I’m at the summit of Mt. Washington, elevation 6288 feet. The greatest wind velocity anywhere was recorded here sometime in the 1930’s. It is cloudy outside, or should I say, the mountain is in the clouds. There are no views. The forecast is not encouraging. The temperature is 52 with wind gusts. It is not a pleasant day for a hike. So after hiking the 1.3 miles from Lakes of the Clouds hut, Banzai, Pilgrim, Susquehanna Slim, and I are taking the remainder of the day off. We are waiting for a shuttle to Gorham. The weather has dictated our plans for the day.
After a restless night on the floor at the Lakes of the Clouds hut, I awoke to the sound of pots and pans clattering in the kitchen at 5:30. The space I chose to repose for the evening happened to be near the path to the restrooms. It seemed like each of the 90 bunkers must have gone twice because the traffic flowed steadily throughout the night. Since the thru hikers who were working for stay were relegated to a small portion of floor space in the dining hall, we had to arise by 6:00.
Last night Slim and I had been assigned the task of rebinding visitor log books that dated back to 1961. Sarah, the lead crew member, made the assignments. We were grateful since the others had kitchen chores. We both liked chatting with nine year old Avery, a lad who gravitated to thru hikers, asking an assortment of questions. The little fellow, who said he aspired to a thru hike himself someday, told us his trail name was Puke. It seems a couple of thru hikers had dubbed Avery after he had gotten sick at Madison Hut the previous night. Young Puke seemed to be really enjoying his hut to hut adventure.
This morning after a breakfast of cold leftover oatmeal, I volunteered to sweep bunk rooms. Others in the group of ten also straightened and cleaned the rooms. So after our work was completed, we didn’t find ourselves leaving for the trail until almost 10:00. With the late start and a less than desirable weather forecast, an adjustment to plans was necessary. In fact, when we emerged from the hut, visibility was at 75 feet. Due to the cloud cover we had zero views on the hike up Mt. Washington. Since I needed to watch every step over the various size rocks, it really didn’t matter. It took us about an hour to cover the 1.3 miles to the summit. I wore my rain jacket, gloves,and long hiking pants due to the conditions.
At the top we took some pics by the summit sign and then ate an early lunch. Still debating what to do, eventually we all agreed that starting a hike in these conditions was not smart. So Pilgrim, Slim, and I bought tickets for the van shuttle via the auto road. Patty, our driver, told us that since we were thru hikers and had left the summit due to weather, that our tickets would be good for a round trip. We were most appreciative given that the tickets were $30. Pilgrim and I got the $5 senior discount. Banzai decided to forgo the shuttle and try to hitch. Turns out he arrived back in Gorham ahead of the rest of us.
When Pilgrim, Slim, and I reached Pinkham Notch, we still needed to find a way to town. While we were trying to find a shuttle Steady walked up. Spirit had just dropped him off. She gladly drove us to Gorham. So for the rest of the afternoon I relaxed. Later in the evening Spirit joined us for dinner and drove us to drop some gear at a hostel where we will stay tomorrow night. With 332.9 miles remaining I’m getting anxious. I know I need to be patient, but after four months it’s hard. Tomorrow will be another grueling day with potential rain in the forecast. We will confront the challenging Mt. Madison as we continue north on the Appalachian Trail.