$38 :: lunch, movie, caves, grocs
45.45 mi :: 4.40 hr :: 34.3 mph :: 9.6 mph :: 5820 mi
I’m ready to go early, so Lee, Vic, and I say our goodbyes and I take off. It has rained all night and is now mist and rain. Since New York the towns have started having many parts. I go through Haverhill, Haverhill Corner, and North Haverhill, but miss East Haverhill. Black Mountain is fairly wild and pretty, so I stop for a snack in the rain. I sit on a big wet boulder, listening to sounds in the woods.
I’m hoping the weather will improve so I can climb Mount Mooselake on the Appalachian Trail. I take my time on the climb, but no luck, it’s grey and rainy at the pass.
Instead I investigate Lost River Caves. This is a deep granite gorge which has partially filled with glacial debris, creating small caves and underground flows. The rock is beautifully sculpted, in many places by long-abated whirlpools that once reached sixty feet deep. My favorite cave, the Lemon Squeezer, requires me to crawl through a space so small I must completely exhale to make it into the main crawlway, where the only light comes from a dull orange candle. Below the river thunders. I’ve never experienced anything like it.
I have a snack and walk back into the rain, feeling oddly powerful and self-sufficient. When I get on the bike and head down the hill, I realize the hill is steep. Next, I realize the brakes have no effect due to the water. Both hands squeezing for all they’re worth, I continue to accelerate. My heart races and my knees start to shake. Mentally, I assess the situation. Smooth road – good. Blinding rain – bad, but not fatal. Scenery continues to whiz by, and, realizing I can maintain this state, I relax. Eventually the grade lets up and I regain control. I cruise into Lincoln, the base of my final climb into the mountains. It will be my last chance to top a peak, so I decide to stall for better weather. I eat, shop, make calls, read, and see a movie. When I get out, it’s dark and rainy. I feel burly riding the four miles up the road to the nearest campground in the dark, rainy night. My headlight isn’t working again, so I use the headlamp instead. Perhaps it’s the joy of being strong enough to do what I want, things that many people wouldn’t even consider.