Home » 2009 White Mountains Backpacking Trip

Nauman Tent Site, NH

Friday, June 5, 2009 - 11:45am by Andrew
8 miles and 8 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


Ethan Pond ShelterEthan Pond ShelterAfter waking up we were able to get on the trail a bit quicker than the absurd 2 hours it took us the previous days, because we had no tent or bear-bag to deal with. We fueled up with our standard breakfast and hit the trail. On the way out, Nik found a little treasure that he decided to pack out as a good luck charm that remained with us for the rest of the trip – an old beat-up license plate that read “Toyota/Volvo of Keene” that was soon strapped to the outside of his pack. I’m not exactly sure why he felt the need to bring this with him, and I have a feeling he wasn’t sure either. He got quite a few questions from other hikers asking about it, to which he responded, “It’s a good luck charm”.

Nik's PackNik's PackAnyway, the easy hiking that took place the previous night continued for a while, but was certainly no indication of what we had coming for us later in the day. After about 3 1/2 miles, we reached Crawford Notch, where we expected to find some sort of civilization – like bathrooms, or a store, or a visitor’s center or something. Instead we found a parking lot and a trail sign-in-sheet, which we spontaneously filled out with our newly decided trail names, “Old Greg & Lt. Dan”. We crossed Route 302 and sat along the side of the road for a little while before getting ready for the march up Mt. Webster. From looking at the map we had a feeling that this was possibly the steepest climb we had all trip.

Climbing up Mt. WebsterClimbing up Mt. Webster The contour lines were so close they were barely distinguishable and appeared more like one very thick line. The elevation told us that we would be climbing 2800 feet in 2.8 miles. Great! After Webster it looked like the hike was relatively easy going over Jackson before descending down to Mizpah Springs. Climbing Mt. Webster was probably the hardest section of trail we had during our trip. Most of the way up Webster was made of stretches that involved scrambling and climbing at snail’s pace. Eventually we made our way to a clearing just shy of the summit that we decided would be good enough for our lunch break. The view was nice and looked over Mt. Willy on the other side of the notch, but was not as spectacular as we were hoping for, given the strenuous 3-hour climb we had just completed. This was probably my most exhausted point of the trip. I felt like I had just completed a race running all-out, and ate lunch lying down while periodically dozing off.

As we ate our PB&J, Nutella, and cheese we met probably the most absurd person of the entire trip. It was a 30 or so year old guy who was day-hiking from the Crawford Notch and was planning on going up to Jackson and back. He was a little bit on the heavier side, yet still felt comfortable wearing nothing but running shorts that rivaled Nik’s Sugoys in terms of what they revealed.

Lookout on Mt. WebsterLookout on Mt. WebsterHe was very friendly and cheerful and had some pretty ridiculous gear including a daypack that had a streamline hard plastic outside, making it appear like some sort of sled or jetpack. Our conversation started off normally as he enthusiastically asked questions about our trip, to which he seemed to be pretty impressed with. He then looked over Mt. Willy across the way, and casually asked us, “Oh! Is that Tuckerman’s?” We were a bit taken aback by this question as he had previously seemed pretty knowledgeable and it was quite obvious that he was not looking at Tuckerman’s Ravine, which is the famous North slope of Mt. Washington that is still covered with snow in June. We informed him that he was actually looking at Mt. Willy, to which he surprisingly got even more excited to hear. “Oh, Mt. Willy! That’s named after my grandfather Willy! I’m named after that mountain! My middle name’s Willy!” Not sure how to respond to this, Nik and I gave him a casual “Oh, really. That’s pretty cool.” We proceeded to refer to our new friend as “Big Willy” for the rest of the trip, and found ourselves quoting and doing voice impressions of him on long hiking days.

Between Mt. Jackson and Mizpah SpringsBetween Mt. Jackson and Mizpah SpringsBig Willy continued on his hike as we continued to lounge around on the rock for a while. Eventually we were able to convince ourselves to push onward and continued up and over Jackson, which also turned out to be more difficult that we had expected. We did pass through a pretty cool marshy section between Jackson and Mizpah Springs that was nice not only because of a change in scenery but also because it was flat and easy hiking.

Nauman Tentsite at Mizpah SpringsNauman Tentsite at Mizpah SpringsFinally, we made it to Mizpah Springs Hut. Before even going into the shelter to get water, we headed over to the tent sites to claim a platform and to unload our packs. There were probably 6 or so tent platforms here, and by the end of the night nearly all of them were full. We headed into the hut to talk to the caretakers for a bit and get water. This shelter was also quite busy with many guests. We discussed our route for tomorrow with the caretakers who informed us that our planned camp site for the following day at Madison Hut unfortunately did not have a section for backpackers to stay. Even worse, there didn’t appear to be anywhere that wasn’t a good deal farther or off of our route that we could stay at.

Dinner setup at Mizpah Springs HutDinner setup at Mizpah Springs HutTomorrow was planned to be a pretty tough day as we were going over Mt. Washington, and we had a feeling that we weren’t going to be in the mood to hunt around for a decent backcountry site afterward. The caretakers did, however, give us some very valuable information when they asked us if we were familiar with the “Work for Stay” program at the huts. Neither of us were, but soon learned that the AMC Huts in the White Mountains are allowed to take in two thru-hikers per night, who will be provided with a meal and a place to sleep in return for working and doing chores. Although we weren’t thru-hiking, they said that we’d still have a shot at being able to work for stay at Madison Hut tomorrow as section-hikers, since not many thru-hikers pass through this early in the season. Also, they assured us that the head caretaker at Madison, Hillary, “the short girl” was “really cool”. We made sure to remember this information for tomorrow.

Nutella DesertNutella DesertAnyway, we headed back to our tent platform and began to set up camp. We decided that we really needed to get an early start tomorrow since it was going to be a pretty big day. We still had 6 miles tomorrow before we reached the summit of Washington and then another 5.7 miles before Madison Hut. Since the weather is so unpredictable at Mt. Washington, we wanted to get up there as soon as possible in the morning. More importantly. we wanted to make sure that we had ample time to relax a bit and enjoy the cafeteria food at the summit for lunch. The weather looked good for tonight, so we decided that we were going to go tent-less and sleep in the open in effort to speed up the process tomorrow morning. We went for the Knorr’s rice again tonight, which was better than ever, and then washed it down with a few spoonfuls of Nutella for desert. We set the alarm for 5:30 AM, relaxed for a little, and then crawled in our sleeping bags just as it was getting dark. It was really nice lying out and sleeping under the stars, although the peacefulness and tranquility was periodically broken up throughout the night by my nose-blowing and loogie-spitting that was unfortunately still necessary because of my allergies.

Nauman Tent Site location map

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