The Wild and Wonderful Whites… of New Hampshire
It started with a storm
It was not unexpected. In fact, I watched it roll across the vast summits of the White Mountains’ Presidential Range for well over an hour. There was a stark line to the hazy wall of rain, intermingled with the regular clouds I was looking down on from such high elevation. Actually, it was the highest elevation I have slept at since I started the trail. Watching the impending rain barrel toward my position, I was not convinced my decision was a solid one. I wanted to see a great sunset. And the stars. And a sunrise. There was some trepidation about the big bad Whites, and I wanted a spectacular view to mark my first night in them.
Mount Hight was perfect
Just after everyone arrived and got their tents up, we were hit. Hiding in my tent, the entire ceiling would flash blue periodically from the lightning directly above. The rain was loud, but soon I heard Pale Ale shriek and next thing I know, I see balls of hail gathering outside my tent. The winds ripped and roared, and the thunder was deafening. In the safety of my tent, it was honestly beautiful. The moment that the rain/hail stopped I jumped out of my tent with Pale Ale and Cookies and we rushed to the summit just in time to watch the storm continue on the other side of the mountain.
We could look left, and see clear skies and the first hints of a colorful sunset. To our right, was a dark, black, stormy mess. Ahead? A perfect rainbow. The danger was over, and this view… This view made every rough moment of my trek thus far worth it. A hundred times over. The clouds were too thick to really see much of the sunset, but the six of us sat atop that mountain, feeling bold, and jeered at the clouds to break just long enough for a glimpse. We got about 45 seconds, and it was worth it. The stars were breathtaking later that night, and the sunrise perfect. It all wrapped together nicely.
The trifecta of summit experiences to kick off the Whites
The next day was grueling, up and down the Wildcat range and running from the storms. We had to work for it, but the very next day was magical. Climbing SOBO up Madison, we spent 12 miles above treeline, totally exposed on the ridge of the mountains. I heard that Mount Washington only gets clear days about 40 days out of the year. I got to experience clear weather two days in a row. Climbing the actual summit of Mount Washington was an experience itself. The summit was full of muggles. I could not bring myself to stand in a line to take a summit picture, but here is my condescending selfie of all the muggles in line.
I don’t think they wanted me to either, because I was definitely the smelliest person on the mountain. After the summit, I hiked down with some new friends Mange and The Wizard. (Shout-out to Mange’s Mom!)
We all got accepted as a work for stay at Lake of the Clouds Hut. Another beautiful sunset. Hiking out the next morning into the early morning above treeline was serene. It felt like walking into my favorite fantasy novels. Then, we got to experience the absolute BEST trail magic. I met a man in Millinocket named Pterodactyl before I had even hiked a mile. When we made our long descent yesterday and collapsed by the river to rest, guess who pulls up on the side of the road? You guessed it. He took all six of us back to his condo and slept on the MOST comfortable beds we will probably get to experience on this entire trail. Thanks, Pterodactyl!
The Whites are beautiful, magical, and larger than life
I could easily spend a month just tromping through these mountains, but the trail is calling. Just a few more miles until I leave the Whites behind me. On to Vermont!
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