Molar Man made his debut as the new fourth member of the Rawhide gang in the Mt. Washington to Madison Spring Hut episode today. On a beautiful, sunny 42 degree morning, visibility at the summit was listed at 120 miles. A worker said there are only about six days a year with this nice a forecast. Our decision to forgo this 13.5 mile stretch until today and tomorrow turned out to be an outstanding one. The summit we experienced today compared in no way with the Mt. Washington of last Saturday when visibility was listed at 75 feet. After a day in the clouds then, we enjoyed panoramic views throughout the day today. The awe inspiring vistas made me appreciate God’s creation to its fullest. Again I don’t think there are suitable adjectives to describe the enormity of the landscape.
My day began with breakfast at McDonalds in Gorham with Molar Man, Sweet Tooth, Susquehanna Slim, and Pilgrim. After the meal we drove to the auto road at the base of Mt. Washington. At 9:00 our van driver Dexter drove us to the summit. We started the descent northward on the AT a little before ten. Almost immediately Molar Man and Slim put distance between themselves and Pilgrim and me. I hiked deliberately from the outset, paying close attention to each footfall. The trail consisted of moderate size boulders slanted at various angles. The downhill always presents a greater challenge for me which is why my pace was slow all day.
As we hiked off the summit of Mt. Washington, the cog railroad ran parallel to the trail. All the remaining mountains in the Presidential Range loomed in the distance. I admired with respect and reverence the prodigious formations. Over the course of the 5.7 mile day I would hike near the summit of Mt. Clay, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Adams. The rocky terrain made the miles go slowly, but that mattered little with the scenery I was experiencing. Every few minutes I would just stop and admire. I also talked with a few southbound thru hikers. Taxi had been at the Carter North Hut with us two nights ago.
About a mile before reaching the Madison Spring Hut, I met day hiker Emerald from Vermont. A retired teacher, he told me that he was working on completing something called “the grid.” He hopes to climb each of the 48 4000 foot mountains in each month. I told him I’m motivating myself these days with the motto, “Every step I take is a step I will never have to take again.” I can’t imagine climbing each of these New Hampshire mountains in every month. The thought fatigues my mind even more than it already is. I really appreciated Emerald’s company over about half a mile.
Just past the intersection with the Airline Trail, I reached a peak where I could see the Madison Spring Hut in a valley. When I arrived all my buddies were already there. We had the option of work for stay or to pay $10 for leftover food and a space to sleep on the floor. We opted to pay. Still we have to wait until 7:45 to eat. Hey, it’s a roof and much nicer than a shelter. This is my fourth hut. I’ve been a paying guest twice and eaten after the guests twice. The main difference is the temperature of the food. That’s the only downside. Our food will be cold.
So as I type this the guests are being served. It smells good. My buddies and I have been relegated to a table in the corner with no food. It beats standing outside in the cold. More importantly, I’m among good company. Another thru hiker, Bird, who is from Germany, has joined us at our table. Stretch and Barking Spider also just arrived as did Restless Cowboy that I last saw in CT. This is a different Barking Spider from the one I met in the Shenandoah’s. As I wait to eat I’m chatting with Clark, a young man with an interest in writing. At least I have a view of the mountain ranges in the distance. It’s all good. Tomorrow I’ll hike back to Pinkham Notch, leaving only 16.5 miles to Maine on the Appalachian Trail.