Trail: Appalachian Trail from Beaver Brook Trail Head to Franconia Notch, New Hampshire
Distance: 17.2 m
Elevation gain: 5,200’
Date Hiked: September 9-10
This was our first overnighter in the White Mountains this season. Steve Smith, the guru of all things White Mountain hiking, called this one “the most grueling section of the AT in the White Mountains.”
And when we told the ranger at the station of our plans to hike this section, he said, “Now why in the world would you want to do that?”
Because we can!
And we did.
And Steve Smith was right.
It was pretty darn grueling.
Especially on day two, which involved an intense 1,000 foot scrambly climb over one mile up to South Kinsman. Then after North Kinsman, one of those wold famous never-ending descents along granite slabs and weird steps nailed into the rocks along the Fishin’ Jimmy section of the trail.
The two Kinsmans added two more 4,000 footers to my collection.
The trail got crowded after North Kinsman. Tourists and day hikers coming up from Lonesome Lake Hut, all light and breezy with their tiny packs.
We saw lots of thru-hikers as they flew past us, past all the cascades along Eliza Brook, past the views. Most just seemed to getting it done, which makes me sad a little because they were traveling through some beautiful terrain with gorgeous views of Mt. Moosilauke and the Franconia Ridge.
Maybe they didn’t want to see what gruel was coming next.
Rico found a bean-bag fox, and it’s become his new favorite thing in the world--a souvenir from his epic walk in the magical moss-blanket forest of New Hampshire.
We spent the night at Eliza Brook shelter and tent site where we met a pair of SOBO women—Dori and Free Bird—who offered some great tips about food and cooking and were just a pleasure to chat with.
I’m following Dori’s blog now on Appalachian Trials and cheering them on from afar.
A Taste of Trail Culture
Throughout the day we leap-frogged a couple of other NOBO thru-hikers who had also spent the night at Eliza Brook. We didn’t talk much, but they were super-friendly in a way that the day-hikers don’t tend to be.
In fact, I felt like I got a great taste of trail culture on this section.
I felt welcomed as part of a collection of people who have something that bonds them together.
It was a new experience for me, this feeling of fitting in.
Like, finally, there's a place for someone like me who doesn't get manicures or wear the wrong thing or comb her hair. In fact, it's a place to celebrate those quirks. The messier the hair, the better,
So, yeah, we felt welcomed into the tribe of people with big packs.
Ralph Gets a Trail Name
Even Ralph felt welcomed enough to consider at least section hiking the trail (where he’s been totally opposed to it for ever, mostly because he doesn’t do crowds or socializing and there’s lots of both on the trail. Or not.)
I think he recognized his peeps, too.
And he noticed that they're different from the loud day hikers who don't respect nature or other hikers on the trail.
Like me, I think Ralph realized that he could be his usual aloof self and still feel like a part of something.
And he got his trail name this trip…Silent Bob. Oh yeah. It totally fits.
Something Random and Creepy: we noticed a BIG puddle/splatter of blood on a rock somewhere along the way. Whoever lost that blood and how will remain a mystery.
Really, though, I don't know what that ranger was thinking. It was hard, sure. But it was gorgeous and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.