The sun normally rises around 5.30am and on this morning I’m packed up and hiking by 5am. I descended into a tangled mess of weather hardened trees and shrubs as the sun started to rise. The rain yesterday made the leaves and moss a deeper shade of green. I stumbled along drinking my cold coffee and milk from my gatorade bottle.
When the trail exited the trees I must not have been paying attention. I hiked up to the summit of a mountain. But it was the wrong summit. I failed to notice the turn off a couple of minutes earlier. No matter, I stopped and took some photos.
Around 9am I turned up at one of the full service mountain huts. I filled up my water bottle and noticed lots of left over breakfast. I asked if they were planning on throwing it away. Moments later I was eating pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs.
For the first time in a while the trail was flat and fast as I exited Zealand Hut. There was a sharp descent to highway 302. I was running a little low on food so needed a couple of items to make it to my next resupply. My guidebook mentioned a commercial campground a couple of miles away with a descent campstore and the opportunity to take a shower and wash my clothes.
I hitch hiked to the campground to find the facilities were only for guests but the store was open to anyone. I topped up on food then got a lift back to the trail.
It was warm in the afternoon as I set about climbing to the top of Mt Webster. Before setting out I scattered my wet tent and other items on a sunny section of trail to dry and air out. The nearby stream was used to wash sweat soaked clothing.
I got a glimpse of the towering Mt Washington in the distance. That would be my goal the following day. It was getting late when I arrived at Nauman Campsite. It cost $10 for the privilege of setting up my tent. For that price I would receive a voucher for a soup and two baked goods at any of the paid huts in the Whites. Now that might come in handy a bit later.
The sun set on yet another long 14 hours of hiking. Another hiker arrived at sunset, it was Thumper, my old hiking buddy. Somehow, I’d got ahead of him.