We got a late start because Little Bear wasn’t feeling well but we were soon going up the long, rocky climb of Mount Moosilauke, our first 4,000 footer in the White Mountains. The heat wave made it up here today so it was the sweatiest climb I’ve had in a while. We made it to the summit above treeline for a late lunch and enjoyed the views, hazy though they were.
On the way down we stopped at the Beaver Brook Shelter to get water and take a breather before beginning a 1.3 mile, 1,900′ rocky descent that we’d heard was slick and difficult. It ran next to a waterfall for most of the way and looked almost vertical on my elevation profile. It wasn’t too bad at first but we soon ran into sections of wooden steps and rebar that had been attached to the rocks to help out on steeper parts. I did a lot of sitting down and scooting over some big steps. We made Little Bear go first with Riner so the dog wouldn’t be running us down from behind. He did pretty well actually.
We were moving at less than a mile an hour and weren’t sure how close we were to the bottom when we started hearing thunder. It wasn’t possible to speed up but we just kept going and hoped for the best. It started raining and got suddenly very dark so Stretch and I stopped to get out rain jackets and headlamps. Just as we started hiking again, it started lightning and hailing. Pea-sized hail quickly changed to marble-sized hail, with some even bigger than that hitting us. We crouched at the side of the trail, taking partial cover under our packs and near the trees.
The hail lasted less than five minutes but it seemed to take much longer. The storm changed back to just rain but the trail was now covered in marbles and very difficult to walk on. Whereas before I’d been trying to avoid stepping on the slick rocks whenever possible, now they had the better traction. Little Bear came back up the trail to check on us in just his underwear. Taking off pants in a storm seemed like a genius idea to me since my pants were now soaked and cold, but it gave us a good laugh too. We continued down the trail and made it to Beaver Brook within twenty minutes, the beginning of level ground.
The rain stopped but we saw on the radar more storms were coming so we set up camp at a stealth site mentioned in a “Stealthing the Whites” document a southbounder had given us a while back. We only hiked 9.3 miles today and we are just before Kinsman Notch. Once I was setup and in my tent, it started storming again, more hail and thunder and lightning. It looks like lighter storms the rest of the night. If it’s still storming tomorrow, we’ll have to take a break because we can’t be above treeline in this. Welcome to the Whites: low mileage, difficult terrain, and weather ruling the day.
My hospital shoe had fallen apart this morning so I was back to hiking in my regular shoe. I was worried about it initially but it turned out to not be too bad. I taped my big toe to the toe next to it, and since the hospital shoe trained me to walk without rocking forward for the last two and a half weeks, I just kept walking that way. I stubbed my toe and squished my foot in rocks a couple of times but it hurt barely more than a non-broken toe would have hurt.