Easy cruising on a half day down to a lodge to dry out.
Despite setting the alarm for a lackadaisical 7am we were both awake at the normal 6am. We only had 7 miles to make to get to a road crossing where we were hoping to hitch 4 miles to an AMC lodge we had booked. I even nipped back the 0.25 miles to Zealand Falls hut to use their bathroom. I had noticeably stiff knees this morning after the treacherous rocky terrain lately.
The trail from camp to the road was supposedly some of the easiest miles in all the Whites which we would gratefully find to be true. Actual flat gravel path in many places, such an inexplicable aberration that we debated what had caused presumably the AMC to do that. Easy access to the Zealand Falls hut for guests perhaps? The other huts certainly don’t have easy access.
The last few days of rain have really improved the water flow everywhere around here, often along the trail itself.
The trail was as easy as promised so we reached the road without feeling any more beat up around 12:15pm. We tried hitching, Carina taking the lead at first but she took all the implied rejection personally and left it to me to face rejection for the next half hour. As it happens this was an AMC shuttle stop and one was due at 1.05pm. After 45 minutes of failed hitching, no phone signal and sporadic rain we grudgingly ponied up an outrageous $38 for a 4 mile to the AMC Highland Centre.
At the lodge we had a private room with a communal shower and bathroom. With no laundry facilities we took all our muddy clothes into the shower and washed them by hand (by foot also, stomping out the mud) and then hung them up in the room and pointed the supplied portable fan at them. It was very successful. We had a sandwich for a late lunch and ate outside having put up the tents to dry. This created various conversation opportunities with fellow guests who are not attempting quite such strenuous trips.
While planning the next section I discovered that the hut nearest the summit of Mount Washington had just had some cancellations due to the bad weather so we decided to splash the cash and make the crossing of the most dangerous mountain in the East much more safe – a bigger day tomorrow than planned as we will do a lot of the climbing tomorrow but leaving us just 1.5 miles from the summit so we can get over quickly and get back down below treeline and find a campsite without needing to do a 14-15 mile day. With lightning storms in each of the last 3 days it isn’t the safest of places to be.
After a busy afternoon of laundry and general organisation we enjoyed their BBQ buffet and a sleep in a warm dry bed.