Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hiking, Biking, and Shopping

The day started out with a triathlon, but that’s not the highlight of the day.  The best part of the day was our dinner with our hiking buddies, so I’ll start with that.

Herb, Dwight, and Geoff traversed the Presidential Range and returned to Pinkham Notch to tell the tale.  After we dropped the boys off at Crowford Notch last Wednesday, they made the slow, difficult climb to Mizpah Springs Hut.  They apparently arrived at the hut just minutes after we left.  Sorry we missed them.

Tired, but happy.

The next 2 days, they were on the ridge above timberline as they made their way first to Lake of the Clouds Hut then to Madison Hut going over or skirting several of the highest peaks in the range.  They report a difficult walk across the ridge, not so much for the elevation gain, but for the rocks.  They had good weather, but were in and out of the clouds (fog) as they went over Mt Washington.  Yesterday, they left Madison Hut and, first, made the very difficult climb over Mt Madison, then down to Pinkham Notch.  We had heard from other hikers that is was a very hard section of trail and our friends confirmed it to be the most difficult hike they had ever done.

We arrived at Pinkham Notch after they had had showers and a few minutes of rest.  There were a few limps in their steps, a little sunburn on their faces, and a few sore knees, but they looked great and were in good spirits.  The spirits were somewhat lifted after a cold beer, but the pain remained.  Geoff was only doing this section, so we said our goodbyes and he went on his way as we went into dinner.

We had dinner at the small AMC cafe at Pinkham Notch.  It is very similar to the dinners served at the AMC huts.  It’s a hearty meal for hungry hikers served family style at long picnic tables.  We had garden salad, a very good pineapple, mango, and peach cold soup, chicken cordon blue, green beans with pearl onions, baked potatoes, home baked bread, and spice cake.  No one left the table hungry.  The conversation mainly centered on the difficulty of the trail and the pros and cons of staying in the huts.

After collecting a few extra items from their spare gear bags which we are holding for them, we sent them off to bed.  They’ll need plenty of rest for the hard climb up Wildcat Mountain to Carter Notch today.

As for the other part of our day, we started out by walking around the campground. When we got to the office, the owner was out encouraging everyone to form a cheering squad for the Wildman Triathlon.  This is the 21st year for this annual event which raises funds for the local Senior Center.  The race started with a 10-mile run down North Road from Shelburne.  The participants then mounted their bicycles for the 15-mile ride to Wildcat Ski Resort.  This was the portion that passed right by our campground.  The owners lined up chairs at the edge of the drive and several of us campers watched and cheered as the racers passed by.  After they reached Wildcat Ski Resort, the participants then hiked up the mountain.  I hope they got to ride the gondola down.

After lunch, we headed over to Conway for a little shopping.  Conway is a real touristy town and it reminded us a lot of Gatlinburg, a gateway community to the Smokies.  A few miles away from the downtown area is an outlet mall.  A mile or so beyond that is an LL Bean Outlet store and an Eastern Mountain Sports retail store.  Next door to EMS was a Starbucks.  This was not a bad place to while away the afternoon.

Gene found the long-sleeved shirt he has been looking for at LL Bean.  It was marked down half price, plus he had two $10 coupons.  He got the shirt for five bucks.  Now, he’s a happy camper.  At the EMS store, I got him a Tilley hat for his upcoming birthday.  He’s wanted a Tilley for years.  It was marked down twenty percent, so I got a good deal.  (I should have offered to buy the shirt.)  Since it’s his birthday present, he’ll have to wait a couple weeks until it is officially his.  At the outlet mall we stopped in the Carter store and found an outfit for our granddaughter’s birthday.  On sale, of course, so another good deal.

Today, we have a couple things to do for Herb and Dwight to prepare for their next visit.  They’ll be on the trail for two days then come to the US 2 crossing on Tuesday.  Gene’s working on the iodine mess right now.  We also have a grocery run to do.  We want to try to work in a walk, as well.

So, I better get busy.

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