Monday August 16th, 2021, 0945-1820
Kinsman Notch to Rt 25A, SOBO AT mm 408.6
5568 gain, 6555 loss
I had a lot of work to catch up on in the morning, so I was up early typing away. Lemongrass and Ninja Turtle were leaving to do a day hike of Moosilauke, the same mountain I would be climbing, so I got a ride into town with them. We all stopped at McDonald’s, where I selected items based on the highest calorie content. These were 2 sausage egg biscuits for $4 and 950 calories. I’m one of the few that uses the calorie info to find things on the high end.
I needed a ride back to the notch, so I walked Rt 112 past the intersection with 93 and stuck my thumb out at the first car, a subaru. It immediately pulled over. That was stupid easy. A man jumped out and asked if I was ok with sitting next to his 9 yro son…. and what if I wasn’t I laughed to myself? Ryan was taking Cam on his first backpacking trip up to Kinsman pond. They weren’t even going to Kinsman notch but went out of the way to take me there anyway. It was great to see the smile on Cam’s face, excited for his first camp out.
I had a big climb ahead of me leaving the notch. From 1900′ to 4800′ in a little under 4 miles. The first part followed alongside a beautiful waterfall coming down the slickrock. Bright green algae painted the sides. Numerous comments in the app along with a posted sign mentioned how dangerous and steep the trail was but I found it to be much easier than most of the rest of the stuff I’d been doing. Like the Kinsman climb, there were wood steps and gouged footholds in the rock for the steepest sections. I didn’t even blink twice when stepping from each foothold, though I could see how this could be a problem for those with a fear of heights.
The climb went by pretty quickly and shortly I was joining the masses on top. The weather was so perfect that everyone seemed to be out enjoying it. The summit felt unique among the others I had seen, with a huge grassy bald. I wanted to run around throwing a frisbee but the tundra plants are delicate, so it’s best to stay off them. The area gets enough use. Chet said that a timber rattlesnake was found up there, which seems pretty extreme. They’re only supposed to go as far north as Connecticut but with climate change, who knows.
I took my obligatory summit photo, which at least I didn’t have to stand in line for. I also did some Peakfinding. I could see many of the summits I’d been to in the Whites plus the prominent ones of the Green Mountains of Vermont. No longer could I see anything in Maine. Goodby for good Maine, at least for this trip.
I started the long descent to the valley, dropping all the way to 1000′. It seemed to take forever. Imagine how the NOBOs feel on this first big climb of the Whites. I passed some that looked nervous, asking me about details. There’s nothing I could really say to prepare them so I just encouraged them to keep on truckin’ and have fun!
I reached the 400 mile mark. I just started my 4th week on trail, so that means I hiked Maine and most of the Whites in 3 weeks. These parts usually take about 5 weeks, so I was feeling pretty good about that. I also felt eager to turn on the after-burners and get some bigger miles done. Because of my late start and the giant mountain I needed to go over, I had made little progress in the morning. But the trail finally started to resemble soft, smooth tread and my feet rejoiced. I managed to go another 10 miles in the late afternoon, in a time that would have previously taken half a day. The trail actually went through a meadow and then deciduous forest, typical of much lower elevations.
And guess what else was back in full force? Mosquitoes. Oh man did they chase me down and then absolutely swarm me when I stopped for camp. I was trying to collect water when I looked down at my legs to see about 20 of them descending on my flesh. Yikes! I pitched my tent in record time, threw everything inside including myself, and locked the doors for the night. My usual defense is to cover up but it’s so dang hot and humid, I can’t stand that either. Thank god for my tent…my 6′ by 4′ mosquito-free zone. Take away one challenge and another surely slips in to fill the void. Thanks AT.