On the Fourth Day he Rested?

Justin was the first one up on this morning which is really surprising since he was the least morning person in the
group. My fate had been determined by the caring group and Dad who had decided I was going to get a day of rest at
Gale Head Hut. A large group would make their way up Garfield and back while Dad, Aimee and Courtney remained with me
and took a needed break. They were concerned about my chafe but mostly my leg. As you can see in yesterday’s snow
video, I wasn’t limping while working but by the end of the day my paw was sore even with the boot protector.

Back to Justin though. The night before we had raced just ahead of a potential thunderstorm and late night folks
watched through a bank of windows as the storm crackled in the valley below us. Justin, however, was up early and
sitting on the outside porch relishing in the beauty of an early morning. He said moments like that can make a trip in
and of themselves. Dad and I were the next to rise and Dad took me out for breakfast on his own since without a bear
hang being necessary he could tend my food on his own. He then brought me to the ledge, or rather I brought him, where
Brent had shown us to relieve me the night before. Even with my stiff leg a bit gimpy I could still lead him just fine
and we got to appreciate a little of the moment which had captivated the earlier riser. The only damper for me was the
weedwhacking sound of a wind gauge that was there as part of the Gale Head weather observatory. It sure seems like
that might be better placed a little away from the hut but I guess preserve more wilderness by keeping the cabin and
other man-made aspects all together.

I went straight back to nap mode while Dad had breakfast with everyone else. They were packing very light day packs
and fanny packs for which Dad even donated his brain (the pack version folks!) to T.J. to help out. With light loads
they hoped to make much better time and would be back by 3 so that a Gale Head Summit would be possible if folks were
inspired.

The Hut Caretaker headed out to give a talk at another hut some distance away and she told us a temporary replacement
would be in for the night. She might, however, catch us on the trail the next day when she returned. She’d been gone
about an hour when the alarm of all alarms began to ring in the Hut. A quick check for fire as we all made an exit and
we were sure nothing of risk was in process. From the outside front we evaluated and ultimately decided to explore
cautiously within to see if we could determine what was happening. Dad had cell signal from Loon Mountain (barely and
inconsistent mind you) and so he began calling to get AMC folks to ask what to do. It was comical when they assumed he
was the caretaker and gave him instructions only to explain he was just a lodger. They gave him more instructions and
as he relayed the visual details to the sighted the person suggested he should just do it. There was a long silence
when Dad explained about his blindness. Can you imagine being a Hut Supervisor trying to evaluate the risk to the hut
knowing they have sensitive sensors that need to be reset but discovering you wereh ousing a blind man up on a tough
mountain trail? Reset worked and there were no more incidents but it gave an hour of distraction as well as giving me
the option to quickly tweet an update to the world.

I was, however, on mandatory R&R which I didn’t mind. I kept some tabs on Dad but I stayed laying down and he didn’t
work me except for water and relieve times. Dad had some bonding conversations about life that comes from the sharing
the three of them had done on the hike. They talked about my impact, concerns and likely plans for what would come
next as a result of this day. This day instead of going over Garfield and to the tent site up there which was the
original plan, the trip was being cut off and we would likely make our way down the Gayle River trail and ultimately
emerge early Saturday in the Twin Mountain area without doing Liberty Springs and the Franconia Ridge. I think Dad was
feeling guilty about the impact of our presence on the group. There was certainly a big benefit for the course and for
us to have learned a lot of the things we learned in the first few days. There was also some impact to the trip in not
getting them (or us) the full Pemigewasset loop. The question is what was the ratio of benefit to detriment
andultimately that’s something the class would have to determine individually. Nobody begrudged me or us for the
decision though there was impact for certain. I think the effective reason for Dad’s concern was two factors. Firstly
he knew that if he had put my boots on sooner the biggest part of our challenge would have been eliminated. He
verified that throughout the day with thorough examinations of my legs to determine that the only thing really wrong
for me was that very sore pad that I didn’t like pressing into the ground when I didn’t have to do such. Aimee’s bug
repellent had also made the difference but that too should likely have come sooner too and will on all future hikes.
The second factor was just how rough Dad was on the second day when we travelled up Bondcliff. That was abnormally
challenging for him and while he pushed on fairly well, the fact is it did slow his already slow pace. His prior and
subsequent days were probably more of an indication but that particular day had set back expectations and added to the
exhaustion of the entire group. Whether we would have managed the time schedule up Garfield or not is unclear but
given the earlier terrain the answer is probably yes, just with equal slowness and extended weariness for all involved.
There were many worthwhile aspects to be had out there afterwards and those were gone but there was still a quality day
of travel out the Gayle River trail. Gale Head Hut is nestled up around 3600 feet so there was plenty of climb down
still ahead.

I took the rest and when the full group returned we did many of the activities previously skipped due to the late
nights and long travel of prior days. We had a history lesson from Sherpa on how the White Mountains went from “Savage
Lands” to the vacation resort of the Grand Hotel era. A Painter was the primary influence believe it or not and we all
painted a symbolic impressionistic bit of canvas while he spoke. Dad’s was…’interesting’ and perhaps Aimee will give
it back so we can take a picture and put it up here for explanation someday. It was perhaps most influenced by the
full tale of Guy Watterman and that sadness is for the researchers amongst you. Me – I rested and felt stronger and
better steadily. I still got my increased rations even without the work and I didn’t mind one bit.

Our second stay for my benefit was sponsored by Sherpa who applied some UNH funds from a speaker to help supplement
the cost. Dad agreed to cover the smaller remaining share as thanks for everyone putting me first in their thoughts.
Brent of course did pay for it with us needing to tend that reimbursement after the trip. We could have set out a bit
and found a Bivy site but the rest was higher quality at the hut and off-season prices (by one day) made it worthwhile.

We headed to bed early and I slept fantastically while Dad listened to a book on the 48 by Steve Smith of the Mountain
Wanderrer. It described the following day’s trail in detail and Dad got a second night of quality sleep which would
prepare us for the morrow’s push. I probably could have gone on and been fine but this was the safer choice for me and
now we were sure I could get myself out and probably Guide Dad…as you’ll learn in tomorrow’s tale!

Mighty Q!

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