Back at the Appalachian Trail – Day 7

Although the weather is supposed to clear today, clouds streamed past the shelter when I arose at 6 am. I started hiking down a rocky trail losing 1000 feet of elevation. In three miles, I came to the Galehead hut. I went inside for a drink and found leftover breakfast from AT hikers. Scrambled eggs, a pancake, and oatmeal. Wonderful! The photo shows a hiker loading up. Well fortified, I struggled up an extra-steep trail to South Peak. My reward was blue skies and a view. Back down for two miles to a wind-swept knoll with tundra. I lost 2000 feet of elevation descending to the Zeeland Falls hut, which is situated next to  creek that flowed over massive granite. Kids played in the shallow water. I went inside and found leftover breakfast and lunch - oatmeal and pasta. I helped myself. I had thought about staying here as a work-for-stay hiker but the day was still young. I shouldered my pack and walked five glorious miles on a nearly level trail with few rocks. What a treat! My destination was the Ethan Pond shelter. When I arrived, I found the shelter to be dark and uninviting. The caretaker told me that I could find stealth camping sites three miles farther at US Hwy 302. Hiking the extra distance today would increase my odds of staying at Lake of the Clouds hut near Mt Washington tomorrow - with 3.800 feet of elevation gain over 11 miles. I arrived at a parking area near the highway and got a ride for a quarter mile to the highway. I was tired. I walked across the highway and in 0.1 mile found a great campsite near the Sacco River. The good weather and few steep ups and downs helped me hike 17.5 miles today.

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