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 24 Hour... 4 Hour Huts Traverse 
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 24 Hour... 4 Hour Huts Traverse
Cath and I met at GH Pizza in Lincoln. She walked into the pizza joint and picked up the pizza she had ordered all of 15 minutes prior. This was to be our food for once we made it to Rte. 302. Half Veggie, half cheese… I knew what half was mine. We went outside and to my car where we unloaded her gear from her car and loaded it into mine. We both took quick glances at each other and its all we needed to determine that we were both pretty tired from a long days work and a few long weeks.

Our work schedules have been thrown off slightly due to days of showery periods mixed into the early autumn sun. Its tough on you as a landscaper. Not only do you lose money and get into a funk of NOT having to work… but when you do work you work harder and don’t make anymore than you would have otherwise.

After some regular fooling around, we hoped into our cars and headed for Lafayette Place where we would dump her vehicle off so she could have it when we were done this ridiculous task at hand. The wind in Franconia Notch was HOWLING through the gap of the hills at a chilling rate. Things in my mind were not looking up. We both got in my car and headed off to Rte 16.. Our starting point. We talked on our way over but conversation was lighter than normal. 93 North to Rte 3. 115 to Rte. 2.. We all know the route. And as we passed by the area’s where one could finally see the presi’s, we smashed our heads against the windows attempting to see if the clouds had finally left the higher summits. And to our eyes at that point… they had.

When we got to 16, Cath prepared her lighter pack for the short trek to and from Carter Notch Hut. It was rather mild in Pinkham Notch… 52 Degrees when we passed through Gorham. MUCH warmer than what it had been in Franconia.

9:30PM: We assembled our packs, slung them on.. And headed slowly up the trail. We were not to break a sweat.. Just walk leisurely to the Hut where we would rest if time permitted. On the way up there was short mention of the little things by each of us. Cath hadn’t put in the miles she should have over the summer to do this type of event. She was also feeling rather tired. Myself… I was OVER tired all ready having missed the opportunity to nap tonight and sleeping like crap the night before. I had also felt sick a few times over the last few days heading into the adventure. One afternoon breaking into a hot sweat, feeling nauseas and for a majority of the week.. I had had a migraine. Though there we were in the lonely dark woods.. My car and ONE other at the Trail head.. We muddled up the 19-mile Brook trail headed for the Start of our 24-Hour Huts Traverse.

About 300 feet elevation BELOW the level of the hut.. The wind made its presence known. A strong westerly wind had assembled on the higher location… freezing what little sweat had poured from our bodies against us. I was certain it was now a balmy 30 some degrees at this level and the powerful wind made it colder and the sound of the wind making it colder than that. I was all ready sleep walking. The scanning process of my eyes was shot and my eyes growing heavier by the footstep. I was getting dizzy and irritable.. Though I never once eluded to Cath what was going on with me. I was in pretty rough shape all ready.

At the hut all of the lights were out, no one was to be found. No kidding… seeing as we had arrived at 11:30PM. We entered the hut and claimed our spots on the tables inside. I could have sworn upon waling in that the place was haunted. Later.. Cath would tell me that it is indeed believed to be Haunted after all. The wind BLASTED the hut and made it shake. The groaning sound and whirring of the wind through the firs sounded like something out of a Steven King Movie. Wind never was something that got under my skin much. But for some reason tonight.. I was fully spooked and not feeling good about it at all. I took a soft shell out of my pack to act as a pillow, put it under my neck.. Laid down and closed my eyes. Cath.. Had done the same.

11:56 PM: We both got up off the bench. What we had planned to be a half hour nap was nothing more than a half hour of our eyes being closed listening to the wind and getting a free massage from the vibrating of the hut. We packed it all up again, slung our packs back on and a quick glance at the watch showed Midnight. I quickly signed the Huts log.. And we walked out the door.

The once cold air we traveled through to get to the hut was now EVEN COLDER. The wind blowing at our faces we made our way slowly passed the Carter Lakes. We could hear the water’s waves crashing against the rocks on the far side of the lake. The moon had risen from the east and made Wildcat A glow mysteriously in the night sky. A quick glance was all I had energy for as we continued on to the first descent of our great journey.

As soon as the wind died down below a couple hundred feet, we stopped for my pee break and a delayering. It wasn’t as cold and the further we descended into the Notch the warmer it got once again. As we walked down the trail, Cath supplied me with some great stories. She tells some WONDERFUL stories and always tries to incorporate a lifes lesson into them for me. I really appreciate this kind of friendship she affords me. She really is like a big sister.

