Nimblewill Nomad: IAT Thru-Hiker

Crawford Notch, New Hampshire

Week 10/4

Tuesday, August 8, 2000
Trail day: 77/28
Trail mile: 1049/345
Location: Crawford Notch, US302, thence to Twin Mountain, NH, Johnson's Motel, Mike Brady, proprietor

The cook starts rattling around a little before six. I'm already awake but I roll over for a few more winks . . . awaiting that drifting aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

I finally manage to get off the dining room table, get my pack organized and have another cup of coffee. My morning duty done, I'm out to be greeted by a chilly grey-ghost morning. Perhaps for us thru-hikers the Whites might be better known as the Greys, for we haven't the luxury of watching the weather from our penthouse apartments in Boston or Hartford, waiting for that perfect weekend weather-wise to go romping and climbing around the presidents.

The hike today is a steady, and at times, a precipitous bail-off to the Saco river. The wind along the ridge by Mt. Franklin, Mt. Eisenhower, and Mt. Pierce is in a rage, driving the moisture-laden clouds straight across, forcing me to lean and brace against it. I am relieved to get down to the comfort and shelter of Mizpah Spring Hut. Here in the library I find another copy of the great book, Joe Dodge and I settle in with a cup of coffee as I await Spider's arrival. Joe Dodge apparently had a great deal of fun in life . . . and a great deal of fun with people. One hilarious story relates how he had dreamed up these imaginary mountain-goat-like creatures that supposedly inhabited the rocky areas of the Whites. "They're all over the place up here, but they look just like the jeezly rocks, protective coloring, you know, so you don't see 'em much. They're of two distinct varieties, but you can't tell 'em apart by their color, and their hoof marks are identical, so you can only do it when you actually see one of 'em as they move around the mountain. There's the gauchers and the droiters, and they belong to the same species even though they can't breed. I've seen dozens, but mostly they've been the gauchers, the ones that go [around the mountain] to the left. The last few years, though, no one has seen many droiter [the ones that go around the mountain to the right]; they may have gone extinct. You see, because of the legs (gauchers - short right legs, droiters - short left legs), the gauchers can't breed with the droiters, and with the northwest wind so strong in these mountains, lately, the droiters have had a hard time getting around the hillsides."

The day has made an effort to clear, but Mt. Jackson and Mt. Webster are totally socked in by the cold-wind-driven mist. Coming off Mt. Webster I'm pretty sure I saw a gaucher! He was crouched, aimed clockwise, looking like a rock, just like Joe Dodge said . . . but I could see his eyes as he blinked at me. At Webster Cliffs, overlooking the Saco River and Crawford Notch, the day finally brightens as the clouds lift.

At US302, Spider and I hitch a ride into Twin Mountain. After a pizza and a few cold frosties we settle in for an enjoyable evening at Johnson's Motel.

What is he carrying? Check Nimblewill's gear list.


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »