Been trying to winter hike earlier this year. Didn't make it. Scared like a new born chicken. Hopefully it would happen this winter. But, summer is here. Time to throw myself into the embracement of the White Mountains if she's willing to take me in.
Day 1. It rained pretty hard...after I started the hike at the foot of Mt. Washington. This was supposed to be an easy out and back route on AT from Pinkham Notch to Mt. Washington Auto Rd. The rain got heavier from drizzle to downpour. Well, too late to turn around. Let's practice on this short hike. Rain jacket on me, rain cover on the pack. Then what... There is a sign on the left - Raymond Path, 1.8 miles. The maps shows that this path leads a loop back to starting point. Plenty of daylight left. Let's try it. 2-mile became 6. There was no one around maybe because of the rain. So I started to talk to the birds and talk my ears off. It was a little scary, too. Every black colored item felt like a bear.
There are always surprises on unfamiliar trails. Raymond Path ends at Huntington Ravine Trail, then connect to Tuckerman Ravine Trail, then back to Pinkham Notch. It was that short part of Huntington that really showed the force of mother earth. The current in streams were very strong due to the rain, and there were several streams to cross to get to the other side of trail. So I pulled the pants up, stayed low, held on to the rocks, and stepped into the water. It was knee high and really cold. My feet became num for a while. "practice makes perfect," as Steve, the Mountain Wonderer bookstore owner, said after hearing this little adventure. The stream crossing made falling into a hole between roots not a big deal. One big mistake was assuming that the map was waterproof. It tore itself apart in the rain. Now we know...
As usual, the night was spent at the Notch Hostel. "...owner Serena Ryan co-founded the hostel in 2015". Here you'll meet so many outdoors people and Appalachian Trail hikers. Everyone has his/her own stories to tell. Guests hangout in the kitchen, in the living room, out on the porch, around campfire, sharing the mountains with each other. Maybe you'll meet life long friends here, too. During AT hiker season, talking to the hikers full fills the entire day. So much to learn from everyone.
The next morning, sun decided to shine through the clouds. Grandpa toad got out to get some Vitamin D. The water drops made themselves visible in thin fogs and they dance in light beams. Hello sun, long time no see!
As the elevation gets higher, trees grow shorter. Gradually the clouds are down there. Oh here's Greenleaf Hut! You can stay here for the night, enjoy the hospitality, the nutritious food, and of course the sunset, painting the colors in the sky and in the hearts.
On top of Mt. Lafayette, I forgot how to speak both in Chinese and English. Is it real? Is it a dream? How did I get here? What are those cotton candies above, around, and below? Thank you White Mountains! Thank you for taking me in, for taking everyone no matter who we are, no matter how we human think of each other.
Diapensia, alpine flowers above treeline. They are so little yet so strong, live through the snow, the storms, gust of the wind... wish I could be like you, little one. And also jealous that you are so close to the cotton candies every day. Well, thank you for your encouragement. See you again soon!
Weekend passed by so fast. Bye White Mountains, bye mushrooms, bye beloved Notch Hostel. Every one working here is like the alpine diapensia, beautiful and resilient, Serena, Kelly, Tricia, and Molly. Cheers to you all, take care, and see you soon!