Nero Day at Pinkham Notch!

Day 75

We all left camp at slightly different times. Myself I left around 6:00. Breakfast ended at 9:00 am so we had about less than three hours to get there. From our campsite to the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center was about six miles. The trend was downhill, but it was by no means an easy downhill. Indeed, with tired legs and an insatiable appetite, this descent proved to be extremely difficult. The rocks were slippery, but we were all tempted to slow down to get to breakfast. I had a few close calls where my trekking poles kept me from eating it. I finally caught up with Margaritaville who, like me, had eaten nothing in the morning thinking that this descent to breakfast would be quick and effortless. The descent quickly leveled off to a much more manageable grade and we zoomed in on the visitor center. We arrived just before 9am and checked in with the kitchen staff. They asked if we were through hikers and after confirming this they were invited to eat everything leftovers. Scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, sausages, oatmeal, orange juice, cereal, etc. The entire fridge was practically ours. I really got to show off my eating prowess in front of everyone as they watched me stack bacon like I was making a game of jenga. Jackrabbit and Peach Fuzz rolled into the dining room and were relieved to feel the breakfast floating in the air. We ate it all. On top of that, I had two craft root beers to wash it all down. It was clear: we weren’t doing any more kilometers today.

A hiker named Oz joined us for breakfast, but she was the only one. An hour late, other hikers arrived at the visitor center, but the breakfast was gone. They also all took the day off to rest. A storm was brewing, and if anyone kept walking, the Wildcats were there, quietly waiting to suck the soul out of any weary hiker. It was a good day to rest. We lay around the dining room and went home for about an hour. Oz said she was going to Gorham and asked if we all wanted to share a shuttle into town. We accepted this offer with pleasure. We lay on the dining room floor until Ziggy, the shuttle driver, picked us up.

We encountered Chill Out (in the back) who was turning around. We would be hiking around it for the next few days.

Ziggy picked us up and dropped us off at Walmart (his rides were very fair. We all paid $5 each). We needed to restock for the next two days, and we were all a little hungry and wanted more food. I needed some new shoes, so I went to the shoe department hoping and praying that Walmart would have something that could pass as a hiking shoe. Much to my disappointment, they didn’t. I hadn’t had a new pair of shoes since Harpers Ferry so I had absolutely no tread or really a sole in these Lone Peaks. Instead, I bought a cheap insole pad for $14 and prayed it would get me through at least the end of New Hampshire. I still had no grip, but I thought the insole would at least help cushion my steps slightly.

Peach Fuzz and I relax on the bench outside Walmart. We were expelled because we had established our base camp right next to the shopping carts.

After chilling at Walmart for nearly two hours, Ziggy picked us up again and dropped us off at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. We didn’t know where we were going to sleep tonight. The Joe Dodge Lodge was way overpriced, but we didn’t want to go back to a campground either. Luckily I remembered that the business room in the visitor center is open 24 hours a day. There are a bunch of tables, it’s well air conditioned and the visitor center stops monitoring the room after 10am. I threw out the idea that after 10:00 we could just blow up our sleeping pads and sleep on them. Everyone was a little hesitant about the idea, but we didn’t really have many options. They all tentatively accepted this idea. But it was only 3am now, and we had hours until midnight for the hiker. So we decided to settle in the pack room. I bought a whole rotisserie chicken from Walmart and enjoyed that and a soda. The other three had bought two pizzas and gorged themselves on them. I think my chicken was better. We continued to be lazy for hours resting our eyes, engaging in deep conversations on the trail, or forcing ourselves to pump more calories into our system. When it was nearly 8:00 a.m., Jackrabbit left the room and returned a few minutes later. He said he just bought a room at the Joe Dodge Lodge. He wasn’t going to sleep here, and he said there was room for all of us. Margaritaville quickly jumped on this offer while Peach Fuzz and I stuck with my idea. These two fell asleep and soon after, Peach Fuzz gave in and said he wanted to sleep in this room. I said I was staying here and seeing them all tomorrow morning. It was just me. In the pack room. Only. I blew up my air bag, pulled out my duvet, and got ready to sleep. I was on a small bench which was more than enough for one person. I was extremely comfortable and very tired. It had air conditioning, I didn’t have to worry about bugs – I was about to have the best night’s sleep of my life. As I started to close my eyes, the janitor entered.

“Hey how are you?” he asked.

“Good. You?”

“I’m fine. You know you can’t sleep here, right?”

“Yeah, I knew that. I was about to leave.

Damn it. My plan was crushed. I certainly wasn’t about to leave, and I didn’t want to either, but it was clear he wanted me to leave. So I embarrassingly packed my sleeping pad and duvet, repacked all my gear that I had left on the floor (it was so clear I intended to sleep here and he knew it) and I walked out the door. Luckily Jackrabbit told me which room they were all in before they all left, so I stumbled into the room. The door was unlocked, thankfully, and everyone was asleep. The light from the hallway lit up Jackrabbit’s face which in turn woke him up. He looked at me, half asleep and confused, and asked me what I was doing. I told him they fired me and he went back to sleep. I reinstalled my sleep system and fell asleep laughing that I thought I could pull off this plan. I was so close.

Joe Dodge Lodge

~6 miles

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