It was a perfect day. No, really! We chatted with the croo at Lakes of the Clouds and they said that they had rarely seen such an absolutely perfect weather day for Mt. Washington!
If only we can get some of that kind of weather in September.
For our work hooky training day, Neil needed Mts. Monroe and Washington for his 48 so we decided to tackle the classic Ammonoosuc Trail up Jewell Trail down loop, a very fine hike. Indeed one of the most scenic and varied hikes in the White Mountains.
Now, by perfect day, here’s what I mean; perfectly blue sky with beautiful wisps of undercast in the valleys, a slight breeze to keep us cool and keep the bugs at bay, a recent two day surge of rain which left the trails dry enough but the waterfalls lush and running high and a mid-week hike to keep the tourists and flip-floppers to a minimum. It literally all came together!
We headed up the Ammonoosuc 7:30 a.m. sharp under clearing skies and temps in the high 50s and it only got better as we ascended. We reached Gem Pool (2.1 miles) in an hour, a great time for us and began the hard work of climbing up to Lakes of the Clouds Hut. But time flew by, mostly because the series of falls along the trails were spectacular, in some places pouring down in splits of three and four. Just stunning!
Made the hut in under three hours and were standing on Mt. Monroe in 3.5, number 42 for Neil!
After a quick break back at the hut where we were scolded for sunning ourselves on the alpine grass (our bad!) the march up to Washington began. By then, there was a long line of hikers rolling upward, but we made great time and found ourselves at the summit by 12:30. There were far more people up there than we had expected but the weather was such that lots more people than us had snuck out of work to enjoy this beautiful day.
Once at the top, we got in line for the summit! Yup, there was a line of about 30 people queued up to get their picture at the summit sign. Oh well! We got into a pleasant conversation with a couple on a vacation trip with their Hasidic Jewish congregation from New Jersey. They were on a bus tour of New Hampshire for ten days, staying in Lincoln. They could not have picked a better day to come up.
After a bowl of chili and the guilty pleasure of a Coke at the cafeteria we were off. It didn’t take much convincing to get Neil to tag Mt. Clay as well. It doesn’t count as an official 4,000 footer, but it’s a sadly overlooked summit. We were joined on the climb by a dozen boys of the New Jersey congregation who were giddily making their way over to Mt. Jefferson and back before their bus left at 6 p.m. We shared the summit with them for 10 minutes as they peppered us with questions about hiking and winter climbing and just who Clay was and how many mountains there are. It was nice.
But alas, the best days must come to and end, so we scrambled down off Clay to the junction with the Jewell Trail and two and a half hours later were back at the car.
I felt pretty strong, though I’m going to have to attend to a couple hot spots on my feet. Maybe it’s time for new liners before September.
Total Summits: Monroe / Washington / Clay
Total Miles: About 9.5
Total Time, including breaks and rest: 10 hours