Location: Imp Campsite in the Carter-Moriah Ridge
I’ve stopped at Imp campsite on the Carter-Moriah Ridge for the day. I only hiked 7 miles, but they were a hard seven miles up steep and long slopes. I stopped short of my intended destination for several reasons, the main reason being that I need to be on Mt. Washington Monday, not Sunday, so that the post office will be open. Also, tomorrow I can hike 10 miles to Wildcat D and stealth camp at the top of the gondola at the summit of Wildcat ski resort. If I can camp there tomorrow night, then I can reach Madison Springs hut early on the following day and hopefully get work for stay.
Yesterday a NOBO named Bāssman tore out the New Hampshire and Vermont pages of his Data Book and gave them to me. It looks like I only have two and one-half pages until I have completed the most difficult 400 miles of the trail. It should take eight days or so for me to complete the White Mountains, descending from Mt. Moosilauke into pastureland.
Last night the shelter area was packed. Two groups, 4 SOBOs and 3 NOBOs all slept at the shelter or at campsites. The three other southbounders were all brothers, ages 16, 17, and 19. They are attempting a thru-hike together, but they seem to fight and aggravate each others’ nerves frequently. They decided to take a zero today. One of the brothers hitched back to Gorham early this morning and came back with Dunkin Donuts. They gave me a glazed donut. The three brothers (their names I can’t remember) carried more food than I have eaten on my entire trip. They probably carried 100 lbs of food and drink mix collectively. They had been eating two dinners a night before Rattlesnake Shelter and they were still trying to give food to me and the northbounders at the shelter.
In a couple of days, I’ll be entering the AMC hut system in the White Mountains. I’m interested to see how my work for stay experience turns out. Hopefully the staff at the huts will be kind and helpful. I’ve heard hikers tell pleasant stories and also horror stories. Those who have bad experiences seem to have burdened themselves by being rude to the staff. I understand that I want something from them, so I should be as courteous and humble as possible, but there is only so much lip I’ll take from some college punk that treats me poorly or rudely without provocation. Luckily my schedule is flexible so I can work in the mornings or the evening, and I don’t particularly care about the type of tasks involved with working for stay, as long as they are within reason. Hopefully I’ll just be sweeping the floors or folding laundry. The best part of the Whites will be the food. If I work for stay, then I’ll get all of the dinner and breakfast that I can eat. Anything that can’t be composted must be carried off the mountain; therefore it is in the interest of the staff to have thru-hikers eat as much food as they can. I’m sure that my experience will be pleasant because I will make sure that it is pleasant. As long as the weather holds off, I should have an enjoyable and safe experience in the Whites.
As for the three brothers, I am almost certain that their time in the Whites will be much more difficult. Most huts only offer work for stay for 2-4 thru-hikers per night. In many cases, the brothers will probably be split up. One might be able to work at the huts while the other two are forced a half of a mile off the AT to camp at a pay site. Also, the brothers have clean shaven baby faces. One of the most recognizable features of a thru-hiker is a gnarly beard. These boys lack that feature, so they may find their time in the Whites more difficult if people think they are just kids and not thru-hikers. In addition to their faces, their attitudes might cause them trouble. They have been trying to cut deals in towns for hostel rates because they are three. They all seem pretty stubborn and pushy, a characteristic that, as I’ve heard, does not appeal to the young staff operating the various huts.
On a more exciting note, I am more readily being distinguished by others as a thru-hiker. Maybe it’s the smell, maybe it’s the facial hair, or maybe it’s the speed at which I hike, but everyone I meet in town or on the trail recognize me as a southbound thru-hiker. Originally I had assumed that I would be an outsider in the hiking community because I am not like many of the pot-smoking, music loving, tree hugging hippies in these mountains. But, surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly, I am accepted by a culture with which I don’t believe that I fully identify.