Getting our gear together we piled into Miss Janet’s Van. We had a mountain to crush and all of us were excited to start The Whites. Getting dropped off I dawned my skirt and with all hiker traditions embraced the oddity. You see the guys hiked this one in dresses, I couldn’t tell you why but I knew they did. Heading up on our sheer climb up the waterfall we found ourselves surrounded by day hikers as we climbed fast. Stopping at a pristine spot we were asked by a couple if we could see a lost cell phone.
Looking around we saw nothing and with a touch of magic and luck I saw the phone, deep in a puddle of whirling water, nearly invisible. Telling them where it was, we fished it out and gave it a quick cleaning. Hopefully it would work once it was powered back on. We said our goodbye and headed up the cliffs, the sheer wet rocks had boards and re-bar sunk into them for footing. Happy to be going the direction we were going I thought of what it would be like with a full pack and coming down it.
With no packs the two of them were lighter than air as they disappeared from view. No matter I was still feeling great as I climbed alone. Happy in my own world I got into a rhythm as I climbed hand over hand up the rock faces and rooted wet stones. Passing the day hikers I felt alive, all the way to the first false summit. Here I hit my thru hiking stride and was literally running down the smoother trail passing more day hikers left and right. Not having a pack was great and it had been such a long time since I slack packed a section.
Pushing through the furs and splendid terrain I wound up above tree line. With just a few hundred yards between me and the summit I broke into a sprint as I crossed the alpine terrain. Reaching the summit, Thor and I noticed we were the only two there. All the other hikers must have stopped somewhere as we looked around, in our dresses mind you. Sure enough here they came, you could see them in the distance, shirtless in dresses bounding over the rocks as they came closer. Snapping pictures I caught a few shots of them as they strode up. Sitting and celebrating, we ate lunch and headed out one by one.
Making my way down the mountain, I walked alone. As the miles add up I find myself doing this more and more, taking my time solo in the woods. Free to explore my thoughts and the surrounding woods. Its not that I can’t do that when Earthling and Flailing are around its the exact opposite. That is what makes them the best hiking partners, I am never pressed to talk or engage in conversation. It seems that the three of us have just synced up so perfectly that when they need space and I need space it occurs at the same time. I had all the space in the world as i climbed down the huge mountain.
I was battling my nemesis as I climbed down, the rocky descent, with the ever impending fear of slipping and breaking a leg or ankle. The steep steps of unsettled rocks moved under my feet as i climbed down. If I rolled my ankle once i rolled it a dozen times, after the first time it was so weak it just flopped over a the slightest instance. Limping down the rest of the mountain I finally had a reprieve when the terrain became flatter and more gradual. the damage had already been done, I was going to be sore for a few days. No one in sight I pressed on at a leisurely pace past the shelter.
Then out of the blue I heard the unmistakeable sound I had heard back in Virginia with Warren Doyle. The distant sound of falling water, dropping a few feet into a pool. A waterfall must be just off the trail I thought. Taking the first left i could find, i wound up on an old trail that led exactly to where the sound was coming from. Tucked behind a few rather huge boulders was a deep pool that the waterfall was flowing into. My own private swimming hole, just for me. Stripping down to nothing I hung out my wet clothes and dove in. The frigid water took my breath away in an instant. The freezing water came straight from the mountain and felt so refreshing against my aching joints. There would be no need to ice them now as they numbed up inside the chest deep water.
Climbing out cold and refreshed I dressed and hit the trail again, only getting a few hundred yards before Flailing caught me. The two of us shared our afternoons with each other and you couldn’t help see how excited he was. his smile beaming from ear to ear, his laugh and excited tones as he talked quickly about his day. He was living the dream and nothing was going to bring him down that day. We joked about pretending to fight when Earthling arrived but neither one of could keep a straight face in discussing it. Just like that we found ourselves at the last remaining stream for the day.
Crossing the road we were soon greeted by a father and daughter, getting ready to hike out for the weekend. They offered us a beer and cider donuts as we talked with them about life on the trail. They shared with us their journey and story and we drank more as we waited for cars to pass. Saying goodby we decided to walk back to the hostel instead of hitching. Within minutes we were there, we had just enough donuts to eat to get to the hostel. tossing the last one our mouths we crossed the road and came inside for the evening. Throwing our clothes in the laundry we waited for our friends to return. Somehow the old man again had gotten in front of the others. If this keeps up ill have to stop joking that I’m an old tired man.