Tues, Sept 3
I wake at the lake of the clouds hut in a real bed after sleeping pretty well in bunk room #7. I’ll summit Washington today! I eat the mediocre hut breakfast of undercooked pancakes, sad eggs, and one piece of bacon (they didn’t get their helicopter food resupply because of the bad weather and so they’re running low on rations). I hike out in the clouds and fog with a team of other hikers – Survivor, Tadpole, Supervisor, No Collar, Lighthouse, and Turbo. We rockhop single-file to ensure that nobody gets lost off trail. It’s brisk and cold up to the summit with 10-20 mph winds. Arrive at the summit and relax for a bit. No views in the cloud today. I eat a donut and drink tea in the visitors center. Mountain Laurel, Balto, Blue Jay, and Daredevil show up from taking the shuttle up the auto road – they had to bail yesterday. I share tea with Jellybean who is freezing from having to wait outside in the cold for 30 minutes before the visitors center opened.
We all get our picture taken together at the summit. A slow descent for me in the mist on slick rocky trail. I get low enough and the wind dies down. Then the skies begin to part and glimpses of sun poke through cloud. Great views. I leapfrog with Tadpole and Survivor a bit. The trail grade lessens, the rocks dry out, and I make a beeline for Madison Hut. A bunch of us sit around eating mushroom lentil barley soup and snacks. As I get up to leave I run into Sherpa and dog Blue – they bailed from Washington’s summit yesterday via the cog railway.
Up short and steep, steep Madison then a descent on steep and rocky trail with good traction. It’s so beautiful and sunny. A steady down. Eventually into the woods, across a stream, leapfrog with Tadpole and Survivor and Sherpa and Blue. She’s the best trail dog. Finally at Pinkham Notch Visitors Center at dusk. I’d been planning to stealth somewhere here, but decided to go to Rattle River Shelter after all. A big group of us wait for Jay, from the hostel, to pick us all up in a 15-passenger van. I’m tired and hungry. I get in on a pizza order. At the hostel I check in, catch up with Tales and see Camelback Santa, wait in line for a shower, laundry into bin, inhale pizza, sleep.