I’ve now entered the White Mountains of New Hampshire, which is supposed to be basically the toughest terrain of the entire trail. I had a good time finishing up Vermont, although the climbs started getting tougher at the end. So far Vermont and Virginia have been my two favorite states because they’re both pretty and interesting, but also not too hard.
At the very end of Vermont I got a visit from my friend Amy, who hiked with me for a while but had to get off trail. It was really good to see her and her adorable dog, and it relieved some of the loneliness that can come with hiking alone. She slackpacked me for two days and took me on a mini-vacation to visit Bar Harbor, Maine. Bar Harbor is a beautiful little ocean town that was full of amazing views. We also got to camp in and drive through Acadia National Park! It was pretty cool to be off trail to get to see someplace new, especially on the coast. Seeing Amy gave me a little morale boost that will definitely make these next 375 miles easier.
New Hampshire has had a lot of ups and downs, both literally and figuratively. I’m barely into the White Mountains, and the climbs have already gotten extreme. They can be fun because there’s a lot of rock climbing, but that gets tough and dangerous when it’s wet or you’re going down. My mileage has also already started dropping a lot, and it’s probably just going to keep getting lower. However, these mountains are also beautiful and unlike anything else I’ve seen on trail. Down South our mountains are just as big, but because the climate is milder we have much less variety in vegetation and there’s not really a tree line. Up here there’s literally vegetation that’s only found in these mountains and in the arctic, and due to the cold many peaks and ridges are well above treeline.
Probably the worst thing that’s happened to me on trail happened yesterday morning when I realized that I had lost my wallet. I’d been at a hostel for the past two nights, and it got lost somehow yesterday evening after I came back from slackpacking (hiking with no pack). I tore apart everywhere looking for it, but with no luck. I was trying not to panic and hoping that at least my bank could get me some cash so I could hike while I had a new card rushed to somewhere a few days ahead of me, but my bank a) said they couldn’t get me any cash since there were no branches nearby, b) that they don’t have a rush option for new cards, and c) that they would only send it to my old address in Brooklyn (screw you, Amalgamated). Some sections of the trail I would be comfortable hiking with no money, but the Whites have lots of campsites you have to pay to stay at and I’m not sure how fast I’ll be able to go so if need be I want to be able to stretch my food by buying things at those campsites and the lodges scattered along the trail. After lots of stressing and time spent on the phone and the internet, I was able to get things somewhat sorted out. Another hiker gave me cash in exchange for me venmoing him, then at my next stop in a few days I’ll have my passport (thanks Mom) and two credit cards in the mail so I’ll be much better off. Thankfully this hostel also let me do work for stay today, which only consisted of walking the owner’s dog, so I didn’t have to stress about having a place to stay when I didn’t have a way to pay for it.
Even though we’re still in the Appalachian Mountains, the culture surrounding the mountains seems to be very different up here in New England. Instead of being referred to as the Appalachians, the mountains are always referred to in smaller increments like the Berkshires or the Greens or the Whites. And it’s not quite the same way as people refer to the Blue Ridge, it feels like people actually think they’re separate mountain ranges (I’ll admit that previously I thought at least the Berkshires were a totally different range). Businesses and organizations will always include the name of the smaller segment rather than say “Appalachian”. These areas have also been full of tourists, which is clearly the main industry in a lot of them. It makes me wonder if they distance themselves from the label Appalachian to distance themselves from stereotypes about the region and be able to attract more wealthy, urban visitors or if it’s simply that culturally different up here from Southern and Central Appalachia. My guess is that it’s a combination of the two.
All in all I’m really excited to be so close to finishing, even though this terrain will slow me down more than I expected. It’s been interesting getting to experience such a new place, and I look forward to seeing the rest of the Whites.
Janis’s ears flap in the wind