The Whites are over, but the Hunger is here. Hiker hunger kicks in around this time on the AT. I thought I had it before, but that was just the beginning. I woke up last night to go to the bathroom, and all I could think about was how hungry I was. I've been eating the same food from before, but now it's not enough. I made plans this morning to stop at Hiker's Welcome Hostel in Glencliff, around the midpoint of my day, for some microwave pizza I had been hearing about. The first part of my day meant climbing the remainder of the way up Moosilauke. I had mixed feelings. On one hand, the Whites were a beautiful and fun challenge that unified all the thru-hikers I had met. On the other hand, I was ecstatic to be done with the hardest section of the trail and to finally consider myself a real thru-hiker. I looked at the summit sign for a long time, then let out a roar. I haven't really had a reason to raise my voice for the past month, so it came out a little quieter than I expected. It started to rain, so I headed down below treeline. After some inevitable rock-hopping, I found myself cruising along an agreeable slope down to the valley below. Before I knew it, I met the road that would bring me to the hostel.
A triumphant Rooster atop Moosilauke
I strolled the half mile, biting into crabapples I picked from a tree. Inside, a previous thru-hiker named Legion greeted me and gave me the rundown on available snacks. I put a personal pizza in the microwave and grabbed a Mountain Dew from the fridge. We talked about the sections up ahead. Legion was impressed with my speed coming this far, so he suggested that I could cruise over this flat terrain to Hexacuba Shelter tonight. The seed was planted. I didn't really know where I would pitch my tent anyway, and sleeping in a shelter solved that problem. In the end, I watched Sports Center and mindlessly ate three pizzas, two ice cream sandwiches, and that soda. Some northbounders stopped in and began asking ME questions about the Whites. I told them not to worry and assured them that they would eat well at the huts. I realized it was time to move on if I planned to meet my new ambitious mileage goal for the day.
A hexagonal shelter
The miles came fast and easy. For starters, it had stopped raining and the sun was even peaking through. Also, the ground was mostly free of those big hindering rocks. I rolled over the slowly undulating terrain with ease, dealing with the sloppy mud bogs as they came. On the way, I caught up to a sobo from the shelter last night. For some reason, he had just given me the willies, and I could tell my shelter-mates shared my feeling. Maybe it was because he was missing teeth, or how he talked, but I wasn't exactly recruiting him to be my new sidekick. I said hi and continued on, with him hiking behind me. I decided it would be easiest just to quicken my pace for a while, and that did the trick. I crossed a couple more roads then had a moderate 2000 foot climb to Cube Mountain. By the time that was over, I felt pretty sapped and glad that the rest of today's trip would be downhill. I unfortunately arrived to an empty shelter, and it has stayed that way. This is a unique shelter because it has six sides instead of the usual box shape. Why wouldn't a six-sided shelter be on Cube Mountain?