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AT 2017: Day 144, Crawford Notch to Nauman Tentsite

Am I the victim or the crime?

Hike with Gravity

I’m not sure what happened to the storm we were forecast to get, but it didn’t pass through Crawford Notch last night. The wind picked up a little, but we didn’t get a lot of rain.

When we woke up this morning the sky was partly cloudy without a hint of more rain to come.

Weather Mostly cloudy and windy, with gusts of up to 60 mph, a high temperature in the low 50s
Trail Conditions A long, steep ascent, then continued ups and down over rocky terrain
Today's Miles 6.4 miles
Trip Miles 1,850.8 miles

If there hadn’t been bad weather in the forecast, I’m not sure I would have chosen to stay at Crawford Notch Campground. Just the same, I won’t complain about it. We made the best decision we could with the information we had.

The cabin we rented was far from luxurious, but at least it had one advantage. It gave me a chance to elevate my ankle and rest it.

We were also able to buy breakfast at the camp store, so that was another plus.

While we were at the store we checked the forecast. It was going to be windy and cold today, but not much chance of rain.

Conditions on Mt. Washington, which is where we would be heading in a couple days, looked brutal: below freezing temperatures with extreme wind gusts.

After eating breakfast we walked back to the cabin to finish packing, then walked to the road for a ride back to the trail. We figured it wouldn’t be difficult to hitchhike from the front of the store.

We didn’t need to do that, though. About the time we reached the road, a lady pulled up to the camp store to use the pay phone.

With an ulterior motive of hoping she would offer to drive us to the trailhead, I struck up a conversation with her. When she didn’t immediately offer to drive us, I asked her. She seemed slightly reluctant at first, but then agreed to take us. She needed to make a stop on the way to let her daughter know where she was going, she added.

I wondered if she had done this as a protective measure. Did she think we were a couple of hobos about to rob and kill her?

Up the road she made a quick stop at her house to tell her daughter where she was going. Once we were back on the road, she told us she likes to hike and thought about doing a thru-hike.

That was a relief. I guess she didn’t think we were murderous drifters.

Once we were dropped off and returned to the trail, Ralph and I began a long, steep climb up Mt. Webster.

I know I have described many climbs as long and steep, especially most of those here in the White Mountains. This climb, however, was in a class all its own. We climbed 2,654 feet in 3.4 miles.

True to form for the Whites, there were almost no switchbacks.

A couple rock outcroppings called Webster Cliffs appeared along the way up. They offered incredible views of Crawford Notch.

Going up, we met a hiker coming down the mountain. He said he was a SOBO (southbound) thru-hiker and his trail name was Still Will.

He claimed to be the last SOBO hiker on the trail. Considering it was September 1 and he was now only halfway through New Hampshire, this seemed to be an accurate statement.

The top of Mt. Webster provided more spectacular views. By this point, though, the wind was whipping strongly over the peak. We decided to not venture too far out to the ledge to peer into Crawford Notch. We had gotten good views of the notch already, and now was not a time to be blown off the mountain.

Webster is considered to be the start of the Presidential Range, though the mountain’s namesake, Daniel Webster, failed in his attempts to become president.

From Mt. Webster, we made a modest climb over 1.4 miles to Mt. Jackson. Or I should say, the climb started out modestly. You could even call it flat.

The easy walk lasted only a few minutes, though, before we were back to climbing. There were a couple spots where I had to take a moment to look at the rocks ahead of me and work out a strategy for going up.

On one of these climbs, a wind gust knocked me down. I told Ralph that was fall number 34. Yes, I had kept count since I left Springer Mountain in Georgia.

He questioned whether it was a good idea for me to do that, and I agreed. For my morale's sake it was probably best that I don’t continue adding up the number of times I fall.

When we reached the summit of Mt. Jackson, we got a clear view of Mt. Washington, far off in the distance.

Jackson is 4,052 feet high. It is part of the Presidential Range, but it is not named for Andrew Jackson. It is actually named for Charles Jackson, who was a physician and scientist in the 1800s.

After leaving the summit, the trail didn’t descend much, but instead continued across a long section of alpine terrain.

This section included a large bog. Puncheons were laid along the trail to not only prevent hikers from sinking in mud, but to also protect fragile alpine plants.

Shortly after 4 p.m., Ralph and I arrived at Mizpah Springs Hut. This was operated in the same way as other Appalachian Mountain Club huts, but with one difference. A campsite was located nearby that was also operated by AMC.

We stopped first at the hut to buy some soup and check the weather forecast. The hut receives forecasts twice a day from an observatory on top of Mt. Washington.

We learned that 94 mph winds had been recorded overnight on Mt. Washington.

After finishing our soup, Ralph and I walked the short distance to Nauman Tentsite. We were greeted by Quinn, an AMC employee who works as caretaker for the campsite. She led us to a wooden platform where we were to pitch our tents.

I was happy to discover that JP was here. I had not seen him since Stick and I had stopped with him at a diner in Dalton, Mass.

After setting up my tent I checked my phone and found I had cell service. There was a message waiting for me from Stick.

He said he had gone off the trail because he had been concerned about the storm forecast. He made his way back to The Notch Hostel and was taking a zero there.

I texted back and told him of our plans. Ralph and I thought we would only go as far as Lakes of the Clouds Hut tomorrow. With luck and good weather, Stick could catch up with us there.

Later I got another message. This one was from my wife Kim, who was asking about a couple credit card charges. I decided it best to call her right back.

Kim told me she had discovered two charges to Virgin Mobile for the purchase of cellphones. When she saw the first she thought maybe I had somehow needed to replace my phone, though this seemed odd because we use Verizon. A charge for a second phone told her something wasn’t right, but she thought it best to confirm this with me before contacting the credit card company.

No, I told her. I had not bought any cell phones and this was definitely credit card fraud. I had only used my credit card once in the last couple weeks, not counting the charge for the trekking poles I bought, which probably won’t appear on the statement for a few more days.

The last time I used the card was when I paid for the dinner with Felix, Stick and Stitches.

No wonder the waitress was so nice.

Once again, Kim had to deal with a mess while I was gone. Gratefully, though, I knew she could handle it well without me, so I didn’t worry about it.

Ralph and I wondered again about the weather for the next couple days. It had turned very cold tonight, but at least the wind had died down some.

What it is to face this fever
As the full moon pales and climbs
Am I living truth or rank deceiver
Am I the victim or the crime
Am I the victim or the crime
Am I the victim or the crime
Or the crime


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine." ref.