September 2: mile 1856: The Lake of the Clouds Hut

We woke up early to fantastic weather for today but hurricane Harvey coming in Saturday night. We took the long shuttle from the hostel in Franconia Notch around the mountain to Crawford Notch to resume our hike.  Of course, coming out of a gap or Notch that gives us a huge ascent, in this case, Mount Webster.  

Frodo, Gimlie, and Samwise peeled off our group and zeroed another day leaving our crew as myself, Dancing Bear, Mona, Wolfdog, Dove, Gandalf, and Stick.  We were tearing into Webster by 9:00 after a 45 min shuttle ride.  

The mountain ascends 3000 feet in four miles pretty much straight up.  It is part of the run up to Washington besides Jackson and Pierce.  The hiking was pretty strenuous and included some straight up rock climbing with trekking poles put away.  After four hours and numerous spectacular overlooks, we finally reached the summit.  After the the summit there was an up and down traverse for two miles before we topped Mount Jackson at over 4000 feet.  After another couple mile traverse, we topped Mount Pierce at just over 5000 feet.  In all cases the hiking was hard but not ridiculously so.  The weather was sunny and 70s– perfect.  Because of the holiday weekend, there there were tons of day hikers getting in the way.  We stopped at the first Hut to eat lunch and then hiked hard all day to make the Hut at Lake of the Clouds by 5:00.  We needed to get there early to secure a work for stay spot.  They let thru hikers stay at the Hut if they do dishes and other chores.  But there are usually limited spots.  We got there late at 630, but were still granted work for stay spots– whew.  Mona, Dove, and Wolfhdog were already there and had spots too.  Gandalf had gotten in at 3:00 and hiked on trying to the Madison Hut seven miles on– a very ambitious plan.

Dancing Bear and I were assigned evening duties after dinner.  That means that we also get to eat some of the cold leftovers.  As the hours wore on, more and more hikers kept arrivin.  They weren’t granted work for stay but were allowed to sleep on the floor for $15.  By dinner time there were no less than 30 thru hikers hanging around.   After dinner five of us evening work stay were led into the kitchen and allowed to feast on the cold left overs.  We were starving and gobbled the food over stainless counters like refugees.  When we were done we were led to a number of charred cookie sheets and told to scrape the carbin off them with steel wool and comit.  

At 930 thirty thru hikers deployed sleeping systems and huddled together on the floor.  It was a long and sleepless night.  Meanwhile, hurricane Harvey is bearing down outside.  Supposedly there is a window in the morning to summit Washington and traverse the exposed ridge line to the Madison Hut before more extreme weather in the afternoon.  It is s rocky and difficult traverse all at altitudes above 5000 feet and all above the tree line.  We hope to give it a shot.  Happy Trails.

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