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Today I woke up at the Pinnacle Lodge and the last thing I wanted to do was go back on trail. Sort of. I was just so tired and it felt great to be in a bed the night before. I didn’t elevate my feet though, so my feet were very tender. I packed up and hit the road back down to the trailhead with my new knee braces on.
The morning started with a climb up Bromley. I’d done this in the dark on the AT and I also did this section south so this was all new to me. It was a gorgeous hike up the way up. When I came out of the trees the trail continued up the ski slopes. I summitted next to a ski warming hut and a ski chair lift. The views were spectacular. I ended up seeing Renegade, Faithful, and Slow and Steady at the top.
The climb down wasn’t too bad. My knees felt alright with the braces on so I moved at a decent clip. I climbed down to Mad Tom Notch where I met a bus driver who was waiting for a group of highschoolers to come down from Styles Peak. The few people I passed all asked me questions and for a moment it felt like I was a mini celebrity like I was on the AT. They were all amazed that I'd been out for a few days and planned to hike the entire trail. Which to me seemed like not much of an accomplishment since the AT is so much longer. Either way, I appreciated it.
I took a break at the peak and ate lunch and Renegade, Faithful, and a newcomer named Cole joined. Cole is doing the LT but started at Mad Tom Notch.
As the day went on my knees hurt worse and worse so I slowed way down. I started to recognize a lot of the trail and it hit me that this was the part of the trail we did before entering Manchester Center. We climbed up Baker Peak and I realized that this was also the climb I thought was on the other side of Manchester Center with the cliffs and the view toward town. It was just like I remembered. I remembered sitting having a snack and my hiking partner coming out of the trees behind me excited for the view. I could almost see her coming today. My heart ached a bit.
I pushed on to the shelter and we had a large group here including a man who did the AT and PCT in the 90s and a family with a young kid who they let send his pack home because he complained too much. I got water, washed up, meditated, and ate dinner with everyone while we sat around the fire and chatted. It finally feels like a thru-hike again. I’m happy.