Thursday October 6: Zealand Falls to Home
An Easy Ending
Again, I slept well. Woke up around 6 or 6:15 and lay there until the wakeup call at 6:30. Knee is better so far. The sleeping pads are rather thin, so I have to keep rolling over during the night, or my lower hip starts getting sore. I used my sleeping bag last night. Good choice, I was rather comfortable.
In one sense, it seems silly to just hike out, as that hike is so short. It seems more appropriate to do a day hike here and then leave. But my knee, while it feels OK now (just after breakfast) may not stay that way, and I have things to do back home. If it werenít for my knee last night, it would have been tempting to skip the hut and just hike out to the car.
I really lucked out with the weather. It rained the night before I started, it was unusually warm and sunny while I hiked, and now there is a chance for rain tomorrow.
At one point, the sun came over the ridge and hit the front of the hut. In the bunk room, it was literally like someone turned on a light switch. It got bright that suddenly.
(Now at the car)
Someone once said to always leave them wanting more. That is definitely the case for me. The weather and the foliage are so wonderful, that I would really like to do more. But if it wasnít for the time, my knee would keep me from doing more. It isnít too bad right now, but if I did any up and down, it would start hurting again.
The steep rocky part just below Zealand Hut was par for the course for ĺ of my hike, and much better than some stretches (particularly along the Garfield Ridge). Afterwards, the trail was level and for the most part smooth and flat. It was almost like walking on a road.
I was actually sad when I saw the cars and parking lot, because that meant that my adventure was over.
About a third of the way out from Zealand I passed a couple. He was with a big shaggy dog, but she was walking along with a goat trotting just in front of her. I guess she was taking her goat for a hike.
Returning to civilization after the hike was almost like a culture shock. I really didnít want to end my trip and return to reality. I stopped by The Basin to visit that old haunt, and I drove around the notch a bit trying to get a good picture of Lafayette (I didnít). Eventually I ended up at Lincoln around noonish, where I stopped for lunch at a neat cafť that we had eaten at a year or two ago (Gypsy Cafe, "Food From Around the World"). Even though it was only Friday, Lincoln was already starting to get crazy with the leaf-peepers in for the long weekend. By the time I finished lunch and got out of Lincoln, I was mentally back in civilization, and I was eager to get home.
Just south of Concord NH, I marveled at the amount of traffic heading north, and I was really glad that I wasnít going in that direction. OTOH, there was a lot of traffic, some slow, on 495, so my return wasnít all smooth sailing.
I have mostly good memories of the trip, although I will never hike the Garfield Ridge again, and I canít say I was too happy hiking downhill with a sore knee. Interestingly it doesnít hurt much now, but I think if I put some weight on my back and went up and down steps, it would start to hurt. Hopefully that means that I didnít do any serious damage.