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AT from MT Washington to Crawford Notch, NH

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I'm not sure about the dates of this trip. I stopped keeping trip logs and pictures around this time because I did not think that I would ever have a web site again. Now I wish I had. Anyway, I was still upset about what happened to me on the AT in NH in 2010. I wanted to keep hiking the AT to achieve my goal of section hiking the whole thing. But I was scared to do it

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alone. I needed something to get my confidence back. So when I read about the AMC offering guided backpacking trips along the AT, I decided to sign up for one. Here is how it went.

On 07/24/2012 I drove up to Pinkham Notch, NH. I got there a day early so that I could tent camp at the Dolly Copp Campground. This was a forest service campground that is located on NH16 between the AMC Visitors Center and the US2 junction near Gorham, NH. When I registered at the campground the attendent told me that there was a female moose hanging around the campground, that she wasn't threatening and to just be aware of her.

So she booked me into an area with no other campers in sight. I didn't mind as I like solitude. I set up my tent, walked around a bit, then made dinner. While eating dinner at the picnic table at my campsite I looked up and about 30 feet away from me a huge moose was staring at me! This was the first time that I had actually seen a moose. While hiking the AT further south I saw a lot of their "chocolate Easter eggs" on the trail. And I saw a lot of boggy areas where it looked like moose had tramped through. But this was the first time that I had seen one in the flesh.

So I fumbled to get my cell phone out to take a picture and slowly moved out to the road to get a better view. She looked to be 8-10 feet tall. However, the moose slowly turned away and started walking down the access road and towards the mountains. I thought "Wow, this has been a good day!" I would see 2 more moose on my next trip to this area. So I retired and had a peaceful night in my tent.

The next day, 07/25/2012 I went to the AMC Visitors Center at Pinkham Notch just up the street. I met the leaders of the trip as well as the other participants. There were 10 or 11 other people of various ages and with various amounts of backpacking experience. We ate dinner together in the dining hall. Then, we assembled in a building behind the lodge with our gear. The hike leaders would check our packs and advise what we could eliminate to save weight. I eliminated a few things but my pack was pretty light. It felt weird backpacking without a tent or sleeping bag. After this exercise we retired for the night.

On 07/26/2012 we ate breakfast and boarded an AMC van along with our gear. It was somewhat overcast but the weather was OK. We then proceeded to drive the auto road up to Mount Washingon. I thought that we were going to the summit but the van stopped at a trail head about a quarter mile from the summit. I wondered why? When they opened the doors of the van I saw why. It was very windy and was spitting rain. When I say windy, I mean windy. I am guessing that the gusts were approaching 70 miles per hour. How do I know this? Because one of these gusts literally knocked me over and caused a young lady that was part of the group to scream. I was OK. It was only about a mile from where we were dropped off to Lakes of the Clouds Hut, where we would be staying that night. The weather got better as we approached the hut. However, there was a tough up at one point. We would scramble to the top of Tuckermans Ravine. It was a big bowl that attacted skiers in the winter. What was really interesting was that there was STILL a few patches of snow observed within this bowl. And this was July! We came over a ridge and started to descend. In the distance we saw 2 ponds and the hut. This was our destination for the night. This hut held about 50 people. It was like a small town. We ate dinner, then I just hung around outside the hut. I saw the basement where the thru hikers stayed for free. People were just milling around. It reminded me of being at an outpost on a distant planet. That evening I had the pleasure of sharing the bunk room with 6 or 7 other ladies. Nice.

The next day, 07/27/2012, our goal was 4.7 miles and the Mitspah Spring Hut. We had a nice breakfast prepared at the hut by the "croo". Then we started out southbound on the AT. It was a nice day out. We were ridging most of the way. There would be some slight ups and some slight downs. but the terrain was OK. Since we were above tree line it felt like we were walking on the moon. There were some rocky parts of the trail that made your ankles smart. All was well until the last half mile. I believe we had to descend Mount Clinton. The down was rocky, crappy trail that took forever to navigate. My ankles were really burning after this descent. Towards the bottom we dropped below tree line and then came upon Mitzpah Spring Hut. It was smaller than Lakes of the Clouds. The the croo was equally great and the food there was fantastic. I walked around and over to the adjacent Mitzpah Spring Campsite. They had tent platforms and again, this was where most of the thru hikers stayed. I again slept well that night.

On the final day, 07/28/2012 we took a alightly different and shorter way from the Hut to the Highland House parking lot. It was along the Mount Clinton

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Trail. It was mostly downhill and couldn't have been more than 3 or 4 miles in length. There was an AMC van waiting for us. It took us back to Joe Dodge Lodge and then the guided hike was over. I really enjoyed this hike and felt that it restored my confidence in my abilities as a backpacker. I didn't want to start driving home so I drove over to a campground in Gorham and spent the night there.

On 07/29/2012 I packed up the tent and drove home to VA. It was here that I had a sore back that morning from sleeping on the ground and decided that I wanted to get an RV. 4 months later, I bought a used Cruise America 24 foot class C RV, which I have enjoyed immensely. The number of backpacking trips that I took would be nil between that day and 2015. But the backpacking bug would come back eventually.

Mike C

Sorry, no pictures for this one. I thought that I took some but, unfortionately, did not keep them.

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