9/9 Mount Washington (Camping at Pinkham Notch) (13)

October 16, 2013 at 1:16 pm

IMG_20130908_185425_723What a beautiful day!  We woke up to utter relief after a tough night.  It had been a cold, bitter night where the wind seemed to try to rip the Lake of the Clouds Hut apart by the foundation.  The sunrise accompanied by the calmed winds were welcome sights.  The crew woke us up and had us quietly file into our bench before the guests were woken for breakfast.  IMG_20130909_085625_515

It was tough to smell food again that we couldn’t eat after our long evening the night before of the same, but we had some small snacks in our bags and we tried to focus on packing our things up and warming our limbs.

IMG_20130909_085811_646As we filed out the door, however, the crew offered us some small bowls of cold eggs and oatmeal which we gladly accepted, except for Rainbow Bright, who was preemptively cleaning the bunk rooms in hope of getting some breakfast and had been forgotten by the crew that had sent her there.

IMG_20130909_094603_720Unfortunately for her, they were very distracted by smoking pot (as a regular sleep schedule had denied them for a full eight hours) and making their own breakfast and so she went without.

IMG_20130909_094723_312Nevertheless, it was only a mile to the top of Washington and we were all excited to get some hot food and coffee.  The hike up was gorgeous enough to make up for our previous day and night, and by the time we were standing on top of the observation deck at the top staring out at a 360 degree view of the White Mountains, we felt like our hike was beginning again and we could enjoy the gleeful exuberance of a fresh start in the mountains that we love.

IMG_20130909_095213_366There was max visibility today, a rare occurrence for the notoriously cloudy Washington.  At the top we were waylaid at the cafe for a couple of hours with everyone.  While we were there, Talker showed up!  We asked him where he came from and he explained that they had camped at Webster Cliffs and he was now doing the Presidential Traverse in one day, with his full pack.

IMG_20130909_144814_311Living in NH, we both know the Presidential Traverse as a huge feat that our more athletic friends have undertaken to test their endurance.  We were pretty impressed that Talker was going for it, and cheered him on.  We hiked onward with him, Ripper, and Rambles, who all made good on the tradition of mooning the Cog Railroad.

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We stopped at Madison for amazing sticky bun rolls and then pushed on up Mt. Madison, which is basically a rockslide.  The views out to Mt. Washington showed the autoroad weaving up the mountain like a snake.

IMG_20130909_120451_650Finally we are seeing the mountain from its backside, facing Maine.  The descent down Madison was a wild one where we hopped from rock to rock and slid our way down the mountain.  We lost Talker on his quest to finish the Presidentials in a day.  Then we lost Ripper and Rambles when the trail took an oddly marked turn.

IMG_20130909_135501_104The AT in the White Mountains is minimally marked because of an old Yankee philosophy to keep the original names of the trails.  As a result, it requires the thru hikers to be much more aware of the trail they are on and the surrounding area, a skill that has not been asked of us since perhaps the Smoky Mountains.

IMG_20130909_172242_634We’ve found it to be a refreshing challenge after mindlessly following the white blazes for so long, although it has led to a few creative routes for people.

IMG_20130909_120459_046We had hoped to make it all the way to Pinkham Notch with the expectation that we would be able to find a stealth spot there, but as it grew darker and we began to misstep in the dark of the thick trees, we broke down and made a stealth spot on a flat section of underbrush.  After treading lightly on the delicate alpine and krumholz regions, we are not as worried about crushing some commonplace moss.  We fell into a deep sleep, exhausted but happy that we had made it over Washington on a clear day.

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