AT - Day 21

Wolly Hood offered to clear the tables for me, so I departed without breakfast. Mooseleg had slept on a ledge at the falls, and we headed out simultaneously. We hiked over Zeacliff, Mount Guyot, and South Twin to the new Galehead Hut, where Mole had already arrived. On the “rollercoaster” path near Gale River Trail, a young woman carried a heavy load to a trail crew campsite. At the Garfield Ridge Campsite entrance, Wanchor lounged on a bed of rocks and ferns, while bantering nobos lined up for spring water spilling out of a trough. After a visit with a ranger on Mount Garfield and a Scout group looking for water near Garfield Pond, I climbed Mount Lafayette. The cell phone frustrated me again. I dragged myself along Franconia Ridge, down the boulder-strewn Liberty Springs trail to the bike path in Franconia Notch, thence to the payphone at the Flume.

Weakened after missing dinner and skipping breakfast, I gritted my way past Mount Lafayette on a lacking diet of candy bars. I dragged myself to the Flume parking lot, but couldn’t get a ride into Franconia. Strangers took me for “hiker trash.” An older couple answered my appeal for help with, “Not today, thank you.” In frustration I replied, “I just hiked 20 miles in the mountains.” The lady answered, “Do you want us to call the police for you?” I finally reached Tricia on the payphone. She contacted Rick and Judy, who were holding my maildrop, and they came to get me. Months later, Judy commented, “You seemed to be walking on air, like you’d been holding your breath for a long time.”