White Mountains, New Hampshire 2017 / by William Bryan

Jay is a varsity athlete on the track and field team. I’m not.

Jay runs ~70 miles a week to train. I don’t run. Ever.

Jay likes suffering, it’s why he likes running. I can’t say no.

That’s how we ended up hiking 23 miles and 5,000 feet in elevation in two days.

I woke up that Monday morning craving the outdoors so I walked across the hall and asked my roommate if he wanted to go backpacking over weekend.

Jay before coffee

Jay before coffee

As soon as Jay (plus the late addition of an old coworker) got off of work on Friday night we loaded into my car and hit the road. We crashed at a campsite a few miles from our trailhead Friday night and got up early Saturday to hike. When we made it to the parking lot Jay looked at the map and suggested we scrap the hikes I’d looked up and go for one he noticed on the sign.

The trail he proposed was an 8-mile hike to our campsite with the option to make it a loop by taking a different route on our way back the next day. It seemed to offer better views than any of the ones I’d found online so we went for it.

Day 1 was mild for the most part: seemingly flat for the first half and only a slight incline until close to the very end when we climbed up a dry waterfall. We got to our campsite mid-afternoon and hung out until just after sunset before passing out.

When we woke up the next morning we decided that we didn’t want to hike back the same way we’d come. Jay guestimated that we were 45% done with the loop so we said “why not?” and went for it.

Day 2 was the hardest, most grueling 8 hours of hiking I’ve ever done.

We were most definitely NOT almost halfway done after the first day. We were maybe a third of the way around the loop.

Hiking along the Franconia Ridge Trail we went up and down peak after peak. It didn’t take long before I completely zoned out and focused on putting one foot in front of the other.