Man vs. Nature

I’m leaving later this week on an 8-night hut-to-hut backpacking trip in New Hampshire. My goal is to keep a photo journal and post entries whenever I encounter a cellular signal on my iPhone (CDMA) or iPad (GSM). Between the tall mountains and occasional highway crossings, I expect at least one or two data dumps along the way. Here I’m testing my ability to upload photos from my camera to my iPad and then post them to WordPress.

If you can see my daughter above, who was having trouble sleeping just as I needed a test subject, then I guess this all works! And if you’re wondering how I will power all of this for 9 days, my answer is Love. And plenty of batteries. More details on my packing list later.

Day 1: Lonesome Lake

Today we hiked up the Cascade Brook Trail from the Flume parking lot just south of the Franconia Notch visitor’s center. It was a great trial run of my ~45 lb. pack. Why so heavy? Over 4 liters of water in CamelBak bladders, my camera (+ 16-35mm lens), tripod, lunch/snack food for 9 days, iPad and 2 iPhones, 2 i.Sound battery bricks to recharge the electronics, 3 pairs Wright Socks, 2 pair Give-and-Go underwear, 2 shirts, shorts, convertible pants, fleece, rain/wind jacket, silk sleep sack, TP + trowel, and misc. other minor items.

We made it up in about 3.5 hours, including a generous lunch break and plenty of photo ops along the way. Emily named my trowel “Debbie” and we decided that our euphemism for taking a shit in the woods would be “taking Debbie out to stretch her legs.” My mother-in-law Debbie should be advised that I had no part in naming this trowel. I was happy to just call it the Shit Shovel.


Day 2: Greenleaf

Yes, the AMC ran out of creativity when naming this hut. It would be generic enough if they just named it “Green Hut” or “Leaf Hut.” Why not insult us all and combine the two? Ohhhh, the green leaf. Thanks for supplying that detail.

After hiking down from Lonesome Lake and picking up Laurie at Lafayette Campground we decided to divert from the AT in order to take the more treacherous but scenic Falling Waters trail up to Franconia Notch.

Falling Waters (B&W)

Falling Waters (color)

Falling Waters group shot

Sick of falling water yet? The trail selection may have paid off, but it also wiped us out. Emily supplied freeze-dried morale.

freeze-dried ice cream sandwich

We made it to 6pm sharp dinner after 6pm, but the Hut Croo hooked us up anyway. And here’s what we have to look forward to in the coming days… Mt. Washington awaits us in the distance.

Mt. Lafayette Summit

UPDATE: I’m on the third bunk of a triple, and there’s not enough ceiling clearance for me to cross my ankles while I sleep. The AMC will hear from me about this! Jessica would be so pissed if she knew.

Day 3: Galehead

Hiking alone is a different experience. Faster, but not as fun. We were the last ones to leave Greenleaf at 8:30am. I passed the boy scout troop immediately on the way back up Lafayette. (I hate backtracking, but I think that’s the only mandatory backtracking on this trip.) That’s not to say I was going fast, just that the BSA troop was large enough that they made pretty slow progress.

I had my first real snack break (dried mangos) on Garfield Ridge when I met up with Greg and his 12yo son Josh who are on the same itinerary as me through Zealand. Josh is my bud. Then I powered on to Garfield summit, where I had lunch, aired out my socks, and remembered my visit here circa 1995, when it was the final summit of a 20mi. day hike.

A look back at Franconia Ridge from Garfield

I was still feeling good hiking down Garfield, but started losing my gumption on the final mile up to Galehead. But I soldiered on, all the time wondering if Maurice and Emily would already be there. When I arrived at 3:20pm, they told me they had received a radio relay at 3pm saying my fellow travelers wouldn’t be making the trip. Since it was that late, and Maurice and Emily should have made it to Franconia Notch by mid-morning, I suspect they attempted the Galehead Trail but turned back part-way up. Still no word from them.

I gave myself a cloth bath and washed all my clothes, draping them over hot boulders in the sun outside the hut. Greg and Josh arrived less than an hour later. That kid is a speed demon! The boy scouts finally started trickling in right at 6pm, with some not arriving until well after dinner. (The Croo graciously kept dinner warm for these poor kids.)

After dinner we went on a nature walk where we learned about fir waves: the mysterious patches of dead fir trees found frequently in the area. And now to bed, where even the top of a quad-bunk has plenty of foot room. Score!

The Calm Before The Storm

I am the king of the double entendre. (I am not the king of spelling en Francais, so pardonez moi.) Today’s hike which I’m nearing the end of should be the easiest of them all. After that, Mt. Washington takes over and climbs us.

Meanwhile thunderstorms are rolling in this afternoon, so I’ve been racing to Zealand. More later!

Day 4: Zealand Falls

The hike from Galehead to Zealand was pretty uneventful. The first hour was tough, straight up South Twin. The Family of 7 (those who adopted me at Galehead) gathered together for a group picture at the top.

I also got pictures of Josh with me and with his dad, Greg.



Then it was relatively flat for miles before descending into Zealand Falls. When I walked into the hut, guess who was waiting for me? Maurice and Emily!! They aborted mission on the way to Galehead, but after a night at the Wayside Inn they were fresh and ready to resume the trek.

Maurice and Emily at Zealand Falls


We took Josh up to the falls to take some pix and have some fun.


The three of us boys had a pact to go all the way in the freezing water on the count of 3. Guess who was crossing his fingers?

Benj and Maurice taking a dunk while Josh taunts us

We played some seriously long games of UNO with Josh, and before bed attended a Q&A session with 4 thru-bikers crashing for the night.

More Zealand Falls pix when I have downtime another day…