After a rather mundane introduction to New Hampshire on yesterday’s hike, my buddies and I got the full welcome on Cube Mountain this afternoon. Finding ourselves close to tree-line, Banzai, Susquehanna Slim, Pilgrim and I realized that the Whites are just around the next corner, or should I say, just over the next ridge. With spectacular views from the south peak of Cube, we took our last lengthy break before tackling the 2000 foot descent over the final three miles. The less severe than we had anticipated terrain helped to alleviate some of the cumulative fatigue from a 16.0 mile, ten hour day. Still, when we arrived at NH 25A, we were all very tired.
Our day began at Dorchester Rd. near Lyme, NH. With light packs and cool weather (48 earlier this morning), we scooted up the first significant climb to Lambert’s Ridge in two hours. We were greeted with the first of several awesome views that we would experience throughout the day. Despite having to traverse several large rock slabs, the variation was nice. Large patches of squishy black mud detracted some; however, the somewhat challenging boulders didn’t pose any major difficulty. From the ridge we could see our next climb, Smarts Mountain and its fire tower in the distance.
The distance between the two locations was only two miles with about an 850 foot elevation gain. Surprisingly the climb didn’t prove to be very difficult. Arriving on Smarts Mountain just past noon, we took a break for lunch. Spoon had also stopped for a break. Slim climbed the tower to the enclosed top. I sat on a rock below and enjoyed a sandwich. At this point in the hike a jovial crowd we were. In fact, Banzai serenaded the rest of us with a chorus of Rawhide as we continued the walk. It appears that this may become our theme song. “Move ’em up, head ’em out, Rawhide.” So on we walked down to Jacobs Brook and then on toward the Eastman Ledges.
The ledges provided the four of us with some more difficult rock climbs, but the views were worth the effort. From the ledges we ascended to Mt. Cube where we took a final break on the south peak. Mike had hiked in to meet us and was waiting at the top with Banzai when Slim, Pilgrim, and I arrived. After hiking tentatively most of the day due to yesterday’s falls, I tried to resume my normal pace for the final three miles. Hiking behind the others, I still exhibited caution. When we all reached the road we drove in to Lincoln where we will set up a base camp of sorts for the first few days of the Whites. Then after a stop for pizza we headed to a motel, tired and dirty after another exhausting day on the Appalachian Trail.