Southbound: episode 6
October 16th 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White
It is amazing to think that it has been almost exactly two weeks since we crossed over into New Hampshire . Tonight, we sit in the Dartmouth College Library just a mile from the Vermont border. We will cross over late tonight after updating the journal and dinner in town. The NH – VT border marks a big milestone for us. Its marks our 2nd state completed (hardest 2), 20% finished, 440 miles, and 40 days of continuous backpacking. This is my longest consecutive backpacking trip ever, but lets not forget that it is Ice Man’s first backpacking trip. Both of us are still excited and feeling great.
After our night camping under the I-93 bridge outside of North Woodstock , we had a beautiful short hike back into the mountains. That night Ice Man built his first fire on his own with no fire starters or fuel from the stove. It was a nice size fire that kept us warm before dinner. That night, we had the heaviest rainfall of the whole trip. In the morning the stream beside the shelter had risen almost a foot higher than the day before. Ice Man was excited to summit Mt. Wolf , but disappointed that no one actually put a sign at the top. The sadness didn’t last long. We stopped later at a stream to filter some water and the water filter has been making strange noises. Well, as Ice Man was pumping water, a moose walked up behind him making a similar grunting noise as the water filter. It was the funniest thing. The moose stopped just 10 or 15 feet away and looked at us, and we just starred back. It didn’t take but a few seconds before it realized that we were not another moose, and took off running. There wasn’t enough time to even get the camera out.
We had hoped to climb up and over Mt. Moosilake , the last of the White Mountains, before the following day was over. The rain slowed us down, but not nearly as much as the beautiful mile climb up Moosilake. Almost the entire climb paralleled a brook with endless cascading waterfalls. We stopped at the shelter just below the peak instead of risking night hiking. As the night went on, the weather cleared, the mountains hidden in the clouds came out, and the night sky was perfectly clear. It was a great sign of what was to come, or so we thought.
In the morning, there was a 1/2 inch of snow on the ground, our boots were frozen, and the water filter was iced over. We boiled 4 quarts of water for the day and used the stove to de-ice our boots. We were not expecting this to happen anytime soon. It was a miserable start to a great day. The views from the top of Moosilake were clear. To the east, was the taller rugged White Mountains that we already conquered, and to the west, hahaha. We were a little bummed out to be standing on a mountain that was taller than anything to come in a long while. On the maps, we started to see not just mountains labeled, but also hills.
We knew we were leaving the hardest part of the trail behind as we came down the mountain. The trail almost instantly became smoother and more gradual than before. We ended up doing 16 miles that day even after taking a two hour snack break at the bottom of Moosilake. We wanted to make sure we could make it into Hanover by this morning, so the following day we pushed out a 20 miler over smaller mountains and fields. Yesterday, we made 18 miles to the edge of town. We were hoping to stay in town, but there was nothing cheaper than $80 a night. Luckily a wonderful man, named Dwight offered us a place to stay for the night.
We were so excited. He had a wonderful family and he and his wife treated us very well. They treated us to hot showers, laundry, and a fabulous dinner. He mapped out the town and dropped us off to wonder around. We stopped by Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Murphy’s Pub. It was nice to sit and relax for a while. We slept on a nice comfy bed with a down comforter and our own bathroom right next door. It was excellent. We came into town this morning to resupply and tie up loose ends.
We are going to experiment with our diet this week by doubling our calorie intake. According to backpacker magazine, winter hikers that hike for 8 hours need 5 to 6 thousand calories a day. I think we were somewhere in the ballpark of 2500 on a good day. Food is heavy, but we are loading up this time. The only thing harder to hike with other than an aching body is a hungry stomach. It is amazing the diet we can handle out here. It really is. The plan is to be in North Adams , Mass. in 9 days which is where we hope to update you once again, but it may come sooner. We have to resupply in a town again in a few days.
This exert was originally published on atwishhikers.com. It’s content has not been edited from the original post.Epilogue: by: Bryan Wolf
My first memory of Hanover is that of randomly hiking up on Dwight and his son. It was a great display of faith and trust on his part to extend his hand and his home. There couldn’t of been five minutes in conversation before he offered showers and home cooking. This was an amazing surprise after what was one of the very hardest nights and mornings on the trail. What we came to find out at dinner, is that Dwight was one of the original founders of Jetboil. We will always have a wonderful story and proudly sell Jetboil because of the good nature we received that day, besides they are great stoves too!
Depite the top of Mt. Mooilake being one of the more difficult mornings, it was also one of the more thrilling. I remember and often revisit that adrenaline rush that comes with harsh weather and long exposure to the elements of our raw world. My boots had frozen and took the first two miles to thaw, even after which my feet remained frozen for several more. The first time you face these challenges, and the first time you realize the severity of your choice to do a winter thru-hike is scary. At the same time it is exhilarating and makes you feel very alive. It is these experiences that build your confidence and knowledge in these trips.