“Hey, what’s for lunch?” Janelle and I turn from our summit perch and watch as a big, middle-aged hiker with a scruffy pack and both knees wrapped hauls himself up near our rock. The summit of Mt. Webster is on the AT and he looks like a thru-hiker.
“Well,” I begin, “today’s menu is PB&J, pineapple juice and carrots.”
“Sounds great!” he says. “Mind if I join you, I don’t want to bother you two in the middle of lunch.”
We don’t mind at all. In fact, we’ve begun to look forward to the company of other hikers, especially upbeat and cheerful ones like this fellow.
His trail name is Rain Man, and it turns out he’s section hiking. He’d been on the trail through New Hampshire for a week and is going to cap off this part of his AT hike by finishing atop Mt. Washington.
We sit and chat amicably. Well, he does most of the talking, actually. He’s from Tennessee. He tells us about his AT journey so far, and talks proudly about his daughter, who thru-hiked the trail in one shot a couple years ago. “Guess you could say I’m following in her foot-steps, just more slowly,” he says, and laughs.
Janelle sits quietly through most of this, but now speaks up. “What’s a thru-hiker,” she asks.
Uh-oh, I think.
Mt. Webster (8/22/12)
Height: 3,573 feet
Location: Crawford Notch, I-93 to exit 35 to Route 3 north to Route 302 to Highland Center.
Our trailhead: Webster-Jackson Trail (Webster Branch) up and back. Tailhead is located just north of Elephant Head on west side of 302 near Crawford Depot.
Distance: 4.8 miles round trip