Kinsman Notch: 1800.4
Liberty Springs Trailhead: 1816.5
Total miles: 16.1
Duck Fart's breakfast was indeed a masterpiece. We had sausage, bacon, potatoes and vegetables, and scrambled eggs with more vegetables. Vegetables are in short supply in all of our trail meals and we were enjoying them now in abundance. We also had a fair share of sugary cereals as dessert (Cap'n Crunch, Cinammon Toast Crunch, and Reeses Puffs).
After breakfast, we moved all of our gear that would be left behind while we slack pack to the basement since Duck Fart was unable to contact his friend to see if the place had actually been rented. We figured getting stuff out of sight (and out of scent) was probably a decent compromise.
Bambi and Spike, who had also lent sweet slack packs to the two of us, got us to the trail by 9:30. They were going to explore the area for the afternoon, as we climbed over the worst rocks and slowest trail we have experienced yet.
The first climb of the day was up Mt. Wolf. The climb was terrifically slow, though not steep, and offered only one viewpoint that took a side trail to get to. Once again, despite fairly chilly temperatures, we were all soaked by the end of the climb. Taking off one's sweaty backpack now means putting back on a frozen one.
We passed a fair number of nobos during the day, all of which seemed unable to speak in full sentences. The sobos, which are diminishing, still seem very positive. We've heard a number of them excitedly proclaim that the worst is over and that everything after the White Mountains would be easier from then on. We don't have the heart to tell them that physical challenges, even in the Whites, aren't the worst of their problems. Ten days of rain in the green tunnel four months in, that's going to be the real deal breaker. Some advice that Dean got from a sobo the day before seems to highlight that. After Dean did 21 miles over Moosilauke to catch us, a sobo said that he should be able to handle the 100 mile wilderness in 6-7 days. They don't seem to realize that we have done 100 mile sections in 5 or even 4 days just to escape certain sections of the trail. Maybe they know more about foot pain than we did hiking 23 mile days in Pennsylvania, but we are skeptical. These sorts of conversations seem to be the origin of the imagined animosity between nobos and sobos. Sobos excited to share advice from what they've learned, and nobos who've learned that there is really no good advice besides just keep going.
After endless ups and downs heading over Mt. Wolf we stopped for lunch at Eliza Brook Shelter. Patch ran into some friends, Wherever and Fast Eddie, that he caught up to after hundreds of miles. It was nice to witness a reunion. We continued on from the shelter up South Kinsman. The hike up was slow. As one hiker described, we had to solve a Rubicks cube to get through some sections. After the slow climb this time though, we were paid off with views off the summit of North Kinsman. The hike to North Kinsman was short, and again we were heading sharply done from the summits we had worked hard to climb.
Duck Fart had pointed out the various spots we would be hiking to and the next major one was Lonesome Lake. We took a short break at the hut to fill up on water (potable water spigots!) And eat some snacks. Morale was a bit low since every climb had taken longer than hoped. Also, Patch had learned that his great aunt Pearl had passed away at the age of 104 and he was upset that he found out from an impersonal Facebook post than a call or anything else. We hoped the cabin at the end of the day (and hopefully avoiding the constantly threatening gray clouds) would help him out.
We finally make it to the Liberty Spring trailhead where Spike and Bambi were waiting, at around 6:30. We stopped at the grocery store quickly to pick up supplies for the next couple of days. Sadly our cabin time would already come to an end because the cabin owners sister needed the property.
*Spike & Bambi
On the ride back the rain finally started and we laughed at the rare piece of luck. Patch, grilling extraordinaire, seemed bolstered by the rain as he cooked steaks, asparagus, and cucumber (turns out grilled cucumber is great) in the night's downpour. Tyler and Emily made bruschetta (inside) and we ate a thru hiker feast the likes of which we had not had in our 1800 mile experience thus far.
In turned into quite the night of food and relaxation. We tried to stay up a bit later since we planned a shorter day the next day, but exhaustion got the better of everyone. Emily, looking for a quick lie down, fell asleep for the rest of the night at around 10:30, and Tyler could quite make it to midnight. Still, we got another night of clean clothes, showers, and insulated walls.