Summary: 8/23 Liberty Spring Trailhead: 1816.5 Garfield Campsite: 1826.9 Total miles: 10.4 We had a late night so set no alarms and managed to sleep in until 8. Breakfast was a free for all to finish leftovers, boxes of cereal, and all the other food (such as cookies) that we hadn't been able to completely finish. We finally headed out after our slow morning at around 11:30. Before heading to the trail Patch wanted to grab some hook screws to help set up his non-freestanding tent on the possible tent pads we would use that night. Finally, we hit the trail head just after noon.
Before heading out we had to say our fond farewells to Spike and Bambi without whom the slackpacking, the resupply commuting, the cabin, and the general good times would not have been possible. They seriously are our saviors for this section and we will have to find some equally epic way to thank them when we become real people again. So, after many hugs and goodbyes, we hioed down the side trail back to the AT.
*Duck Fart on Drums, Patch on Bass, Huggables as Lead Singer, Bambi on Electric Violin, Spike on Keyboard and Dean as Backup Dancer
The first agenda item was to head up the Liberty Falls Trail. It was a pretty serious grade, but still not nearly as technical as our slack pack day over the Kinsmans. We chugged up the trail at a near 2 mph pace, took a few short breaks, and finally hit the spectacular Franconia Ridge. We would pass over a series of summits, but after the Liberty trail, our main climbing for the day was over. We passed over Little Haystack, Lincoln, and Lafayette and took short breaks at each to take in the views during our stretch of perfect weather. We also walked by several groups of freshmen in college orientation crews from Dartmouth (there may be close to a million Dartmouth students in the Whites), Yale, and Bowdoin.
*Lincoln in the background
*Patch and a stranger's dog
*Garfield in the background
After Lafayette we descended for a bit before the actual final climb of the day over Garfield. Even though it was a short day mileage wise, our legs were feeling fairly dead after the Garfield climb. Luckily our camp spot for the night was just on the other side of the Garfield summit. The official tent sites in the Whites are manned by caretakers, ours was Ryan, who collected $10 from all who stay. The caretakers do a lot of maintenance and organization at the sites, not the least of which is privy stirring. Ugh. The Whites get an incredible number of visitors annually so caretakers make sure the heavy use sites are up to snuff. They hikers get the perk that after the first stay, we get a card that gives us half off all future stays, free soup and two free baked goods from one hut (the more fancy whites accommodations which cost either significant work or the exorbitant cost of $120 per person per night).
*Tyler cleans Duck Fart's beard for the photo
We set up our tents on the tent platforms. Patch's screw hooks worked beautifully for his tent. We also had to all bust out that cold weather gear we recently picked up since it was quite chilly at our nearly 4000 feet above sea level tent site. We made dinner together near our tent (except Dean who had gotten too warm and cozy to move). We made it to bed as it approached pitch black amd we had some incredible stars. We were all safely and comfortably in our tents by 8:30, along with everyone else in the tentsite.