Coming into NH I experienced a density of trail magic heretofore unseen as of yet on trail. I was called off the roadwalk for a second breakfast, found coolers and snacks along the roadwalk into NH. This burst of trail magic culminated in a homestay that was far more luxurious than I had any right to expect. Hanover has a veritable army of trail angels operating, and many of the business in town have deals or freebies for hikers, easily making it one of the most comfortable points on the trail. Met Biscuit on my way out of Hanover, He’s a thru hiker and attending Dartmouth in the coming fall, (at time of publication he should’ve just finished his freshman year) he’d be one of a few leapfrogging cohorts I would keep till Katahdin.
Between Smarts Mountain and Mount Cube I found the first of the worst kind of “trail improvement,” bog boards floating atop muddy puddles. I’ll let that one sink in, bog boards, floating on water. One moment you’re on solid ground, trucking along at a fast clip the next you’ll be thigh deep in thin mud, with no idea where you went wrong and all trust in bog boards forever shattered. That night I met up with Ox, and quite a few others at the Hexacube Shelter, a hexagonal shelter on Mount Cube, (and also the home of the Pentaprivy) where we got word that Scott Jurek would pass us that night. Someone had gotten a text from a hiker staying on Smarts Mountain that he’d just passed. We guessed he’d be passing soon so a few of us headed out to the trail crossing to wait, (The shelter is up a spur trail a ways) and wait we did, about 3 or 4 (I think it was Biscuit, and Smasher.) of us out at the crossing for about 2 hours, he never made it though. My guess is he got thrown for a bit of a loop by those floating bog boards, later we got word that he didn’t make it to his sag wagon until 2am the following morning.
For those unaware, Scott Jurek is the current holder of the fastest known time on the Appalachian Trail, and was on his record making run at this point. (His time ended up being 46 days, 8 hours, 7 minutes, narrowly beating Jennifer Pharr Davis by about 3 hours) While I was disappointed that I didn’t get to meet him, I couldn’t feel too bad, at the next road crossing he’d left a big box full of cliff bar stuff as trail magic and I grabbed a fair amount of high value food.
A few miles past that box I made it to another ration, and the Hiker’s Welcome Hostel. I zero’d there a couple days, both waiting to spend the 4th of July there, doing logistics planning for the remaining AT rations and routing how I would get from Katahdin to Crown Point and the North Country Trail. It was a good respite before arguably the hardest section of the AT, met the Odie and Neema of Hiker Yearbook fame, swam, and watched a lot of movies. (Hiker’s Welcome has an extensive collection of dvds.)