Washington White Out

Day 35

We woke up early at Madison Spring Hut and enjoyed some fresh brewed coffee and the amazing vista. Breakfast was warm and plentiful.

In true White Mountain fashion, yesterday’s early weather report called for a perfect day on Washington today but this morning it says limited visibility, colder temps and those massive wind gusts again.
On a clear day, the views across the presidential traverse can take your breath away.  The uphill rock scrambles can do that too.  Today, that honor went to the wind and cold temperature.  The temperature was in the 40s, wind gusts up to 70mph with wind chill 20-25 degrees. The winds at the summit can literally knock you over if you aren’t careful where you step.  Our view from the summit is what would be considered a normal day.  Mount Washington is in a cloud about 300 days of the year.  Visibility was 1/16th of a mile.
Maybe it was the big dinner last night or full breakfast this morning but we crushed it to the summit of Mount Washington. Against the blowing gusts, we navigated the rocky terrain and multiple trail junctions. The Whites can be easy to take a wrong trail if you aren’t paying attention as there are so many. The visibility was so low that we were a loud rumbling about 30 feet next to us and realized it was the cog rail road. It was so misty we couldn’t even see the massive train next to us.
The observation center at the top of Mt. Washington was a welcome haven for us. It was more crowded than we would have thought. We assumed not many people would want to take the cog rail road up if they couldn’t get a view.  But this is the white mountains on a weekend always expect a crowd.
We spent over an hour at the summit, warming up and eating lots of food.  We eventually got the courage to brave the elements again and hike on.  We moved well in the less than ideal conditions and cruised into Lakes of the Cloud Hut to warm up again.  The hut was very crowded with weekend guests and we didn’t stay long. The next 5 miles continued above the treeline in the elements but thankfully were very flat.  We remained in the damp fog and deafening wind for hours but every now and then would see glimpses of sunshine in the valley.  At times would shine right on the Mount Washington Hotel and reveal the red roof.  We grit our teeth and pushed, pushed, pushed. All we could think about was getting warm.
At Mizphah Hut, we found a flatish spot in the overcrowded campsite.  We were surprised again about the crowd in the bad weather but again, this is the white mountains on a weekend.
The fog never lifted but we are thankful the heavy winds didn’t impact us at the elevation we were at.  The early weather report says the next two days should be very good but then again, this is the Whites. We threw up our tent in record time and opted to skip dinner as we had eaten well for breakfast and lunch and honestly we just didn’t have the energy. We crawled in our sleeping bags early to warm up and rest our sore feet. We are happy that Mount Washington is behind us and we survived the day.

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