Lake of the Clouds is the largest hut in the Whites, sleeping about 90, and was filled to capacity with reserved hikers and thru hikers sheltering from the elements. We shoehorned our way into our assigned bunkroom and hung our wet gear up best we could. It wasn't long after dinner that I found myself snug in my bunk and drifting off to sleep with my book and headlamp.
Morning found us rested and ready to make plans. The weather forecast was good - the clouds were expected to break and the winds die down. We decided that Traci and David would wait with Carmel at the hut for the weather to clear and then accompany her up to the summit of Mt. Washington, a mile and half or so away. Meanwhile, I'd hike 7 miles along Crawford Path, passing several more of the Presidential Range peaks: Mount Monroe, Mount Franklin, Mount Eisenhower, and Mount Pierce. Once I'd gotten the car, I'd drive 30 miles or so around the Whites and take the Mt. Washington Auto Road to the top.
|The trail south was still in the clouds as I started my hike.|
|Blue skies were breaking through by the time I skirted Mt. Eisehnower.|
|Ridgeline hiking on the Crawford Path|
|An expansive view to the north, with the Mount Washington Hotel in the valley.|
|Hiker self portrait during a shoe-drying break on the slopes of Mount Monroe. Mount Eisenhower is in the foreground, with Mount Washington in the distance. Shoes are Altra Lone Peak 3.0.|
After skirting Mt. Pierce, Crawford Path cut off from AT and descended towards Crawford Notch. A little history lesson --Crawford Path is the oldest continuously maintained footpath in the United States, blazed through the woods in 1819 by some enterprising locals who hoped to cash in on the tourist trade. A national historic register plaque and informative sign mark the southern terminus at Crawford Notch.
|Crawford Path plaque.|
|Posing at the trailhead - the end of the trail for me.|
|Carmel sets off for the summit. Lake of the Clouds in the background.|
|Carmel and Traci on the way up.|
|Looking back towards Lake of the Clouds Hut from Mt. Washington.|
|Looking south from the summit of Mt. Washington.|
|Mt. Washington weather observatory. One of many buildings on the summit.|
|The Mt. Washington Cog Railway.|
|High point of our hike, at over 6200 feet.|
|She made it!|
Next time -- Epilogue