Garefield You Must Be Kidding

July 23, 2010 2:23 am Leave your thoughts

Location: Garefield Ridge Campsite Garefield Mountain

It rained hard the night before, but had let up after early morning. The forecast was for clearing later in the day but rain later the next afternoon. I originally planned to make 13 miles but as I learned of the forecast I decided to press on 6 more so I could get closer to the Franconia Ridge and hopefully cross it the next morning before storms set in.

19 miles in the Whites was a bit ambitious since the terrain is pretty rough and I had a late start trying to avoid the morning rain. It was tough and muddy all day.

When I decided to make the last 3 mile push from the AMC Galehead hut to the Garefield campsite it was already 7pm. I knew I would be getting in late and even after dark but I really wanted to make Franconia Ridge the next day in good weather so I pushed on.

It got dark and I put on my head lamp. It was my first night hiking experience and the biggest problem I had was not swallowing the moths that were making dive bombs for my head lamp. I was gaining altitude and  it was getting cold. I was soaked in sweat and contemplating “stealth camping” somewhere off the trail. I would run the risk of a ticket but wasn’t sure I could make the campsite.

Just as I was about to give up and set up camp I saw a sign that said “Garefield Ridge Campsite .5” I thought “I can do this, I haven’t met a half mile I couldn’t bang out yet!” I pushed in hard and fast.

I was starting to wonder if I was there yet when I ran smack into a waterfall! I stopped and thought to myself, ok its dark maybe I missed a turn. I looked around frantically for a turn or side trail. Nothing. I deduced the trail actually went straight up the middle of the waterfall.

I said out loud “Garefield you must be kidding!!!” I looked at the waterfall for a way up it without getting wet. It was definitely climbable but the water levels were high from the heavy rains the night before. I knew I wasn’t going to get up this without getting pretty wet.

I wasn’t happy about having to do this, especially in the dark but I made the decision to move fast and get it over with. I climbed up the waterfall as quickly as I could safely manage. It wasn’t an easy climb and I got absolutely soaked.

I made it to camp just as the caretaker was going to bed. I set up my hammock glad to have made it but very wet and cold.

I have learned to keep dry clothes in a zip lock bag for sleeping in. Unfortunately I was wearing my jacket while hiking that night and it was soaked with sweat and waterfall. I could not sleep with it on and at that altitude it was freezing!!! One of the coldest nights sleep I have had yet.

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