Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Day 108: Mt Washington!

8/5: Mt Pierce - Parapet Brook
Mile: 1850.9 - 1865.5 (14.6 miles)

I could watch the sunrise from my tent with Mt Washington looming in the background. It wasn't very cold and easy enough to get going, excited by the day to come. It's beautiful out here and the climb to the Lake of the Clouds hut isn't bad. Surprise icy spring water and great views. Only 1.6 miles from the base of Mt Washington it seems like a very popular hut.

Hoping for breakfast leftovers I stall, they are super busy but eventually there are 4 of us hovering and in exchange for sweeping the bunk rooms we can have eggs with cheese and leftover brownies. A worthy exchange but also quite the time killer. It's fun talking to people getting ready to go hike up the mountain but I can already tell this day is about the section not the miles.

The climb up to Washington isn't bad at all. It's above tree line and all rocks but I've been enjoying the climbing and the views are great. More surprising is the heat, the hut told us highs of 68 and the sun beating down sure feels that way.

The summit is a zoo, I have to wait in line to get a picture and people are everywhere. There's a road and a cog railway that bring people by the boatload not to mention soothe trails. But it's fun, 4 of us gather and charge phones and check out the museum. This place is renowned for its wicked weather and I can't get over how lucky I've been.

Done with crowds and snacking it's back to gorgeous views. Staring at the train and more rocky trail.

I start to fade about 2 miles later. The rocks aren't awful and it's 500 ft climbs and drops on repeat but they are graded pretty nicely. Really it's the sun. There's no shade and I'm struggling. I finally remember I carry an umbrella and then I find another unexpected spring and all is right in my world again.

Down to another hut, Madison this time and into the shade for a much needed break.

Lots more hikers trickle in and it's at least 6 of us who head straight up Madison. More climbing than hiking but it's fun. The descent is what gets me. 2.6 miles of downhill should not be so tough but they are. The rocky ridge line is gorgeous but slow. The real kicker is hitting tree line where the trees start and there's a little dirt but still mostly rock and a ridiculously steep grade.

The trail heads down that ridge, if you squint you can see the line of cairns.

Staring backup at what I've been climbing down.

At the bottom I sit down exhausted. I fee like I could fall asleep right there but there are boy scouts and a ton of tents so I head just a bit farther and find an official campsite that isn't even on my map. I'm itchy with dried sweat and dirt and wash off in the gloriously cold river before passing out.

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