Treat yo self

Day 34
The weather never really hit as hard as anticipated.  About 6pm it started to rain on and off with gusts of high winds throughout the night but nothing severe.  We slept in a little later than usual, packed up quickly, and headed towards Joe Dodge Lodge where planned to make breakfast.  We arrived shortly after 8:30AM and to our great surprise were able to get a free breakfast! Somehow we hit the magical 15-20 minute window where the guests and staff had finished eating and they hadn’t thrown the leftovers out. We inquired about the price of coffee and breakfast items that were out with the lady at the front desk. She immediately asked “thru-hikers?” (likely the smell gave us away), she checked and got the nod, then she said two of the most amazing words…”help yourselves”.
We did help ourselves to scrambled eggs with cheese and broccoli, sausage, bacon and home fries.  Hayley also created a crazy sweet everything bagel: blueberry bagel, cream cheese, and mixed granola on top with a sprinkle of brown sugar. We had cereal, apple, oranges and all the coffee we could drink. Didn’t matter if the food had been out for hours, it was heavenly. In this situation we had to practice moderation (thru-hiker moderation that is), eat as much as you can but don’t eat too much that you’ll be upchucking during the big ascent up the mountain (that hip belt sure feels tight on your stomach).
Just as we tucked into our plates, they started to clear up the food. Such amazing timing and so unexpected. Even though we were disappointed we didn’t camp on Wildcat, we feel like Eric’s mom was looking out for us.  She always wanted to ensure everyone was well fed and safe.
We spent the next few minutes drying out some gear and started our climb up into the Presidentials.  Next stop Madison Spring Hut but first Mt. Madison summit.
Note: AMC Huts (ie. Carter Notch Hut, Madison Spring Hut) are large enclosed huts that sleep 36-90 people. A staff (also known as “the croo”) facilities (usually college kids), and an overnight stay includes a bunk in a bunk room, sink with running water, compostable toilet, potable water and family style dinner and breakfast. Prices can be as high $170 per guest to stay. These huts are usually placed in harder to reach places in the Whites and some of these huts have been standing for over 50 years (although many have been renovated). Ok back to the action…
The climb up to Madison was steady.  Once above treeline it was almost like someone turned on the A/C, such a nice cool temperature, how nice! But  then the winds started picking up and that nice cool temp suddenly wasn’t so nice in our forever damp from sweat clothes.  The Presidential Traverse is 12 miles of trail above treeline.  The path is mostly boulders and loose rocks piled on each other.  The game we play is what rock will move.  Success is a firm foothold.  Failure is a rolled ankle. For all you Harry Potter fans out there, the trick stair when walking through the castle at Hogwarts, your foot is on a firm surface then suddenly not.
We won and lost throughout today’s portion.  The next challenge to the game is guessing when in the big wind burst would occur.  These gusts are powerful enough to knock us off balance.  Even more fun when stepping on a loose rock. You would think these heavy bags would help ground us against the wind…nope they just make it even more awkward.
Finally we reached the summit and made the descent down to Madison Spring Hut. This is Hayley’s first experience staying at a hut. We were happy to get in from the wind and impressed by the newly renovated but. We got two cool bunks up top in the bunk room and made ourselves at home. Hayley is starting to like this “platinum blazing”. Staying in these huts is very expensive and not many thru- hikers will do this.  In addition warm, dry beds, we were excited for the massive family style meal.
We enjoyed our night at Madison Spring Hut. Dinner was excellent and completely vegetarian which was perfect for us since our vegetables are few and far between on the trail. We easy cleaned the large plates of food on the table. Our fellow SOBOer Just Jeremy was convinced to reserve a bunk at the hut when he came in from the windy summit of Madison and could smell dinner in the making. We spent most of dinner talking with him and answering questions about thru-hiking from other guests. Afterwards we played cribbage and Eric happily skunked Hayley in revenge for the previous game in Monson where she skunked him. We all went out and watched the sunset and couldn’t believe our luck for such a clear beautiful night.

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