Today began with a question from Papa Monkey: how long would it take to drive to Maryland to get my car? The answer was seven and a half hours. That posed a second question: should we get it?
Actually, that's the question I posed to myself. Papa Monkey's immediate response was more along the lines of, "dude, let's get your car. If we left now, we could still be back today". I was dubious of that argument, but I mumbled that I'd think about it over breakfast.
I was already growing weary of the logistics involved with slackpacking, and kind of wanted to be done with it and get back to "regular" hiking. Pretty much the only time we've really had any chance to talk to other hikers is when we've stayed at hostels; there are few other hikers at hotels or parking lot campsites.
But, the Whites were coming up, which almost begged to be slackpacked. A second car would make the logistics way easier, even if there was still a lot of driving involved. And we wouldn't need to involve Rainbow's friend, who wouldn't be available to slack us the entire way anyway.
And, if I got my car up north, it'd make getting home a lot easier. At the least, more interesting, since I'd be able to stop and sightsee on the way back home.
I must be suffering from some sort of whiplash now, going from being weary of slackpacking logistics to agreeing that it was a good idea to spend a whole day getting my car.
So, we went on a road trip, from Rutland, VT to Silver Spring, MD. On the way, we stopped by Rainbow's house in PA to pick up his Garmin and some other supplies. We also completely formulated our plan for the Whites, and it was a doozy, thanks to AMC hut availability.
Along the trail in the Whites are a series of eight "huts" operated by the AMC, actually, relatively large facilities that provide bunk space, a common area, and food service. They tend to be rather expensive (because it is really expensive to get supplies in; resupply involves helicopter drops and hut crew packing in supplies twice weekly from wherever the nearest access road is), and fill up fast because they're serving all hikers who hike in the Whites, not just AT thru-hikers.
Because we were trying to accommodate including Clo Bear, who said she'd like to join us, we were limited with our selection of days for hut availability; days where there were still spots for four people were limited.
We broke the Whites into four sections, each two days wide. (The sections were: NH 25 to Franconia Notch; Franconia to Crawford Notch; Crawford to Pinkham Notch; and Pinkham to Gorham.) Two sections, Franconia to Crawford, and Pinkham to Gorham, required overnighting of some sort in the woods, since there was no road access in the middle of those sections. Thus, we decided to stay at Galehead and Carter Notch huts for those two sections.
This would be expensive, but Papa Monkey and I wanted to try the "hut experience" at least once; and in both cases, the huts were ideally positioned; camping at a regular shelter or campsite would make one of the days of each pair much longer and harder than necessary.
Because of availability constraints, we wound up with reservations for Carter Hut for the four of us on the 11th, and two sets of reservations for two, on the 20th and 22nd, for Galehead. This resulted in a rather complicated and out-of-order hike, where we'd continue hiking up to the southern border of the Whites, then skip into the middle of the Whites, keep going north into Maine, and then return to finish the southern part of the Whites in two separate teams. Just handling Mt. Washington was a crazy plan itself, because of the auto road to access the summit.
It troubled me somewhat that we were needed such a complicated plan, and that I'd have such a large hole and start Maine before finishing New Hampshire, but if we wanted to do what we were doing with four people, it was the least bad option.
After a detour to Mohammad's house to pick up a house key (he's been kind enough to check on my house and take in the mail from time to time), we got to my house at 6:30 pm (closer to a ten hour drive). Mohammad had reported that the last time he tried to start my car, it was having a very hard time, and that it seemed battery related. That was a week or so ago. Since Papa Monkey wanted to head back immediately, I tried to start my car just to make sure it'd work. But when I did, nothing happened. The battery was completely dead. Fortunately, I had jumper cables in the trunk, so we hooked it up to Papa Monkey's car and got it to start. We let it idle to charge the battery while I grabbed things from my house, including a set of regular street clothes, and my good camera.
Rainbow and I left my house around 7, making a detour back to Mohammad's house to drop off my house key, and we headed north. Deciding not to leave the battery to chance, we detoured to an auto shop in Columbia, where I got a new battery. The old battery appeared to have started to corrode, and might have even been the car's original battery. (I may need to have words with the dealership that was supposed to have replaced the battery when I had it serviced last winter.)
Then we drove. For hours. We finally made it back up to the motel in Rutland at 4:15 am, and promptly crashed into our beds.