Day 118. It was another zero day in Lincoln, filled with restaurant food and a movie (Incredibles 2, pretty good). I relaxed at Chet’s a bit as well, and offered to do more work for my stay, but he didn’t need anything else done. I appreciated his generous hospitality these past 2 days, but felt bad that I couldn’t help out more, so I gave him a donation on my way out. Spending time there was a highlight of the trip, so I wanted to show some sort of appreciation before leaving. He thanked me and wished me well on the rest of my hike. Before leaving, I was also able to finish uploading my video from last week as well (above).
Around 3pm, the family arrived in town and after a quick dinner and grocery trip, we headed to this evening’s AMC accommodations. The Highland Center is one of the large lodges maintained by the AMC, significantly larger than their huts and accessible by car. This is a large hotel nestled in a gorgeous mountain valley and full of amenities. The accommodations are small, fitted with bunk beds and not much else. There are communal bathroom/showers on each floor, and some communal ref room and lounge areas as well. The 6 of us are sharing a larger family room, but it’s still just a small 15×15 square with a queen and 2 bunk beds. Cozy place, but it would be tight quarters if sharing a room with someone you don’t know (which solo hikers are required to do).
This lodge is also about 5 miles down from the official AT, so most thruhikers likely would not come here unless they wanted a break from the trail or need to go to/from town. But I did see a few friends here after all, which was a nice surprise. Bones, Reboot, and Pritch (all great guys I hiked through CT and MA with, after Happy left me) are here and spending a couple more nights at the lodge to wait out some inclement weather on the horizon.
And I promise this is no exaggeration, but let me explain what that weather looks like.
Today was 75 and sunny, tomorrow will be 75 and sunny … Thursday shows rain and thunderstorms all day, with wind gusts up to 85 mph on the mountains. Yes, I said 85 miles per hour! And our itinerary has us walking 6 miles along one of the highest ridge lines of the White Mountains on Thursday, between Galehead Hut and Zealand Falls Hut.
These are the conditions that you hear stories about (never good), and can be quite literally deadly. Experienced hikers are smart enough to stay indoors on days like that, and we are no different. In learning the weather forecast, we quickly pow-wow’ed with the lodge staff to see what we could do to switch up our reservations. In the end, we were able to build in a Zero Day at Galehead Hut on Thursday for games and puzzles, then we’ll carefully hike out the next day which is expected to be nice again. For our parents (and anyone else) worried about young children in this scenario, just know we can get down from the huts very easily to the road and back to the lodge at any time. We have a lot of contingency built in and multiple options to switch around if things change. Long story short, we will be safe and we will have an adventure. And we have LOTS of extra food.
Side note, I added my winter gear back to my pack today. Thermal bottoms, puffy jacket, hat and gloves. In these tall Presidential mountains, I’ll likely need them. And with the hut hiking, I’m able to drop my hammock, tarp, sleeping pad and sleeping bag for the next few days.
Tomorrow morning we hop on the AMC shuttle from here which will take me back to Franconia Notch, and the others to the Galehead Hut trail. I’ll hike 13 miles along the AT and Franconia Ridge to the hut, while the other do a shorter 5 mile day up the Gale River side trail from the road.
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)
- Start Mile: 1817.8
- Start Time: 0:00
- End Mile: 1817.8
- End Time: 0:00
- Miles Hiked: 0.0
- Miles to Go: 373.1
- Lodging: AMC Highland Center