September 25 – Just pulled into the Walmart parking lot in Plymouth, New Hampshire – place where we’re laying our heads tonight. We are truly grateful that Walmart allows RVers like us to spend a safe night in their parking lot(s) as we’re passing through. Tomorrow we’re heading back into Vermont for a week to see more of the fall color – we’ll surely be posting from there.
September 7th – Our alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. and we were up and at ’em. Today’s the day we’re hiking Mount Washington, considered to be the most prominent mountain east of the Mississippi River. Truth be told, I was a little bit intimidated by this big sucker and I just wanted to get on with it! We ate breakfast at Pinkham Notch, a wonderfully-maintained Visitor Center that caters to day-hikers as well as Appalachian Trail thru-hikers; offering hot, homemade meals, showers and bathrooms, and even an overnight lodge for weary hikers.
Our trailhead is on the east side of Mount Washington, and our goal was to arrive before 7 a.m. to get an early start to our long day. We enjoyed a delicious, carb-heavy breakfast and talked to a couple of fellow hikers in the dining hall before taking off. Right at the trail head we weighed our bags – Fred had 20 pounds on his back – mostly camera equipment plus some rain gear and a fleece jacket – and I was carrying 12 pounds of rain gear, my fleece, and our lunch. We each had water – two bottles for me, and Fred with two bottles plus the equivalent of three bottles in his Camelback. Off we go!
Hover your cursor over the photo, below, and click on the arrows to scroll through some great photos of our wonderful, but grueling hike up Mount Washington:
You may have noticed that there are a lot more photos of our hike up and only a couple from the way down. This is because the hike down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail was brutal! Our knees were shouting at us a mere 25 steps down from the summit, and it was quite discouraging to know we had 4.4 miles of descending ahead of us. Down through the ravine trail we passed, and hiked through, some beautiful trickling streams which fell, in areas, off the rocks to create pretty little waterfalls. While lovely vignettes definitely worthy of photographing, it was too much effort to stop, take off the backpack, unzip it, pull out the camera, take a photograph, put the camera back, zip the backpack, then get going again. For both of us, especially me, the mantras on the way down were ‘just keep going’… ‘one foot in front of the other’… and to paraphrase one of our favorite cyclists, the German Jens Voigt, ‘shut up knees!’ [Jens shouts ‘shut up legs!’ while he’s cycling.]
At 5:25 p.m. we made it back to Pinkham, gingerly limped to the car, stretched, and I, for one, vowed, NOT to hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim as Fred wants to do to mark his 60th birthday! This hike was truly grueling, and I am not too keen to hike again for a while! While I’m sure my feelings will change in the morning, for tonight I just want dinner, three Advil, and a good night of sleep.
Total stats for the day – 4.3 miles up; 4.4 miles down – 4,200 feet climbed. Bone-weary legs, especially the knees. Two weary, yet satisfied hikers….
September 6th — We arrived in New Hampshire, and like in Vermont, we are just beginning to see twinges of color. We checked into our nice campground in Shelburne, which is in the northeastern part of the state. We are here in the White Mountains because we want to summit Mount Washington. Fred did so back in 1977 while on leave time during his Navy days, and he remembered that while the hike was difficult, it was very rewarding.
So back to Timberland Campground – we arrived a little earlier than we usually do because we didn’t have far to go from the night before. When we arrive at a campsite, we have a division of labor that works well – I do the inside work including leveling Charley (auto-levelers help tremendously but it always needs some fine-tuning), extending the slides which adds to our living space, and getting the inside set up. Fred works outside – connecting the power and water lines (when we have these two services which is most of the time), getting out our ground rug/mat, setting up our outside chairs and table, and extending our awning. So we quickly set up camp, then set out to do some reconnaissance work for our big hike tomorrow – Mount Washington or bust! Incidentally, this is the highest mountain in New England, and it is considered to be the most prominent mountain east of the Mississippi River.
We visited the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center which is run by the Appalachian Mountain Club. This is a terrific place for hikers to get trail maps, shower, eat, and even spend the night. We noted that once again we intersected the Appalachian Trail, and saw a few thru-hikers; the name given to those individuals who are hiking the entire A.T. – 2,181 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Katahdin in Baxter State Park in Maine, and not coincidentally, our next stop. We chatted with the three of them a bit – they left Georgia on April 17th and will finish up atop Katahdin on September 30th – they’re almost done – good for them!
After getting the information we needed, we headed back to our campsite for a relaxing afternoon with Charley. Fred did some reading, and I did some internet work, and then satisfying my culinary itch, I made a half-batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies! I think because cooking in Charley is a lot more challenging than cooking in a regular-size kitchen where you have ingredients and utensils a lot more accessible, food tastes even better with the extra effort. And believe me, these cookies were delectable!
It’s still warm in the daytime, but chilly at night – great for sleeping with windows open, but it does make for a chilly morning inside Charley!
We’ve looked forward to being up here in New England for a long time now, and we’re thrilled that this part of our journey is finally here. Fall is right around the corner and we await the color burst!
If you’re interested, hover your cursor on the photo below and click on the arrows to scroll through some photos of our day: