Day 113: Lakes of the Clouds to Carter Notch
Trip Start Mar 15, 2010
134Trip End Jul 23, 2010
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So today was probably the most epic day on the entire trail. You've been warned! (could get lengthy, just like my hike!)
Gadget woke me up at 5am and I had my oatmeal sitting outside. With work for stay you can eat the hut breakfast but I wanted to get out earlier. Left at 6:10 for the climb up the big one: Mt Washington! The climb takes around 45 min to go the 1200 ft to the summit at 6288 ft. The wind was whipping around pretty good so I ducked into the gift shop building though a downstairs door that was unlocked. Technically I think it was supposed to be locked because I surprised the volunteers when I walked up a back staircase into the main area while they were
having morning coffee.
Took some pictures of the summit sign and the views. At the weather station the wind was coming up over the ridge at about the most forceful wind I've ever felt. Maybe 50-60 mph? For those that don't know Mt Washington is billed as having the "worst weather in the world" because they recorded the world record 231 mph wind there. Yikes!
The trek down was really windy for a stretch and then it mellowed out off the summit cone. The walking along the presidential ridge (Clay, Jefferson, Adams) was not enjoyable. The trail is just a rocky boulder field with cairns to show an approximate route for hiking. Slow going
to say the least.
I arrived at Madison Hut around 10:30 and asked if they had any leftovers for thruhikers, and the cook was like, yeah! He showed me a whole bunch of baked goods I could go at. Mmm I stuffed myself! Also the crew was hanging out in the kitchen and I heard someone say
"have fun in cape Breton" so I had to investigate. Apparently this girl Dominique? Goes there every summer to work at St Anns. We chat about that for a bit and we'll even be there at the same time. Maybe we'll bump into each other at Glencoe haha. Small world. (for those that don't know my family is going on vacation up there in a few weeks!)
I then hit the trail up over Mt Madison, the last time I'll be over 5000 ft until Katahdin. The descent down is awful. Just totally trying mentally and physically. The rocky terrain is hard going and the sun is really strong and hot
When I finally got down into the valley I was spent. Just totally exhausted and the slow progress meant that my destination was in doubt. Did manage to catch Gadget though and we hiked together for a while. While with him we ran into a moose and two calves right on the trail. They were very accostomed to people being around and we took pictures etc. Then we started to think about hiking but we didn't know how to get around the things. I wasn't about to walk by for fear of getting trampled or whatever. Moose are BIG. (though this one was a bit small) We ended up having to detour down into the woods and bushwack around the spot. Cost me another 30 min.
Finally reached the visitor center at Pinkham Notch. Ate a really late second lunch and said goodbye to Gadget who was staying at the lodge there. I hit the trail at 5pm to climb up Wildcat Mtn. The trail is awful steep and the sun beating down on the cliff I was going up. Probably the closest I've been to heat exhaustion yet. Just had zero energy and sweating so that my entire body was dripping. I was trying to push the fluids but I didn't exactly have an unlimited water supply!! Also wildcat ridge has many peaks, 5 of them are named creatively:
From the last one and tallest you could see the hut down in the notch. What a relief! By the time I get down the mtn it's 8:30. I'm doin work for stay again but because I was so late, ill have to do it in the morning. Hopefully that doesn't ruin tomorrows schedule.
Alright well that's the news from up here. Besides being totally exhausted (21 miles) and still soakin in sweat, I'm in good cheer. Knees are stiff and feet sore but only my stomach is really causing problems. Just doesn't feel right. The feast and famine can't help either.