Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Crawford Path to Mizpah Hut

Well, our friends arrived late last night from Nashville and stayed at Joe Dodge Lodge at Pinkham Notch.  We were up and out early this morning to have breakfast with them.  It’s always good to see friends.

Because we were out so early, we saw wildlife.  We got our first moose sighting since arriving in “moose country”.  It wasn’t the classic bull moose with the big antlers standing in a pond, but rather a mom and calf grazing by the highway.  By the time we got pulled over onto the shoulder and I got my camera out, they had wandered back into the woods.  Oh well, at least we finally saw moose.

There was a red fox in the parking lot as we pulled into the AMC complex at Pinkham Notch.  I’ve been trying for years to get a picture of a red fox.  They’re always too fast for me.  Once they hear our rumbling diesel engine, they’re gone.  This little fellow seemed quit content to be wandering among the parked cars.

First order of business was breakfast.  There is a small cafeteria at the Visitor Center which serves an all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast.  It’s just what the hunger hikers want.  We loaded up on bacon, eggs, home fries, pancakes, yogurt, fruit, and granola.  Then, we crowned this massive pile of food with homemade cranberry/orange scones.  Cup after cup of java helped to wash it all down.

We finally had to drag ourselves away from the table and the conversation in order to get moving toward the trial.  Herb, Dwight, and Geoff were starting just south of Crawford Notch where the AT crosses route 302.  It was about a 30 minute drive from Pinkham Notch to Crawford Notch.

We loaded all the packs and their other gear in the truck.  They’re staying at three of the AMC huts as they hike across the presidential range.  Because they’re staying at the huts which provide dinner, breakfast, and a bed to sleep in, they are not carrying as much gear as they will after this initial section.  We are holding this additional gear until next Saturday when they come down from Madison Hut to Pinkham Notch.  Five people, five packs, and two large duffle bags just about filled up the truck.  It was a cozy ride to Crawford Notch.

We put those boys out at the trail and watched with a little envy as they crossed the road and headed up the mountain.

Visitor Center in an old train depot

Before we could get out of the small parking lot at the trail, two other thru-hikers came out of the woods.  Whenever we see hikers on the road we ask if they need a ride, so I rolled down the window and ask.  They didn’t need a ride; they were heading on up the trail, however, they sure could use a cold drink.  I dug in the cooler for the two ice cold colas which we always take for our after hike treat and handed them over.  This afternoon, after our hike, I sure missed having that coke.

AMC Center at Crawford Notch

Our next stop was at the AMC center at Crawford Notch.  Crawford Notch is sort of the “headquarters” for the AMC White Mountain operation.  There is a lodge here, an information center, and a large conference center.  The main building for hut supplies is also located here.

After a few minutes there, we headed for our hike.  We were taking Crawford Path up to Mizpah Hut.  We wanted to surprise Herb, Dwight, and Geoff by being there when they arrived.  Mizpah was their destination for tonight.

Upper Gibbs Falls along Crawford Path

The Appalachian Trail has a reputation among its hikers for the numerous “pointless ups and downs”.  In this area, not only does it go up and down, it also goes around in circles.  In it’s traverse of the Presidential Range, the AT goes over just about all the highest peaks.  Today, our boys went over Mt Jackson on their 7 mile hike to Mizpah Hut.  Gene and I got to Mizpah via Crawford Path which is a lot less steep and only a third of the distance.  We waited at the hut for nearly two hours, but Herb and crew did not arrive before we had to leave.

Napping while waiting

Somebody we did see that we certainly didn’t expect to was Eddie Bear.  We had met him while hiking in Maryland.

Because we waited so long hoping to see Herb, et al, we were late getting home.  We had quick showers, then dinner, and now we are ready to crawl into bed.  It was a long day, but a very nice day.  Life is so good.

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