From Crawford Notch to Lake of the Clouds.
The earliest shuttle to the trail had us back hiking at 9am. The first section was a 2700′ climb up Mt Webster (3810′) with some good views back along Crawford Notch along the way.
Carina was really struggling, exhausted generally and hampered by an old knee injury that wasn’t happy to be hiking every day. We even considered bailing. She struggled through the first few hours but actually improved as the day wore on.
After 5 miles we had to go over Mt Jackson (4051′) which involved 0.2 miles of scrambling up rocky slopes and large boulders, grabbing tree roots and making use of any small crack or extrusion for grip. Trekking poles were put away as both hands were required. It was just as difficult on the way down. We were very glad it was dry today, the wind was strong when exposed above tree line and small patches of sun mid-morning now would become more fulsome later.
The free leftovers from the guest dinner the previous night was chicken in a garlic and herb butter which teamed up perfectly with a couple of tortillas I had left. There was even some pineapple chunks and a chocolate pudding to finish. Perfect.
We left at 2:30pm and climbed a solid 500′ up to the summit of Mt Pierce (4310′) and then a dip down to just over 4000′ signalled the start of the long climb up Mount Washington which we would complete tomorrow. From here we got our first good look at Washington, usually cloaked in cloud but now visible from afar.
The whole hut is bunkroom only and sleeps 96 guests plus half a dozen young “croo” staff. Carina and I were in a bunkroom that sleeps 16. I was on the top, fourth, bunk and Carina was below me. We were paying for a much shorter and safer day tomorrow rather than luxury sleeping accommodation. Dinner was served at 6pm so we timed that well. Pretty average corn chowder and marinated steak tips with cous cous and a cake for dessert.
The highlight of the evening – and whole stay – was a spectacular sunset viewed from 5000′ that lasted for 45 minutes and filled the sky with different patterns and various hues of red and orange. A cellphone camera doesn’t begin to capture it.