Bushcamp to Gorham and Wildcat Mountains (1891.5)
The gentle sound of the stream nearby my tent was so relaxing I slept in till near 7am. My hiking buddy Thumper was packed up as I stuck my head out of the tent. At least the weather was clear.
The first steps in the morning were a painful effort. Stiff ankles, knees and hip joints were only half the story. My legs muscles were fatigued to the point of having little strength on anything but a flat trail. It was time for a rest. By body is tired and this trail is so much harder than people give it credit. Definitely, the hardest of the three long trails.
Only a couple of hours hiking and we arrived at Pinkham Notch. An error on our part meant we missed the All You Can Eat Buffet Breakfast at the cafe attached to the visitors centre. Another hiker rolled out of there complaining of eating too much, a common issue among long distance hikers. It’s always hard, if not impossible to carry enough food to be satisfied while on the trail.
We called a hostel in the nearby town of Gorham to ask about rooms. They were fully booked up but could fit us in on the couch or we could pitch our tents in the garden. 15 minutes later, Paul from The Barn came to pick us up in a super sized 1986 Cadillac. They don’t make cars like this anymore.
I set up my tent, showered, did laundry and ate a large lunch then rested for the afternoon. My body is in need of several days rest.
The following day Thumper, myself and 3 other hikers organised to slackpack the Wildcat Mountains. Paul from the barn dropped us off at Pinkham Notch at 8am. We had a 21 mile hike. Paul would pick us up at highway 2 and shuttle us back to the hostel later in the day. This is called slackpacking, it’s common to hike in this way on the Appalachian Trail. It’s my first time doing such a thing.
Carrying only my pack, rain gear, first aid, toilet paper, water bottle, filter, camera and snacks meant I had a light pack for the day. The first climb of the day confirmed it was a good idea. At times it was rock climbing, not hiking. Added to this was the slippery rocks which added to the slow but careful pace.
By lunchtime we had covered less than 1/3 of the distance. It was going to be a long day. Luckily, the trail got easier the further we went. By late afternoon the trail became more like the PCT, nicely maintained and with a gentle grade. With only a mile or so to go a huge storm passed overhead. Within seconds we were all drenched. Paul to the rescue with the Cadillac.
The following morning Thumper and I were exhausted and unable to find the motivation to get out on trail. Our bodies were just too beaten up and tired. The Wildcat Mountains had beaten us up. We took the day off. An extended breakfast, lunch and dinner with just enough time for an afternoon siesta was everything the mind and body needed. Besides, there was heavy rain for most of the day. It was just enough rest to hopefully get us to the end of the trail, less than 300 miles to go.
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