Franconia Ridge

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Aug 22 , 1983 Monday (370.9 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

Up early to beat any rain, if I could, this morning. Within a mile I made a sharp left and began traversing the long Franconia Ridge. Most of the hiking would be above treeline and exposed to the elements. I did not get up early enough to catch the sunrise, but the morning was beautiful none-the-less. The sky was just clear enough to get a view, but it looked as though bad weather was on the way.

From the point of attaining the ridge, the trail dipped for about a mile in a slight descent before continuing on a climb culminating at the summit of Mt Lafayette, the mountain I had photographed in all its' splendor over Lonesome Lake. But first, the trail took me over Little Haystack, and then up to the summit of Mt. Lincoln. Although the clouds remained at a low ceiling, the views were more spectacular than any so far on the trail. The clean, crisp mountain air invigorated my spirits as I made my way across the open mountaintops. I prayed for the rain to hold off. Near the summit of Lafayette, I met a couple of hikers who had spent the night at Greenleaf Hut a mile down the mountainside on a different trail.

Descending off of Lafayette across the Garfield Ridge, I became concerned that I had gone the wrong way since I had not seen any blazes lately. I backtracked a bit and met the previously mentioned hikers again, and discussed the situation with them. There had been clear trail, but no blazes. Figuring that we were still on the trail I continued and eventually found a very old, faint blaze at a junction farther down the trail. I was on track. Views back toward Franconia Ridge from the Garfield Ridge and Mt Garfield itself were equally stunning despite the low clouds. At least I could see something, unlike when I went over Mt Moosilauke.

The descent off of Mt. Garfield involved yet another steep grade, but the distance was only about one mile. From there the next couple of miles were much more tame. As I approached Galehead Hut, one of the huts located directly beside the trail, tiny raindrops began to fall. I met a couple of southbounders on their way out after a hearty breakfast of pancakes - the leftovers from this morning that I would not get since they beat me to them. I just entered the premises at Galehead when a cold downpour developed in the mountain skies. The wind picked up and the trail was quickly transformed into a climate not fit for man nor beast. I really did not want to go on in this kind of weather, yet I had only come just over ten miles. I mulled around a bit waiting to see what the weather would do, and then finally decided to stay when I found out that they had room for the night. I really did not want to pay the price the AMC was charging either, but grudgingly gave in and got out the travelers checks. Total bill of $25.75 for supper, lodging, and breackfast. Suddenly my luck changed when one of the croo decided that it was time to do what no one really wants to do - work with human feces. I was told if I helped out with "certain chores", I would be reimbursed. I stayed for "free" as a result of helping out in the kitchen, and helping them "snap a crapper" as they called it. Snapping the crapper involved using a couple of sturdy poles to lift a 55 gallon drum of human waste from the toilet area and hauling it over to an area where, at some point down the road, a helicopter would come and transport it down to the valley - never to be seen again. I retained the receipt and present it as proof that one night in an AMC hut almost cost me about 3% percent of my budget for the entire trip.

All in all I ate well, kept dry, met many nice people, including Bruce Emerson and his gorgeous daughter and her girl friends. I also met someone who claimed to have hiked the Continental Divide Trail.

Back in Illinois, Mom took the package of goodies she had been gathering, including $150 in money orders, and sent it out airmail to Gorham, New Hampshire. I would arrive there in about five days. (cost $5.92)(see postal receipt)

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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