Day 152: Lonesome Lake

Day 152
Beaver Brook Shelter to Lonesome Lake Hut

Miles Hiked: 14.9

AT Milage: 1816.0

This morning I woke up around 7am and got on trail around 7:30. I haven’t been sleeping great again. It was a cold night in the 30s. The first hour of my day I spent doing a treacherous descent of Mount Moosilauke. It was extremely steep and made my knees ache. If it was raining I would definitely not attempt to climb down the mountain on the AT. One slip and I would be lucky to not be injured. I kept telling myself to remember to fall backwards on to my pack if I took a spill. The route went directly next to a waterfall which was very neat but also a little nerve wrecking. I was thankful when I made it to the bottom and crossed the road to begin climbing up Mount Wolf.Mount Wolf was a long steep climb with huge boulders I often had to pull myself up with my arms on. I felt strong on the climb up, and looking forward to eating my food on the summit. From the peak I got a glimpse of fraconia ridge and realized what an absolutely beautiful day it was.I read comments on the guide about how the descent from Mount Wolf was treacherous with mud that was thigh deep. I thought people might be complaining more than necessary so I didn’t take them seriously, but I was wrong. The way down hurt my knees yet again. All I could think about was how much I must be tearing up my cartilage and how I wished my body would be as easy to fix as a car. If my knees were shock absorbers or brake pads, I could just replace them. Eventually I ran into the mud. At one point I stuck my trekking pole in a hole of mud so deep it sank in close to the handle. After that, I poked around the mud more with my trekking poles to find the hidden rocks that I could step on. Leave no trace practices advocate for walking straight through mud pits rather than skirting around them which destroys more wilderness by widening the trail. I do my best to walk through them but I also really hate getting my feet soaked if I can avoid it. Since I already got them super muddy and wet during the first mud pit crossing I just continued the trend and walked right through the rest. By the end of Mount Wolf I was pretty exhausted but I still had quite a few more miles to go before my camp spot. I wanted to make it to lonesome lake hut early enough to get a “work for stay” spot. After Mount Wolf I started to head up North Kinsman mountain. The first mile or so of the climb followed a a beautiful brook with lots of waterfalls. I thought I would take a dip if it wasn’t so cold outside. It’s been so cold out that I shiver every time I stop hiking. Eventually I came out to a clearing with a bog and a view of the mountain I was going to climb. When I saw it I gasped at how pretty it was. It felt like I was in a some secret valley from a fairy tale movie.From this point, the climb became extremely steep to the point I felt like the trail was more vertical than horizontal. I started climbing straight up huge boulder piles that were so high I couldn’t see the top. Every time I thought I was at the top of of one, I would turn the corner and the trail would go straight up AGAIN. By the end I was histerically laughing out loud and yelling at how ridiculous the trail was. I was having such a blast. I’ve never climbed a mountain like this. The whole time I was wondering how on earth someone would be able to climb down the mountain if it was raining! I would be terrified. I was thankful for the nice weather.At the top of North Kinsman peak I was amazed at the 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains. I could see fraconia ridge and mount Moosilauke. Next I hiked one mile to south kinsman peak and it felt like I flew to it. I realized it was because it was the first time all day I wasn’t going straight up or straight down.After the Kinsmans I started the descent to Lonesome lake shelter. The Appalachian Mountain Club operates a series of huts in the white Mountains that you can rent a spot in for a night. I think it costs about $100 and includes breakfast and dinner. I was expecting a super rustic cabin but when I got there I was amused to find it to be almost a full blown luxury cabin. At each of these huts thru hikers are allowed to do “work for stay” where you can do chores in exchange for sleeping on the dinning room floor. The AMC only allows 2 thru hikers to take this opportunity at each hut. When I got there both spots were taken but the “Croo” still offered me a spot.I had to wait until after dinner to do the chores so I sat around taking care of my feet, reading my book, talking to the other two thru hikers and trying to avoid talking to the people staying at the hut. This might sound rude, but after 1800 miles of getting asked the same ridiculous questions when I’m dead tired and trying to relax or get miles under my feet, I just want to avoid people if I can. It makes me laugh that spending this much time in the woods mostly alone really makes me not enjoy bigger crowds or attention as much. Most other hikers feel the same way. Sometimes it’s okay but most of the time we are not in the mood after a full day of hiking or being in solitude/ with other thru hikers for so long. After the guests ate dinner the thru hikers were allowed to eat the leftovers and start our chores. For about a hour and a half I washed dishes and scrubbed down a stove. Finally around 9:30 we were allowed to set up our stuff and go to bed. I was so stinking tired from my tough hike today and then staying alert for so long afterwards. I was glad for the food and a warm place to sleep but I’m not so sure I will visit the other huts. It’s a toss up of whether a spot will be available and honestly just exhausting trying to stay up that long at the end of the day. The Croo was super nice and I could tell they worked really hard to operate the huts. I’m not so sure I enjoy the idea of a full blown service operation in the middle of the mountains but to each their own. Often the AMC gets a bad reputation in the world of thru hikers for being a way to exploit the wilderness for the sake of making money. Yes they do work to protect it but there are some ethical questions at play. The world’s not perfect. The hikers will always make fun of the AMC calling it The Appalachian Money Club. I feel like I might complain or talk alot about ethical issues of hiking or wilderness, but I don’t know everything and I’m not perfect. If you are interested I would suggest reading a book about wilderness ethics (Waterman has a good one). I read a book on it before I hiked the trail and it changed the way I thought about a lot of things and interacted with the trail.

(Fast forward to a week later when I’m finally publishing this: My feelings for the huts and the AMC have changed. I grew thankful for the huts and the AMC after spending a week hiking through the whites and visiting them)

Happy Trails!

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