Ever since last summer, I’ve promised my son a trip to Mt. Washington. When we hiked to Monroe last summer, he wanted to go to Washington too, but after checking the time and the distance, it wasn’t an option for the day. It was also too cloudy to really enjoy the views from Washington, so I promised a hut trip for the following summer on a really nice day. He talked about this trip all winter and in celebration of the end of the school year, we did the trip this past weekend. He also had figured out that this is his tenth 4, 000 footer and he’s 10 years old, so he wanted it to be a special peak like Washington.
Friday morning we packed up all our stuff, checked the weather for the last time and headed up to Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail to go up to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut. We had hiked this trail before, so we already knew that the first part to Gem Pool would easy and the next section to the hut would be steep. At the bottom of the trail, it was sunny, but we could see as we ascended that there was a cloud and rime ice on the ridge that the hut is located and on Mt. Washington. Amazingly, as we hiked up, the cloud lifted and we had sunshine all the way to the hut. That’s not to say we didn’t have wind. We did have wind in the 30 to 45mph range. We knew in advance that we would be hiking up in windy conditions and were prepared for it. Only going to the hut meant that we wouldn’t be in the wind for very long.
We arrived at the hut in pretty good time; we left Marshfield Station at 1:30p and arrived at the hut at 4:15p. We had plenty of time to set up bunks and meet some new people before dinner. After dinner, we were treated to a lovely sunset – viewed from the hut’s dining room windows, as it was colder and windier outside than when we arrived.
After a good night’s sleep – my son tried out one of our new down sleeping bags and was plenty warm all night, even to the point of just sleeping in shorts and a t-shirt – we had a good breakfast and packed up. Once we were geared up in jackets, hats and gloves, we were ready to go. Because we had carefully watched the weather we knew to pack all this stuff in addition to fleeces, jackets and long pants! The wind was still blowing, but not as fast, and was supposed to die down quite a bit. We had beautiful sunshine and were promised 100 miles of visibility from the summit of Washington. This was the weather we had been praying for, and thankfully, got. We went up the Crawford Path to the summit of Washington, which is only 1.5 miles from the hut. We both felt that it really wasn’t that hard of a hike up to the summit. That might have had something to do with the pace (he always leads when we hike together ) or the fact that the views just kept getting better and better as we ascended and we didn’t really notice how hard the hike was.
There was still rime ice at the summit, which we could see from the hut. The sun was quickly working on melting that, so it wasn’t too hard to follow the cairns and find ice free rocks to walk on. We left at 7:50a and arrived at the summit around 9:15a.
It was still early, so there weren’t too many people up at the summit yet. The were only two Cog engines at the top and not many cars in the parking lots. We were able to enjoy the summit for quite a while, getting pictures, walking around, chatting with other hikers and eating some snacks before being ready to hike back down at about 11:00a.
While we were there, we also bought a t-shirt. I figured my son had hiked it, so he deserved the t-shirt. We happened to luck out and find a souvenir t-shirt that was *not* cotton! It is polyester and will be fine to wear for future hiking, which he intends to do.
We hiked back down to the hut, enjoying the views along the way.
We left our packs and hiked up to the summit of Monroe to eat lunch and to look at all the alpine flowers that were in bloom. We were fortunate to see all sorts of flowers in bloom, which we missed last summer. They’re amazing little flowers and are so tiny. Most of these flowers are less than 1″ across, most being less than 1/2″ across.
After a quick descent and stop at the hut to pick up our packs, we were back on our way down the Ammonoosuc Ravine and to the car. We had a wonderful time – the weather couldn’t have been better, my son did a great job hiking, and we saw some fantastic views. Not to mention that he can add another peak to his list!