Monday, August 25, 2014

White Mountain National Forest

Even though Moosilauke is the unofficial entry to the Whites, the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) officially administers the region from Kinsman Notch to Grafton Notch (in ME). The AT climbs steeply out of Kinsman notch but once up on the ridgeline there are some great views across Franconia Notch to the Franconia ridge.

From this view you see Mt. Lafayette on the left, Mt. Lincoln center, and Little Haystack to the right, all points along the dramatic Franconia ridge. I was fortunate to stay in a practically brand new shelter at Eliza Brook about halfway through the 16mi from Kinsman to Franconia notches. It's one of the finest-made shelters I've ever seen, defintely craftsman quality carpentry. I was told it was built and assembled in a shop, then disassembled, flown in by helicopter and reassmbled on site. There are virtually no spaces between the logs and they used burls and grains for decorative touches. Plus it sits in a beautiful spot right next to a fast mountain stream.

Heading north, the Kinsman mountains (N & S) were a much bigger challenge. The trail on both sides is extremely steep and dangerous and involves a lot of scrambling and climbing rock faces. There are rebar handles and steps, mostly on the north side but it's still a difficult and nerve-wracking passage.  In one spot the trail builders thought it would be fun to descend through the middle of a waterfall. Hahahaha. Not. Notice the white blazes marking the trail.
The last stretch of AT before the notch passes the first of the huts at Lonesome Lake, then it's a gradual down to US3 and the visitors' center. I took a much needed rest in North Woodstock after six days of hiking but only 68 miles.

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