Today, however, we would be hiking over them, and as it turned out, we woke up to a gorgeous morning. We called the commercial shuttle, and they picked us up at 7:00. We were so tired from yesterday, that we all slept in some. When we reached the parking lot, first we had to hiked that mile-long back path, that we had finished up on the day before, where we met Duster. It seemed such a waste to have to hike an addition mile on pavement just to reach the trail, but that was the situation. This is where the shuttles let you off.
We hit the trail, and immediately got slapped in the face by this incredible endless climb up this trail made of huge rocks. By this time, taking big steps up really does wear on our knees, so this was a tough start to the day. This climb went on for 2.8 miles, and we stopped and rested a couple of times on the way up. At the top was a campsite with a really great spring, and we filled up on water. The caretaker at that campsite told us it was the best water in the Whites, and we had to agree. Ice cold, and delicious!
We then were up on Franconia Ridge, and stayed above the tree line for another 2 miles as we walked along this gorgeous trail, along the ridgeline. The view was just incredible. We crossed Little Haystack Mountain, and you could see the trail in front of you, as it went up and over Mt. Lincoln, then Mt. Lafayette. We kept saying we would wait until Lafayette for lunch, but each time we passed a peak, another, even higher peak would come into view, and we would head for that one. We kept repeating this again and again, and then finally, we reached Lafayette, and stopped for lunch. There were a LOT of dayhikers on the ridge, as most of them had stayed at the huts, and were not camping out. They all carried light daypacks. They also were intrigued by what we were doing, and would stop and ask lots of questions.
Once we got off of the ridge, it was getting cloudier, and we were anxious to get a tent up before any rain began. Rain often forms here in the afternoon, and it's normal to have a shower, so we'd prefer to keep things dry if possible. We had a printout that we had gotten from an earlier hostel, letting us know where the stealth sites were in the Whites, and so we headed down to Garfield Pond, and soon found some great campsites in the woods, well off of the trail. Just as we were about to unpack, we heard voices. It was two other hikers who were letting us know that there were drier, higher tent sites over by them. We went over to check it out, and it was a better site. They were two section hikers named Poncho and PB Whack (he works for the forest service - picture Paul Bunyan with a chain saw), and we totally enjoyed camping with them. Later on, a hiker from New Orleans, NOLA, showed up, and joined us. We had a nice quiet camp there by the pond.