State: New Hampshire
I woke up early, but didn’t get out of my hammock. I was pretty tired from hiking Mount Bond yesterday and staying up playing D&D with my new friends Danny and John. We met the other day at the top of Mount Bond and ended up sharing a campsite. Danny and John are both volunteer firefighters and this was their first big hike.
I remember seeing their packs and realizing that this was definitely the case because I had made the same mistake over packing at the beginning of my trip.
That night after pausing our game till the morning, I finished reading Diggstown by Leonard Wise. It was great!
While we were waiting for Danny to get up, I took to grabbing some of the nuts from my pack and trying to lure some of the birds to eat out of my hand. John actually got video of a Gray Jay landing in my hand and eating out of it. We named the bird Jimmy when he did this multiple times.
We then finished our game of D&D in which my character was named the Mansquatch. Half man, half Sasquatch!
We said our goodbyes and headed in opposite directions. They were headed out the way we came, down the Bonds Cliffside Trail, and I was headed out towards the Zealand Cliffside trail.
As I walked the soreness from the previous day began to seep in. Carrying a 60lb pack up mountains tends to make you a little achy.
Anyways, I continued on and got to the top of Mount Guyote and then Mount Zealand, but the view was obscured due to the overcast sky. I literally had my head in the clouds.
When I arrived at the Zealand Cliffside trail, a curse escaped my lips, because although it was down hill…it was nearly straight down. The only reason I can think of as to why you would want to climb it is if you wanted to punish yourself for something terrible you did and then only if you hate your legs.
Going down it and that was an event all to itself. Slippery rocks and roots with an incline that said “One trip and you’re done.”
When I finally made it to the bottom, I really considered camping by the river, however, despite my exhaustion it was still early in the day and I didn’t want to be by the river when it was going to rain all night.
I crossed the river and looked up at the trail. Another curse escaped my lips when I saw another steep rocky incline.
I said to myself “Ok. I’ll do this, but sometime soon…pizza!”
As I climbed I heard two hikers behind me at the bottom of the trail, muttering curses themselves as they had just done the Zealand Cliffside Trail and now saw the steep incline ahead of them. I laughed. When I reached the top of the trail, I took a break and surveyed my surroundings. The mountains still towered over me and I truly hoped that I didn’t have to climb over another one.
“Lord, please help the next place I find have pizza,” I prayed trying to motivate myself to keep moving because the approaching dark clouds did not look friendly.
The two hikers behind me arrived a few minutes later while I was still taking my break.
“That one kind of sucked huh?” I said.
“Man, you ain’t kidding! Did you just come down the Zealand Cliffside trail?”
“Yup,” I laughed and so did they.
I introduced myself and I found out their names were Dennis and Reggie. They were brothers. Reggie also had his dog Dylan with him. Little guy, not sure the breed. Reggie carried him a lot of the time because he was worn out.
We talked for a bit while taking a break. I told them about my trip and then we started hiking again. We came to a sign that said 1.5 miles to the Zealand hut and 3.4 to the Ethan Pond Hut. Originally, I was going to go to the Ethan Pond Hut and work my way over to Arethusa falls (the largest waterfall in New Hampshire). However, I didn’t have 3.4 miles left in my tank. So I hiked with Reggie and Danny who said they were hiking out and going to get a cold beer with their name on it. I told them within the next few days, I had a pizza with my name on it and we all laughed.
I learned that Dennis was in the Marines when he was younger and had been all over, Japan, Europe, and a lot of islands. Before he retired he worked in the postal service.
Reggie works for a software company and says he basically does “Corporate Marriage Counseling.”
As we walked and got to know each other, Reggie offered me a ride to my next stop, Arethusa Falls.
And after getting turned around and flat-out lost a few times, we made it to the car right as the monsoon hit. It was like someone was pouring buckets of water out up there.
Reggie asked if I wanted to stop for a drink and a bite to eat.
“Definitely,” I said because after days of road food, it’s nice to have some warm food.
We stopped at this place and Dennis told me that the bill was on them. They then proceeded to order me two kids pizzas (one for there, and one for the road), a bowl of chili, and two Angry Orchards (my favorite drink).
After scarfing my food, we headed out. Reggie needed to get back to his girlfriend because he had originally told her they would be done hiking around 3:30. It wasn’t until around 5:30 that we got out of the woods and there’s no service in the White Mountains.
At the Arethusa falls trail head, Reggie and Dennis dropped me off, but not before saying “Seth, it was wonderful meeting you. We can tell that you’re a great guy. God bless you and keep you safe on your journey.”
I set up camp glad it was only sprinkling and not monsooning like it was earlier. As I lay down, exhausted, but truly happy, I thought about all the good people I’ve met along the way. I prayed for God to bless everyone that’s helped me on my journey so far and added Dennis and Reggie to that list.
Happiness is a cold beer and a pizza with your name on it!
Forever your friend,