains to be able to enjoy the time and soak up the views. But ah no, the terrain is again harder than expected. After summiting Mt. Webster, Jackson, Pierce, Eisenhower, Franklin, and Monroe we ended up staying in the ‘Lake of the clouds’-hut together with ‘Dirty Harry’, ‘Multi-tool’, ‘Greywolf’ and another German southbound thru-hike who’s name I didn’t catch. Lots of Germans out here, that’s what I hear :).
Meeting ‘Greywolf’ was such a nice surprise though, as he is the first person out of the hiker-community I met when I came to the US to hike the PCT last year. He back then shuttled me from the train station somewhere around San Diego to the home of Scout & Frodo, Trail angels and a big help to all the hikers to get to the southern terminus at the beginning of their PCT hike. Scout actually is on the trail too, but we missed him around Rutland back in Vermont.
At the ‘lake of the clouds’-hut, we helped to shake out the pillows and folding the blankets before we started the final ascent up to the peak of Mt. Washington. So crowded up there and people standing in line to take a peak picture after driving their car all the way up to the top or riding the train up.
In total that day we climbed over another four peaks, including Mt. Washington, Clay, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison. We fueled up at Madison hut and climbed up and over Mt. Madison, going down a steep ridgeline crossing sharp boulder rocks towards Osgood Campsite and past to our stealth campsite just 3 miles before the road at Pinkham Notch.
The descent was so steep, I could hardly make it a mile per hour. My knees felt beat up and compressed and I truly thought that’s it, I have to retire them. Steep descents like that on slick boulders make me freeze up like a deer in front of a car, that was hard work.
Luckily my knees and muscles were able to recover a lot during the night and we all finally got the sleep we needed on a soft pine needle bed. We enjoyed staying in camp late before we took off for the final descent down to Pinkham Notch, 3 miles further down. We were hanging out at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center for some hours drinking coffee and chat as we knew already the weather was about to turn bad and a further hike up into the Wildcat Mountains would be dangerous. The ascent up to Wildcat Peak is supposed to be steep and exposed on slick rocks.
So ‘Toepick’ showed up with her car to pick her boyfriend and us up for Gorham, to spend the night and wait out the weather and furthermore celebrate ‘Dirty Harrys’ 24th birthday. We booked the bunks at “The birch campground and hostel” and went on for the Chinese buffet at the “Dynasty Buffet”. Filled up we did our small resupply at Walmart and enjoyed the rest of ‘Dirty Harries’ birthday at the campground.
New day new climb up and over the ‘Wildcats’, a skiing area to the Carter Notch hut where we got treated with some fresh baked bread and cake in the long-distance card provided by the Appalachian Mountain Club. Filled up we were able to hike on to Mt. Moriah, our camp for the night just below the summit.
The Whites are done and we’re beat up. Recovering from that extraordinary ascending and descending every day takes definitely more time.