Currently sitting in the shelter...
Alright, the Whites were kind to me again today. I started off from Mizpah before breakfast, wanting to finally have a day with some solid mileage after yesterday's snoozefest. Also, I was motivated to make it farther than the next hut because I really wanted to get a full night's sleep. This 7-hour schedule induced by the huts has left me feeling sapped. I could tell as soon as I started hiking, but I knew I had to push myself. Luckily, the miles came easily as I followed the ridge downhill into Crawford Notch then back up the other side. I got to Ethan Pond Campsite for lunch, but I was feeling so tired that I decided I would nap for a couple hours then walk the five easy miles to Zealand Falls Hut, where I could work-for-stay again. Caleb, the caretaker for the campsite, talked mileage with me and assured me that I could make it to Guyot Campsite, four miles beyond Zealand. I wasn't sure if I wanted to hike extra miles and then camp somewhere a mile off-trail. However, Caleb told me that it was a beautiful spot and that it was their caretaker's birthday. I made up my mind that I would finally have a big day in the Whites.
The five miles to Zealand flew by; the trail followed an old railroad grade, making it some of the smoothest hiking I can remember. I was giddy to be able to take a drink from my water bottle without stopping. I hoped to do a sort of work-for-snack at Zealand, since I knew that most Huts have delicious baked goods. Sadly, two nobos had cashed in on the opportunity. The cookie bars looked so good that I had to throw down my two dollars, and it was totally worth it. The following climb up Zeacliff was steep but manageable. I find myself thinking that about a lot of climbs lately. I think I'm getting my trail legs. I feel like a tadpole turning into a frog, in a good way. My rule of thumb for calculating my hiking time (a half hour for each mile or thousand feet of elevation change) is no longer valid. Speaking of metamorphoses, I have started to change the background story of my trail name. What I mean to say is that I've started lying. I got bored of telling people "I got up earlier than everyone else" and have begun making up different origin stories for each person I meet. My first victim was Caleb, who was told a story I won't print. I quickly told him the truth, but it was more fun to start off my way.
Anyways, after my climb up Zeacliff, the trail leveled off and I could make good time. I stopped to take a short side trail to a great view of the mountains below and above. I hiked to the side trail that led to Guyot, then hiked the extra mile...ugh. After unsuccessfully trying to pitch my tent on a platform (my tent isn't free-standing), I hopped in to the shelter. It's pretty full with section hikers, day hikers, and one other sobo. An older section hiker is talking everyone's ear off, so it's just about earplug time. She even talks as she writes in her journal, reading her words aloud. I'm not in the ideal conditions for a good night's sleep, but it's better than a hut! Today was a good day; as thru-hiker Kermit said, "Happiness is solar powered!"