Monday, September 10, 2001

day 121, Madison Springs Hut, NH

Start:  Mt. Jackson campsite
End:  Madison Springs Hut
Miles:  13.5 today, 1839.7 total

Wow.  Today was a day of extremes.  For one, I've found my new favorite part of the trail: the Whites.  The scenery, when visible, was amazing.  I spent all but 2 or 3 miles above treeline.  If the weather is decent, I could stay above treeline all day.  You can see forever.  Like, there will be people off in the distance that you won't pass for 10-15 minutes - but you can still see them!  And the mountains look so neat.  Orange and green and grey, rather than all green trees.  I took 3 or 4 pictures of just scenery.  Now that I think about it, I think I took (or had someone else take) 7 pictures today.

Stopped by Lakes of the Clouds Hut, nothing too special there.  Saw the "Dungeon" thru-hiker shelter in the basement.  Then I made my ascent of Mt. Washington.  The wind whipped by, clouds rocketed past.  I had a passer-by take my picture halfway up the mountain.  Some touristy museum and concession-stand stuff on top.

And then I hiked on... and proceeded to endure the worst weather I've had all trip.  Hard driving rain to a light misting mixed with heavy gusting winds to stillness.  And a cool temperature.  I was soaked and cold, but I just kept on walking.  Still above treeline the whole way to Madison Springs Hut, where I managed to snag my first (and last?) work-for-stay.

Post-hike note: That 5-ish-mile portion from the Mt. Washington summit to Madison Springs Hut was, in hindsight, probably the most dire moment I had on the trail.  Being above treeline with nowhere to hide from the rain and wind, and with the temperature being cool, my guess is that hypothermia would have readily set in were I forced to stop walking.  Numerous opportunities to slip on the wet rocks and break something, and being alone with no one else out walking in that weather and often zero visibility, it could have been a pretty bad situation.  Looking back, I feel pretty lucky that I made it to the hut that night relatively ok and that they had space for me to stay.  I would've done anything to avoid having to camp out in that weather.

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