Lakes of the clouds hut to Pinkham notch
Miles hiked: 14.9
AT Milage: 1872.6
Last night the hut was really cold. It was probably because the hut was at a high elevation of 5,022 feet. I slept on the floor of the dinning room and the 90 guests were up all night long walking back and forth to the bathroom. It was a surprisingly very loud night. In the morning I got on trail at 7:30am and I spent the whole day hiking with another NOBO named “Bullet” who did the work for stay with me last night. The first part of our day was a 1.5 mile hike up to the summit of Mount Washington. The hike consisted of scrambling over boulders all the way to the top. It was very cold and it took about 30 minutes of hiking for me to warm up. As we were making our way up to the summit, we heard and saw the cog blowing off smoke from the bottom of the mountain. At the top, we took pictures of the summit and we had the whole place to ourselves until the staff and first few tourists showed up via car. The summit seemed like it could be an interesting setting for a scifi movie. There was a snack bar, gift shop, and museum that we spent some time warming up at. I sent out some post cards and drank some hot chocolate. I signed the guest register and I was going to look and see if my parents signed it when they visited a month ago but I was surprised to find that there was almost 100 pages of signatures in the past month! This mountain gets a crazy amount of visitors.
After warming up, we decided to head back out on the mountain again and make our way over a few presidential mountains to the Madison hut. The hiking was extremely slow and difficult all day long. We were hoping on exposed rocks for probably 10 miles before reaching tree line. The weather was extremely nice and we were very lucky. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and although it was cold, it was bareable. Apparently, mount Washington only has about 60 cloud free beautiful sky days of the year where you can see the surrounding mountain valleys.
We went out of our way to hike over Mount Clay. I wanted to do a presidential traverse in which I would have to summit all the peaks named after the presidents in the mountain range. Yesterday I went out of my way to summit a few extra peaks of Eisenhower, Monroe, and Jackson. After mount Clay, we realized we were hiking so slow that we wouldn’t get to our destination until super late if we went out of our way to summit the other extra peaks. So we didn’t complete a presidential traverse. One look at Mount Jefferson, and my already aching thighs shuttered.The mountains were absolutely beautiful but the hiking was very tough. I was so happy when we finally made it to the Madison hut around 2pm. I ate my lunch and tried to warm up even though it was so cold I could see my breath inside the building. When we walked back outside to continue hiking, I realized it was warmer outside than in the building. The sun seemed to have finally started warming up the mountains a bit. The climb up mount Madison was very steep rock scrambling again. My hands were sore by the end of it because the rocks were so sharp. Besides mount Washington, Madison was my favorite mountain in the presidential range. The descent from Madison was the worst part of the whole day. It was straight down over tons of boulders again. I had to be very careful with my steps because some of the rocks were loose. My knees felt awful. I didn’t use my trekking poles all day because we were walking over so many boulder piles and my trekking poles would get stuck in the cracks.
The descent from Madison to tree line took a very long time. After we reached the trees there was soil on the rocks so the terrain felt better but the trail still went downhill. Finally the trail flattened out and the last three miles were very fast. We arrived at the Pinkham notch parking lot around 7pm. It was such a long day of hiking and so little miles were covered for the amount of time we spent hiking. At the parking lot, we met Bullet’s hiking friend named “Rebound”. The three of us stayed at a hotel in Gorham together that had a hot tub. I was so happy to rest my sore muscles and sleep in a soft bed after one of my hardest days on the trail. This is probably one of the top five hardest days I’ve had on the trail. However, it was also the most beautiful.