We managed a quick departure this morning as well; I got up at 5:15, and we left Hikers Welcome by 6. This wasn't quick enough for Papa Monkey, who wanted to leave earlier; Rainbow had overslept, and Papa Monkey was annoyed I hadn't done more to make sure he was up and moving. (I'll note that I've never needed to give either of them a wake up call before, and there was no reason to think one would have been necessary today.)
After moving my car to the trailhead at NH 25, we drove to Kinsman Notch, and got started hiking around 6:45. Near the Kinsman Notch trailhead, there was trail magic left from yesterday from Tick-tock's wife, with some sodas and sugar-free (!) brownies still remaining. I didn't take anything, but later, I regretted not chugging a soda for the extra calories.
Near the trailhead, a sign warned of the difficulty of the trail. "This trail is extremely tough. If you lack experience, please use another trail. Take special care at the cascades to avoid tragic results."
As expected, the trail up Mt. Moosilauke was a very steep climb along side of the waterfall on the north side of the mountain. There were plenty of places where there was rebar and wooden stairs attached to the rock; it'd have been pretty treacherous without. It was definitely a good idea to do this section SOBO, rather than NOBO; I wouldn't have wanted to climb down that part of the trail even if it had been completely dry.
On the was up the waterfall, Rainbow began making videos of himself with a fake Australian accent discussing the hike up the mountain. They grew gradually more outlandish, as we became "7 hours" into our hike, climbing the mountain to "37,000 feet", with "no water" (but a beautiful waterfall behind us).
While I took a brief break at the Beaver Brook Shelter, just past the top of the waterfall, Papa Monkey and Rainbow passed me. I gradually caught up with them on my way to the summit, which was less steep from there.
There was a great view from the summit of Mt. Moosilauke, and I lingered there a few minutes (though not too long, since it was somewhat windy). From the summit down to the road, the trail was rocky, and occasionally steep, but the last two miles turned out to be very nice. (This seems to be a theme lately; the few miles entering or exiting the mountains tends to be nice, before devolving into a rocky mess.)
After catching up with Rainbow and Papa Monkey after the summit, Rainbow said that there was a dead moose carcass just past the summit. I didn't notice it, though, since I was focused on the trail.
It took us about six hours to do just under ten miles; in a welcome (for me) change, I managed to get to the trailhead first, by about ten minutes.
We went to retrieve Papa Monkey's car, and then drove back to Lincoln so Papa Monkey and Rainbow could both get new tips for their poles, which had broken off yesterday and today due to the rocky terrain.
At the same shopping center as the outfitter, we got Chinese food, and had a rather sour experience there when they charged us $2.75 per soda, in tiny glasses, with no free refills, without either disclosing the price or that there were no free refills.
Several times, we'd heard good things about "Chet's Place", a hostel run by a guy name Chet, which was not advertised at all and ran on donations. We finally got the address yesterday, when I stopped at a Rite Aid to pick up more toe spacers. While I was in the store, Papa Monkey saw two other hikers on the street corner, and they just happened to know where Chet's Place was.
So, today, after we picked up my car, we drove to Chet's house, and after Papa Monkey scoped it out to make sure he'd be ok with us parking in his driveway (or even, showing up by car at all; some hostels are explicitly no-drive-ups), we moved our cars from the parking lot across the street into his driveway.
Chet's Place is a converted garage, with a combination of bunks, and mattresses lying on the ground. I'd liken it a bit more to a dungeon; it was very dimly lit. The bathroom/shower and laundry were in the basement, accessed by going outside and in via the basement's outside door. (There was also a request not to use the dryer since it beats the basement up, a problem since there was a basement apartment in use.) Given what we were paying, it was nice, and I truly appreciate what Chet is doing for the hiker community, but I don't think I'd want to stay here again. (Granted, it was still way better than some of the hotel's I'd stayed in down south, so, it's not all that bad.)
After I packed my pack for the next two days, we drove to Crawford Notch to plant my car. We spent a bit of time there (and in the rain) trying to confirm this actually lot as the trailhead since the signs were a bit unclear, but we decided it had to be. We found there were two parking lots here; a lower light right next to the road, and an upper lot a quarter of a mile uphill. I almost left my car at the lower part of the parking lot, but Papa Monkey asked if I wanted it there, or at the upper parking lot. I decided to move it to the upper lot (a decision I later decided was sub-optimal since the trail probably came down the hill).
We returned to Lincoln, and grabbed dinner at the McDonald's. Luckily, we got our order in right before a tour bus stopped there and unloaded twenty hungry tourists.
We returned to the hostel, and I went to sleep almost immediately, tired from today's hike.
Tomorrow: we start our two-day hike from Franconia Notch to Crawford Notch.