It’s not often on the trail when you get a perfect day. More often than not it’s too hot, cold, wet, dry, whatever. Yesterday was just right.
The Little Rabbit (she’s back!) dropped me off at the trail head around 6 am. I had a lot of climbing to do and wanted an early start. The sun was out, the temps were great, the trail was dry. Hog heaven for a hiker.
I prearranged to stay at the Lake of the Clouds Hut located just a mile before the summit of Mt Washington. It’s only 11 miles to the hut but with the amount of climbing I have to do I don’t know when I will get there. With the perfect conditions today, and deteriorating conditions tomorrow I would really like to go past the hut, summit Mt Washington, then return to the hut for the night. Then I can bypass the mountain when conditions are poor tomorrow.
The first climb up Mt Webster was the warm up for the day. Rising from 1200′ at the road to 3900′ over 4 miles there were rewarding views at several ledges on the way up. At the top I get my first glimpse of the day’s stretch goal.
Up next, Mt Jackson is the beginning of the Presidential Range of mountains. Climbing to 4052′ I get an even better view of Mt Washington.
Previously on the AT, planners seemed to go out of their way to make the trail more difficult. I remember often in MD and PA that the trail would go up and down the side if a hill rather than following the easiest path. So it is surprising that here in the Whites that the AT is actually routed around some mountain summits. The white blazed AT skirts the edge of the mountain while there is a blue blazed trail over the summit.
Around 11 I made it to the Mizpah Hut. I was ahead of schedule so I took a break and had a great lunch. The Little Rabbit and I had gone to a Mexican restaurant the night before and I brought the remainder of my burrito. A little heavy to carry but oh so tasty! And now it’s out of my pack.
Normally I avoid getting off the AT to take a blue blazed trail. It’s considered cheating by some to skip parts of the AT this way and to date I have avoided doing so. Today’s blue blazed trail over Mt Eisenhower was too tempting. Longer and harder than the part of the AT that I missed it wouldn’t weigh on my conscience. And the view was fabulous.
By the time I reached Mt Monroe I was feeling the effort of the day. I didn’t want to over-do it and risk not getting to do Mt Washington today. So I continued on the AT and skirted around this mountain.
I made it to the Lake of the Clouds Hut around 2 pm. I checked in and dropped off my pack. I grabbed my extra shirt and down puffy jacket. I figured it would be cooler at the top and coming back down.
It’s almost a mile and a half and another 1000′ of climbing to the top. It felt strange not having my pack or hiking poles.
At the top the view is awe inspiring. No way to describe it, the pictures below don’t don’t do it justice. On a clear day it seems you can see forever. It would be a peaceful place except for the motorcycles. Wait, What? Yes, motorcycles. Dozens of them all over the mountain. Rumbling up, rumbling down, loudly idling in the parking lot. A little ways south of here a small town is having a ‘bike week’. It’s one of the biggest motorcycle gatherings in the country. And today the Mt Washington auto road is closed to traffic except for motorcycles. Oh well, it may not be peaceful, but the view is to die for!
I had a hot dog at the cafe and toured the small museum. Got my picture at the summit sign. And decided it was time to head back to the hut. Dinner is at 6 pm and I don’t want to miss that!
The hut croo served a pumpkin and mushroom curry soup, homemade bread, salad, and lasagna. All served family style. This was followed by a raspberry chocolate cake for desert.
At 7:30 One of the croo took a few of us on a guided tour of a few of the alpine flowers. Then it was off to bed at 8:30… The end of a perfect day.
Onward and northward,
Day number: 64
Miles hiked today: 0
AT miles completed: 954
AT miles to go: 1235
Average miles per day: 14.9