Entering the White Mountains

     Mark and I crossed the Connecticut River and walked into the center of Hanover, New Hampshire. Mark stood on that primary intersection, threw his arms in the air then stated loudly, “WHERE BE THE POST OFFICE…?” I guess you had to be there, but I nearly ruptured my spleen laughing so hard. It set the tone for a fun-filled stay in town. We staked out our spot at the Episcopal Student Center which was also the local hiker hostel. The place was filling… Night Prowler, Highlander, Figgy Newton, Lido Bandito, Cookie Monster, Springer Kat, even Greg and Danette showed up. As usual, the beer flowed freely and yet another AT hiker party was spontaneously generated.\

     Hanover is a smaller town and is the home of Dartmouth College. It had all the features of a college town including pizza and pretty young women. We also had the good fortune to enjoy some meals at Thayer Hall, Dartmouth’s cafeteria. Compared to other campus dining halls I’ve been in, Thayer was nearly elegant! I don’t know who made the beautiful hardwood chairs but I suspect it was Bose or JBL because they had a most effective acoustical quality. You see, I was having a touch of gas. I squirmed in my seat trying to keep from venting in such an upscale eatery. Without warning, a portion of the vapor I was suppressing escaped. The loud report that resulted could be heard by everyone in the crowded room. The unmistakable staccato of a loud fart reverberated within the hall and it was clear that it had come from me. I turned quite red and quickly blamed it on a fictitious case of Giardiosis.

     We finished up our laundry, got our food drop and made all the preparations for the next leg. We were closing in on the White Mountains and wanted to get back on the Trail. We were about to shoulder our packs when Mark realized he needed to fill his water bottles. He reached into his pack and… what’s this… he pulls out a 5 pound barbell! Those wacky Appalachian Trail pranksters…, Mark would have carried that many miles if he didn’t check for water!

   The air was getting cooler now as we got closer to the Whites. It was only the second half of August yet there was light frost in the highlands. The hills were turning into mountains. Smarts Mountain, about 15 miles from Hanover, was fairly lofty. We stayed in the firetower at the summit and enjoyed a spectacular sunset as well as an equally magnifacent sunrise. We climbed off of the mountain and blue blazed* some miles away from Mt. Cube. The weather sucked and so we hiked hard to get to Glencliff where I was expecting some mail. We missed the Post Office so we waited out the night at Jeffer’s Brook Shelter at the base of Mt Moosilauke.

     Mark had been putting up with my saying “I think I know that person…” since we started in Georgia. Most of the time I was wrong but that evening at Jeffer’s brook I was right. Michael was an old friend I hadn’t seen for over ten years and there he was sleeping in a shelter on the Appalachian Trail. He shared some interesting tales of his stay in Hawaii as well as his beer. We said good bye in the morning to Michael. After Mark and I stopped at the post office in Glencliff, it was time to climb the first real peak of the White Mountains; Mt Mooselauke.

     The ascent of Mt Mooselauke was strenuous but quite satisfying. Even though the weather was cloudy, the view from the top was unbelievable. This was familiar territory for Mark and I but that feeling at the summit of such a mountain was always a thrill. We hung out in the strong winds for as long as we could then headed off the rocky peak. On the way down I amazed Mark with my survival skills when I killed a spruce grouse with a rock. I attempted to cook it but it was so small I ruined it trying to remove the feathers. So much for my survival skills. After the steep descent along Beaver Brook, we hitched into North Woodstock for some real food!

* blue blazing is when a trail other than the AT is used.

…continue the expedition, read: Life in the Whites [link]