I’m sitting in the Gentian Pond Shelter. It is raining. I have been here since before 4:00. It’s going to be a long night. There are three SOBO’s here: Prism, Foxy, and the Doctor. Prism had not heard of her namesake in The Importance of Being Earnest. She has much information to offer about Maine. Many of her descriptions are in the form of warnings. I keep telling her I am not interested. She keeps talking anyway. Northbounder Padawan, a high schooler from Florida, just walked up, drenched. The shelter sleeps 14, so there is plenty of room. Others may also arrive. It could get crowded. Time will tell.
With the Whites now history, I awoke in a much more relaxed frame of mind this morning. Pilgrim, Susquehanna Slim, and I rode with Molar Man and Sweet Tooth back to the trail at about 7:30. The first mile of today’s hike was on two roads. When we finally reached the woods, a 1700 ascent of Mt. Hayes greeted us. Most of the trail consisted of smaller rocks, dirt, roots, and mud. In other words, the AT of Vermont has returned. I did not complain. After the treacherous terrain in the Whites, I welcomed the mundane tree-lined trail of today.
When we reached the summit of Mt. Hayes we took a break. Slim wondered if the mountain was named for Rutherford B. Hayes. Perhaps since he missed the Presidentials, maybe he was assigned to a lesser mountain. We went on to suggest other prominent Hayes’. Helen Hayes, Isaac Hayes, Gabby Hayes, and “Bullet” Bob Hayes were also choices. We thru hikers continue to struggle for worthwhile conversation at times. So on we hiked toward Cascade Mountain.
The trail continued to be agreeable for the most part; however, some sections of rock slabs that required the use of hands still existed. Whether up or down, they took more time. Even though the trail for most of the day presented few difficulties, it still took us seven hours to hike the 11.8 miles. We did take several breaks. We also passed three beautiful ponds. Each made me think about my brother. They seemed so peaceful and isolated.
So now there are still three hours to good dark, and there’s really nothing to do. If I get in my sleeping bag now, I’ll fall asleep and wake up at ten or eleven. Then I’ll lie awake until past midnight. There is no good way to relax in a shelter. But I am dry and among interesting people. This is also my last night in New Hampshire. We are 4.7 miles from the Maine border. Even though the next few days will still be tough, at least I’ll be in the final state. About three more weeks on the Appalachian Trail.