Wednesday October 5: Galehead to Zealand Falls
Hiking on a Sore Knee
Last night I didnít take the 4-hour antihistamine. I woke up at 4, and couldnít fall back asleep again. I hit the bathroom, and eventually I dozed.
Stress seems to be related to choices ahead. Now that Iím on the trip, there are no more choices, just doing it, so I am not nearly as stressed as I was before the trip.
My left knee was rather sore in the morning, so I got some Ibuprofen from the honeymooning couple. Roslynís shoulder was still rather sore, so she was just going to hang around the hut while Kathryn did some day hiking. (I found out afterwards that she had fractured her shoulder!)
Like yesterday, the day started out with a brisk 1000 foot climb straight up South Twin. This was the really ugly rock that I didnít like yesterday. The saving grace was that I was going up it and not down. The trail makers in the White Mountains really need to learn what a switch-back is.
I ended up hiking up the first part of the rock with Kathryn, but then I outpaced her and arrived at the summit without her. There were some other hikers from the hut already there, and after a short time, Kathryn showed up.
After enjoying the view from the top, I said goodbye to Kathryn and started down towards Guyot. There was an initial steep rocky drop, but then it mellowed out. The stretch down to Mt. Guyot was some of the nicest so far on the trip. It was fairly smooth and had only a small incline. I could make decent time despite my left knee.
At one point, the trail crossed what looked like a rock slide, which was strange as the hillside wasnít very steep, and there was not a big slope above the trail. It offered some good views towards Owlís Head behind which Galehead Hut was hiding.
Ahead of me was a nice bald knob, Mt. Guyot. For whatever reason, the shrubs on it were only about a foot high with no trees. The trail turned just before it. I debated a while, then deciding that I wanted to enjoy the hike despite my knee, so I hiked a side trip to Guyot. Iím really glad that I did. It offered great views of both the Franconia Brook valley and the ridge line that I descended yesterday. I really like being on a ridge, clear of trees, and with good views. I stopped for lunch and took a bunch of pictures.
Then I left Guyot, returned to the main trail, went up and over the shoulder of Mt Zealand, and started the slog down to Zealand Hut. This was the unhappy hiking time. I was off the ridge and descending through forest. That didnít interest me as much as the higher stuff. It wouldnít have been a bad hike if it wasnít for my left knee. It was really getting sore, particularly on the down, and almost all of that stretch was down (I had to loose almost 2000 feet). Still it was a lot better than the previous dayís trail down the Garfield Ridge. I canít imagine if I were trying to go from Galehead to Greenleaf with my knee in this state, but if I hadnít already done that stretch, my knee might not have been hurting.
Once I left Guyot, it was a basic slog downhill, in constant pain, knowing that I had really no choice except to continue. I couldnít help thinking of the joke where a patient tells his doctor, ďDoctor! Doctor! It hurts when I do this!Ē and the doctor replies ďWell, then stop doing it!Ē In my case, however, the answer was to keep doing it for several more hours. Stopping wasnít really an option.
At one point, I passed an unmarked side trail to the left. I was really surprised that there were no signs anywhere. I dug out my map and trail guide, and I figured out that this was a side trail, and that I wanted to go straight.
I think my Guardian Angel wanted to teach me a lesson about responsibility. This time, he waited until I was about 10 minutes down the trail before telling me to check for my camera. I dropped my pack and in an almost panic raced back up the trail. Fortunately, this trail was much nicer than the Garfield Ridge one.
I found the camera right where I left it. Going back was much easier than going down, both because I was going up, but also because I didnít have my pack on. Perhaps it was also due to a shot of Adrenaline. Still, I would have preferred no detour. I didnít rest easy until I got back down to my pack safely and continued down the trail.
Just past Zeacliff trail, I tuned off for a short detour to a view point. I figured that I shouldnít give up the views just because of my knee.
Then there was a never-ending slog down. I wasnít worried in the sense that I knew I would eventually get to the hut, and I would do so before dinner and dark, but it would be a painful journey. The trail was much better than the Garfield Ridge. At one point there was even a ladder down a short patch of steep rocks. I remember thinking that if this had been the Garfield Ridge trail, there wouldnít have been a ladder.
I ended up mis-remembering the trail. I thought that it went downhill and then it teed into another trail. At that point, I probably had another mile or two before the hut. So I was pleasantly surprised to see a sign saying that I was ľ mile from the hut. It turns out that the trail takes a left at Zeacliff, and that was what I had been thinking of.
At the very end of the trail, I wasnít sure if I was hiking down the trail or down the stream bed.
I spent almsot all day in just my tee shirt (short sleeved), although I put on my soft shell during lunch, partially for the cold, but mostly to use the hood to block the sun.
It is strange to wear a tee shirt all day outside, and then to put on my heavier stuff when I came indoors. Of course, most of that is the sun setting (and me becoming mostly idle).
There is a school group staying at Zealand Hut. So they have one half of the hut, and the rest of us have the other half. This makes the Zealand Falls hut by far the most full of my trip. I canít imagine how noisy it is going to be tonight. (It actually was quiet; I was surprised.)
I got some ibuprofen from another hiker when I got in. Now my knee doesnít feel too bad, between the drugs and my not using it.
The battery in my camera is about gone, and my spare battery is dead (as in not working at all), so Iím saving my remaining pictures for tomorrow. I guess I get to enjoy the stars tonight without taking pictures. (I forgot that I had brought two spare batteries for my camera. It turns out the second spare was fine.)
This hut, unlike the other two, has indoor toilets in a semi-attached out building. It is going to be cold if have to use it at 3 am. I think Iím going to try the blankets and liner tonight rather than the sleeping bag. I thought it would be warmer at the lower elevation.