Start (approx.): 5:45 am Camp (approx.): 8:20 pm
4000 footers climbed: Cannon (8:00 am), Liberty (4:55 pm), Flume (6 pm)
Miles hiked: 14.5
I pack up and am happy to get to the Lonesome Lake trail junction. I drop my pack and stuff the Monkeys, my camera, InReach and some snacks in my rain jacket pockets. I’m entering the Cannon Balls as they’re called. Big rocks to scramble on steeply to get to the top. Somehow when I enter the easier flat part my left leg starts to bother me. This doesn’t make any sense, I’ll try to ignore it. I find the viewing tower on top of Cannon and enjoy taking some pictures. It looks like it’s going to be another nice day.
I quickly descend, pick up the pack again and follow the Lonesome Lake trail down. I walk around the northern edge of the lake since I’ve never done that before and get some water at the hut.
Instead of going down the Cascade Brook trail and up the Liberty Springs trail I decide to continue down on the Lonesome Lake trail and go up the Falling Waters trail. I figure this will save me a few miles hiking with the backpack on and I’ll just do an out and back from Little Haystack to Liberty and Flume. I’m hoping I’ll be a bit faster without the backpack and maybe my leg will be happier. (In hindsight this really didn’t save me as much as I thought).
It’s hot and humid today and I’m sweating buckets. I have a two liter water capacity and I drink as much as I can the last time I cross the brook at Falling Waters. Fully loaded with water and food I move really slowly up the steep trail. I leap frog with two guys from Florida who aren’t used to these kind of trails. We’re all very relieved when we finally make it to the top of little Haystack. After a break and food I stash my pack in the bushes and head out to Liberty and Flume. It’s easy terrain but my left leg is really acting up. It’s so weird that it starts hurting when I take my pack off. I try stretching and massaging and sometimes it will go away for a bit. I’m definitely not moving as fast as I could have. It’s almost 5pm when I get to Liberty where I have a nice chat with an older lady, I hope to be hiking like she does when I’m her age.
After Liberty it’s on to Flume and back. My leg is feeling better and I make good time back to Haystack. It is getting dark however and clouds are rolling in. By the time I get back to my pack it’s getting hard to see in the dark and mist and with the increasing wind I’m not sure it’s smart to go on. I decide to play it safe and stay put for the night. Maybe that will give my leg some time to heal up as well. I find a gravelly spot and set up my tent.
Start at Glencliff Trailhead: 6:40 am. Camp (approx.) : 12:00 am
Miles hiked: 19.5 (all with full pack)
4000 footers climbed: Moosilauke (9:30am), South Kinsman (8:30pm), North Kinsman
I did not have the best night’s sleep at the Jeffers Brook shelter because of the snoring and neo air noises from my shelter mate (I moved out of the shelter in the middle of the night) but I still got a good and early start. I packed up and about 3/4 mile later I was at the Glencliff trailhead. Of course the Monkeys wanted to come, I even got custody of Miles for this trip. ; )
The hike up is going well, I’m feeling strong and the pack doesn’t feel too heavy. I’m guessing it’s about 40lbs with food for about 10 days. The weather is good and once I get above treeline there is a nice view. I chat with two day hikers on the top and have my picture taken. I decide to take a picture of all the food I’m packing, it’s a lot!
FOOD: 10 ziplocs of mac and cheese/tortellini’s; 10 ziplocs each filled with two packs of Belvita breakfast cookies, two mini candy bars, a tuna pack, a granola bar, and breakfast cocoa powder. I’m also carrying two bags of potato chips, a pack of fully cooked bacon, 12 bagels, and two packs of the laughing cow’s cheese wedges.
On the way up the pack weight seemed no problem but I underestimated the steepness of the Beaver Brook Trail. After getting water at the Beaver Brook shelter (and chatting with some flip flopping AT hikers), the trail goes very steeply down rock slabs adorned with wooden beams quite far apart for my short legs and heavy load. Every landing I can feel the extra weight on my legs. I have hiked this trail before but it’s worse than I remember. Oh well. I finally make it down and start the long hike to the Kinsmans. It seems to take forever til I make it to South Kinsman but I eventually get there. North Kinsman is easy after that and quite uneventful except for the bunny I see at the top.
My original plan had me tag the peak of Cannon and down the Lonesome Lake and Cascade Brook trails to start on the Liberty Springs trail tomorrow morning. There is no way I can do that tonight. My new goal is to get to the Lonesome Lake trail junction and camp there. At midnight I figure I’m close enough and pretty tired so I start looking for a flat spot. I find something next to the trail that with my two food bags underneath the bottom of my sleeping pad is actually quite comfortable.
In the end of June I found out about something called a Direttissima. It was described as one continuous hiking trip, carrying all your food and supplies, summiting all 48 4000 footers in New Hampshire. It sounded like a great challenge. At the time I was not in shape at all to attempt it but in August I went on a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada in California. I started off on the Sierra High Route which turned out to be too much for my overweight body in the time I had allotted myself. Day one was absolutely beautiful but extremely challenging. Cross country travel over 11000 ft passes, scrambling down ledges, being continuously out of breath and a lack of appetite made me decide to abandon the route and drop down to the Kings Canyon trail to join the John Muir Trail the next day. Since I’d already hiked that trail several times I decided to push the miles and get back in shape so I could pick up the Sierra High Route at a later stage (they parallel and cross a few times).
This strategy worked and after the trip I was in decent shape. I flew home, set up at Boston Ahts (a craft fair in Boston) two days later and started planning the Direttissima. I had already outlined an ideal route with as much true backpacking as possible and a few summit tags. My ideal route had me follow the Cascade Brook trail and the Liberty Springs trail up to mt. Liberty. It also had me go down the North Twin trail and follow the abandoned Fire Warden trail up to Mt. Hale with the lend-a-had trail to Zealand and over to the Bonds. I’ll explain in my blog why I changed my plans.
I figured I’d try it in ten days since I really didn’t want to carry more food and I wanted to challenge myself to see how far I could push and test my will power and body. And somehow I thought I could hike twentyfive mile days in the Whites.
Below is a picture of the actual route I took.
Three days later I was in the truck getting dropped off at Long Pond rd. At the trailhead I crammed everything in my pack and hiked .2 miles south to the Jeffers Brook Shelter.