Ack! I woke up at 5am and had to pee. Of course I couldn't get back to sleep. I was wondering how long to let Beth sleep in. She was thinking that Manchester and a real bed sounded really good. But Manchester was 10.5 miles away and we would hit it on Saturday. So we wanted to get in early enough to find a room for the night. But my dilemma was quickly put to rest. One of the guys with us had an alarm that went off at 6:08. I know the exact time because the alarm was telling us. The guy was trying to find it and was having trouble. I couldn't help but giggle. And that woke Beth up and she started packing her sleeping bag. I guess she really did want to hike the 10.5 miles.
This morning was glorious. And no - the sun was sill not out. But it had been over 40 hours since the last rain and the trail was much easier to walk.
I've become a mud connoisseur. The worst mud is when it is hard packed underneath with a thin veneer of water on the top. When you step, your foot slips out from under you since you have no traction. The second worst is the really deep mud that has a thin coating of light colored clay on top. It almost looks like it is a rock, but when you stop there you sink - SQUISH. But today we had the perfect mud. It was almost dry and chunky. When you step on it, it holds its form so it doesn't soak into your shoes. In addition it is soft, so each step doesn't jar our sore feet, but cushions them.
Perfect mud. I never knew there was such a thing before this trip.
For the last week I have been so concentrated on where I put my feet. Slipping is bad, so you are very careful where you put your feet. So much less attention is paid to your surroundings. But today the mud was not so slick, so I could pay more attention to the world around us. And the forest is beautiful. On previous days there were tall hobblebushes on the trail. Today they were shorter and the forest was more open.
We were really trucking. Today we left the shelter just before 8am - our earliest day yet. And got to Prospect rock by 10:45. We sat on the rock and ate lunch #1. And we saw - drum roll - our first real view in a week. Yeah! It was hazy and there were clouds hanging over the mountains, but it was a view!
But then the weather gods decided I’d had enough excitement for the day and it started raining. It didn't rain long or hard, but just enough to make the trail slick.
So off we went, down the slick trail to Spruce Peak Shelter. At the shelter it started to really rain. Thunder boomed and it poured. We stayed for about an hour eating, resting and listening to the storm.
Then Beth had to make a decision. Do we stay here for the night out of the rain, or do we hike to NH 11/30 and Manchester in the pouring rain? The lure of a bed to sleep in was too much of a draw, so we packed up and headed out into the rain.
The trails were incredibly slick. I slipped numerous times but managed to stay upright. We finally made it to the road by 3:00. This was great time for us. We probably hiked 2mph for the whole 10.5 miles.
It didn't take long to get a ride into town. The gal that drove us in gave us her number and told us to call her if we couldn't find a place to stay. She didn't want us stranded with nowhere to sleep tonight. But she lived an hour out of town and we wanted to stay in town. So we thanked her and she let us off at the laundromat. But there was no place to change there out of our muddy stuff. And when I called Sutton's Place no one answered. So we just headed up in our hiking clothes i.e. mud caked up to our knees and SMELLY. I felt a little out of place among all the tourists of Manchester.
On the way we found a public restroom and changed into our town clothes (aka what we sleep in at night so our sleeping bags stay clean). Then hiked up to Suttons.
There was no room at the inn. I was disappointed but not surprised. But Bob was so sweet he called around for us and found a room at another place. I was just about to reserve it, but in walks Gray Jay and she tells us we can sleep in her room with Right On. They had a room with two twins and a queen. Beth and I shared the queen.
It was wonderful seeing Gray Jay again and Buckeye was here too and Odwalla.
Five of us went over to the Sirloin Saloon for dinner. We were starving. Beth ordered the lobster and steak, and I got the shrimp and steak. We gobbled it all down. Then Beth ordered the cheesecake and finished that too. She was stuffed.
So life is really good tonight - showers; a nice place to sleep; good company. It may be raining outside but it is dry here in bed.
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Text and images © Copyright 2003 Daphne Gould. If there are any problems or questions email Daphne Gould.