July 6. We had stealth camped near a visitors center and lodge so I wanted to be up early and on the move. Besides, today was a Trail Friday and Rafiki and I planned to get into Gorham in the afternoon! I woke up around 5 AM and started packing my gear. When I got out of my tent I looked around and realized we had camped 30 feet from a building! Oops! I headed over to make sure Rafiki was up and found him in his tent a mere 30 feet from the cars in the parking lot. I guess when you stealth camp you think you are being slick and staying hidden, but when the sun comes up you see the truth! While Rafiki packed his gear I started up the Wildcat Cliffs, or as I was calling them, the Coyotes. It was a very grueling 2,500 foot climb to start the day. On the ridge we passed a gondola and a ski patrol office. No one was there but Rafiki needed water and he tried to get in to get some but he couldn’t fit through the window. We had filled our bottles at the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center but it was some of the worst tasting water we had tried on the trail. It was times like this that I was glad I had flavor packets to hide the horrible town water taste. After the Coyotes (Wildcats) we dropped down to the Carter Notch Hut. This would be the last hut we would pass so we stopped in and the staff served up a full plate of pork for us. Whatever isn’t eaten in the hut eventually needs packed out as trash so the hut staff likes to unload extra food on thru-hikers, and we like to help! After a good break, and some nice tasting water, we started the straight up climb out of the notch. This 1,400 foot climb made me even more tired! We crossed a rocky ridge and had some great views of the Presidentials. In the morning the sky was completely clear, not a single cloud, and we could easily see the summit of Mount Washington. It was the kind of day you would want for Mount Washington, as opposed to the cloudy day that we had yesterday for our summit visit. By midday though a cloud had covered the top of the mountain again. We made our way along the ridge slowly…the rock steps up and down were all more of a scramble, we were not having fun. When we took a break at the IMP Shelter we were a few hours behind our planned schedule but moved on to make it to Gorham as soon as possible. On town days I llike to get into town in the early afternoon so I have time to get my laundry and resupply done and then relax. It was starting to look like we would be rolling into town after dinner, bummer. One more 1,000 foot climb and more tough rocky downhill. The last mile or two was nice and flat and we hit the road at 7 PM. It had been a 13 hour hiking day for me and we only covered 21 miles. The White Mountains were really hard but we were happy to be hiking some good miles still. We stood on the side of the road and threw our thumbs up and the second car that passed picked us up! Finally, some good luck for the day! We were both extremely tired and beat up from the day and the car dropped us off at the McDonald’s front door. We got dinner and headed to the hotel and checked in. We both took a shower and then hiked our dirtly clothes to the laundramat. While the washer ran Rafiki walked to Burger King and picked us each up another value meal for second dinner. When the clothes were clean and the dinners done we walked back to the hotel and I kicked back with a few good beers and let my feet finally relax! The White Mountains had slowed us down a bit…they were definitely the hardest section of trail I have done so far, and I was beat up. We finished the day in Gorham at mile 1,886, with 298 miles to go! Under 300! We would be crossing the Maine state line in 15 miles…3 more planned town resupplies, and the 100 Mile Wilderness. We are getting closer!
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