But the further down the trail we go.. The sleepier I got. Cath’s stories were now starting to be just echo’s and white noise in my head. I was hearing voices in the woods, my vision was turning into a dark tunnel vision and I was beginning to stumble about. Cath stopped us for a pee break of her own.. Though I think more or less she sensed by downward spiral and stopped to allow me to gather myself. We take care of each other like that.

After the quick break I had gathered myself enough to begin the decision making process. I thought of what lied ahead of us. Not what lied ahead long term.. Such as… what’s on the other side of Washington or 302.. But I was simply thinking about… Making it to Madison Hut. I was replaying things we nonchalantly said to each other during the night that acted as small glimmers of doubt and as Cath told me more stories…. It quickly got quiet.

We marched on further and Cath broke the silence with a…
(The conversation… for the most part)
“so your thinking about this aren’t you?” Yeah… yeah I am.. Aren’t you? “Yes.” Well I’m playing 20 questions with myself, and have been for a while. I think we need to seriously ask each other some things and answer honestly. “Ok.. Go for it.” Well… How tired ARE you? “Pretty tired.. How bout you? “I’m exhausted Cath.. And sleep walking all ready. “ok… so what do you want to do?” Well.. Question 2 is.. Are you thrilled about and prepared for hiking in winter TODAY? “NO” ok… are you thrilled about it? “No” and prepared “no way, I mean I have some gear with me but not all that I would need for THAT.” Well I don’t think my body can handle the shock tonight. “Well you’ve been working in some much higher temps than I have been the last two weeks, I’m kind of used to the colder mornings.. Your not.” Your right.. So given the answers here Cath… I think the SAFEST thing for us to do is call this thing off. We are WAY overtired and walking across the Northern Presi’s in a daze with freezing temps and a howling wind is not something I think we should be doing. Besides.. The huts and or these mountains are NOT going anywhere.

My pride was in my throat and I was on the verge of tears. GOD I HATE QUITTING! We hardly even got started, and though I COULD say that we walked all night for nothing… it was not all for not. I spent some more GREAT time with my hiking partner… someone I love as a friend and we learned just how much we could trust each other during tough decision time. We learned a lot in 4 hours that’s for sure. I swallowed that lump in my throat and Cath and I carried on joking with one another. At 1:34 AM we reached the car.. Looked up at a mysterious cloud bank over Madison and threw our gear in the car. It was over…

We hopped in and drove down to the auto road for a glance up. You could make out the mountain shadows but could not make out what was going on weather wise. We did notice the cloud bank over the cats just SCREAMING through the night sky. The winds had never died down. We went to AMC Pinkham and the doors were locked so we headed back to Franconia to get her car. I was nodding off at the wheel and had to switch off even Cath. Funny.. Usually after seeing a moose off of the side of the road at night.. I am wide awake from nerves… I got sleepier. We finally made it to her car.. She took her gear, I got back behind the wheel and drove to Lincoln.. Where at 3AM.. I finally went to sleep and sleep is what I did.

Thoughts: Though disappointed that we had to end our trek before it ever really got started, I was pleased with the outcome. As we drove down Rte 2 to 115 we could see the moon shining off of the wind and cold created fog on the higher summits. After looking at the Mount Washington Hourly reports Saturday AM.. We noticed that over night the winds had picked back up into the 50’s with the temps in the 20’s. The wind-chill was a balmy 21 below according to the Wind-Chill Index. And the clouds created by those cold temps and wind? FREEZING FOG. I am MORE than confident the two of us could have pounded out the 51 Miles.. But with the both of us being previously exhausted and the conditions being as they were.. I am proud of our decision to bail.

I am also most proud of the level of respect we showed for one another during the decision making process. I am very much within my comfort zone with Cath as I know she is dedicated to looking out for me as I am her. We make one hell of a team, day or night, hot or cold. I cried on the way home thinking of how lucky I am to have had this woman walk into my life.. She’s like that knight on a white horse cliché. We’ll hack at this thing again… next year.. When it is MUCH warmer!

Saturday I woke up and did the Hancocks for my list of 2005: 48 x 3 and Sunday we are planning a Presi-Traverse. I hope you’ll log in and see how things went. I really appreciate those of you who take the time to read my reports as I truly enjoy typing them and sharing these stories.. Good or bad.. With you. There are many lessons to be learned through the experiences of others. I especially thank the admin for providing this forum.. And lastly… I appreciate Life, and those I hold dear in it.

Until Next time…

Happy Trails.

SJ :?

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Sat Sep 24, 2005 10:10 pm
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Great report John, and THANK YOU for making the tough decision to bail. It says a lot about your intelligence and your character.

Oh yeah, and no problem proving the forum for you to post. I enjoy every one of them. I'd keep this thing going even if I was the only one who ever visited the site!

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Sun Sep 25, 2005 8:08 pm
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