Day 111, 8/17/23
0 miles, mile 1,756
Wow was it good to wake up in my bed knowing I did not need to hike today. I had a slow morning, made breakfast and coffee and then headed over to my best friend Kate’s house. She just had a baby last week and I was able to go spend the whole day with her and holding her new baby all day on the couch. I missed spending time with her and now she is a Mom! I got home around 6:30pm and relaxed the rest of the night.
Day 112, 8/18/23
0 miles, mile 1,756
Today was an unplanned zero, but with the rain we decided we did not want to be out hiking in it. I had myself another wonderful relaxing day! I can’t say I’m too excited to hike tomorrow. The fact we are going to be slackpacking for a couple days and will be going home each night does make it a little better though.
Day 113, 8/19/23
Hanover, NH to Smarts Mountain Trailhead
19.5 miles, mile 1,775.5
I drove my car up to the Smarts Mountain Trailhead and Mom and Kevin met me there. It was way out in the boonies on all sorts of dirt roads with no service. Then, I got in the van and Mom took both Kevin and I back to downtown Hanover to where she picked us up two days ago. As we were walking through Dartmouth the football and women’s soccer teams were out having their preseason practices. Then we went up into the woods and started climbing right away.
We booked it today! It took us exactly 7 hours to hike the 19.5 miles. The elevation was just under 5,000 feet, but it didn’t seem too bad. Probably because we just took two zeros and have fresh legs. Although we were moving very quickly, there were A LOT of trail runners today. Thru hiking the Appalachian Trail is a humbling experience in itself, but what’s even more humbling is when you’re slack packing going up a 2,000 foot steep climb and people RUNNING up it pass you. I’ve hiked almost 1,800 miles and am still huffing and puffing at the slightest incline.
Near the end of the day we could see Smarts Mountain from the ledges. It is always so intimidating to see what you need to climb looming over you. We have that climb first thing in the morning tomorrow. From the same ledges we could see this one lone house in the woods that looked so beautiful. I am jealous of them for sure.
Day 114, 8/20/23
Smart Mountain Trailhead to Ore Hill Trailhead
18.9 miles, mile 1,794.4
This morning I drove back up to the Smarts Mountain Trailhead with Kevin and then Mom will pick us up tonight, take us back to the Smarts Mountain Trailhead and then we will both drive back home. Being able to slackpack and get home every night to a shower and my bed feels more amazing than words could explain. Even with this luxury I was on the struggle bus today. Although the hike was a similar length and elevation (about 5,200 today), it felt harder. I think the climbs themselves were just steeper. Smarts Mountain was quite the “welcome to NH” climb with very steep sections, iron rungs, and wet rock slabs, but we were rewarded with pretty views from the fire tower. Once we climbed down the other side of the mountain we crossed a road and immediately began climbing up Mt. Cube. This name sounded familiar to me and I had a feeling it is on the NH 52 With a View list, and it is! This climb was also very steep but had some fun rock slabs to climb up.
When we were almost to the top we ran into Espresso! We hadn’t seen him in a couple weeks and he let us know his wife fell and broke her wrist so she got off trail. I always hate hearing that because this morning climbing up Smarts Mountain I took a pretty hard fall on a wet log. I was luckily okay, just got a scrape and bruise on my shin. But it’s scary to think that if I had fallen slightly different I also could have broken something!
There were lots of people and pups on the summit of Mt. Cube, and a lot of thru hikers as well. We took a decent break up here enjoying the sunshine and view. It was very smoky from the wildfires. Tomorrow I only have 14.4 miles planned, but there is still 5,000 feet of gain! Home sweet home!
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