There are several chunks of New Hampshire that Appalachian Trail (AT) thru-hikers fear/loathe/admire/respect more than others — one notable example being the Mahoosuc Notch, that one billed as “the toughest mile on the AT.” The guide books speak of the wildness or ruggedness of these chunks. The words they use in these tomes may conjure up visions of deep, dark, and prehistoric wilds, the wet rock nearly completely covered with slick mosses — and that’s not far off.
Spared of the gnarly “Cannonballs” to the west lying between the rugged Kinsmans and steep Cannon Mountain, NoBo or northbound thru-hikers cross the street and ascend Franconia Ridge, there enjoying a sublime but not technical jaunt across an extremely pretty alpine ridge. One of these tough chunks follows this bit, however. As they wander past North Lafayette, noting that this part is more pristine than Lafayette itself, like nobody goes there, they then drop onto Garfield Ridge. That’s where things starting gelling into reality. Sure, it is the AT, but who made this? What’s with the mud and slick rocks? For the next five miles or so, there will be some tough going. The toughest thus far.
It’s for this chunk that we were hired by a person section hiking and in the process of pushing NH aside. They wanted some company on this section because… you never know. On the job for this unique backpacking adventure was Redline Guide Michael Scire. The plan was an unusual one. The hiker was going to be at Greenleaf Hut and that is where Michael was to meet them (a big cost savings). From there they would hike together across Garfield Ridge arriving at Galehead Hut well before dinner. There they would stay, the plan being to hike out of Gale River Trail in the morning. It was such a nice day, however, the team decided to get that remaining steep but short 0.8 mile section leading to the much taller South Twin summit before heading down. This was a private tour so we don’t have many photos, but Michael did grab these.