Last night we slept at Lake of the Clouds Hut doing work for stay. It was quite a surreal experience. Since we got there early, we sat around a table we had occupied playing chess. We had to be a sight playing chess next to our mini bag explosion as paying guests waited for dinner, watching us. One of the nice features about the huts is that they always over-cook and feed the extra food to thru-hikers. Let me assure you it was awesome! In fact, it was very difficult to eat everything they gave us. I really had to force the last couple cookies down, but they frown upon not eating what you take, so, what could I do other that eat the cookies? In the morning, we woke up early since we had our clothes hanging up on a line and were sleeping on the tables in the common area/dining hall. We got fed some scrambled eggs, drank some coffee, and headed out to the summit in what we knew was going to be bad weather. Even though the weather was bad, and we didn't see a view until the end of the day, the experience was awesome! We were tired pushing out the last couple of miles into Pinkham Notch where the day took on a completely surreal experience. Starting the day with a tough ridge walk in bad weather and ending it at Rosemary and John's restored 19th century farmhouse was amazing. Rosemary and John are amazing people, and I am very glad we had the opportunity to meet them.
Lakes of the Clouds Hut to Pinkham Notch. Homemade Doughnuts were being made as we awoke on the dining room tables this morning. We had a roof over out heads last night and it was nice knowing that because I could hear the wind howling over the ridge. At the base of Mount Washington...it sounded cold. One of the paying guests used the bathroom like four or five times last night. I knew it was the same person because she must have been wearing wooden clogs or something: Cloppitty, cloppitty, clop over the wooden floor, door opens and closes...just enough time to dose, door opens and closes, cloppitty, cloppitty, clop over the wooden floor. I put my ear plugs in and dreamt of horses in a distant cold mist.
We ate free two day old pancakes and drank "sort of" recently brewed coffee as I eyeballed the fresh, warm, soft doughnuts one of the hut employees was making for the "paying" guests. He did scramble us a bowl of eggs, and for that we were grateful. As we were readying for bed the night before we threw our typical evening clothes line (...in the dining hall, after the guests went to bed of course...), and I wanted to wake up early and have it down before the hut guests came in for dinner. I didn't notice, but Coach informed me after making his morning deposit that apparently us, and our clothes line, completely stunk up the dinning hall. A nice pungent odor of thru-hiker and sweet doughnuts...it must have been confusing for the paying guests before coffee.
6:45 departure from Lakes of the Clouds to summit Mt. Washington. We geared up with our weather armor, and layered with every piece of clothing in our pack. Less than an hour later we were on the summit: 50 mph winds, 32 degrees F with a wind chill of 10-20 degrees F (we learned all this at the ranger station on the summit). Hung out with the rangers for about 30 minutes, then we began our 8 mile exposed ridge-line hike through the weather. Slippery rocks, snowbanks, ankle breakers. We had 20-40 yards of visibility, just enough to see the next rock pile indicating that we are still on the "trail," if you want to call it that. Wet, rain, mist, ring out your gloves, ring out your socks, jump from rock to rock, and watch your step.
The sky opened up right as we were exiting the ridge. Long technical hike as we entered into the tree line. Tired. Unblazed trail, confusion. Finally we reached a parking lot...Rosemary to save the day. Bananas and strawberries in the car. John grilled local chicken. Bread, salad, potato salad, beans, fruit pudding angel food cake dessert. Beer, bed.