We left camp at 5h45 and as we put our packs on the rain started. The first kilometer or so was challenging climbing but after that the terrain became more reasonable. Dont get me wrong, it wasnt easy, as the trail went up. Remember we were heading up to Mt Washington via Mt Pierce (another 4000 er) so we were going UP. But once we were above the treeline the terrain was a rocky uphill path. What made it really hard going was the rain and wind, I was so cold.
We stopped at Into the Clouds hut and this is where the first thing you wont believe happened. Breakfast was over and we could see there were loads of left over egg. We know the staff need to get rid of left over food (remember you cannot get a vehicle up to the huts to get rid of rubbish, it needs to be carried out). Trevor suggested I ask if we could buy some leftover eggs. When I asked the young curly blonde hair blue eyed boy if we could buy some eggs he said we are welcome to have as much as we want. By then it was ice cold but it was protein, so we bought (to be honourable) some of their $2 a piece baked goods and had lemon pound cake with cold scrambled egg.
We left and carried on the climb to Mt Washington. The rain has stopped and I used the hut stop to add some layers of clothing and gloves, so I felt much better (the protein possibly helped as well). But wow, the wind…… I now see that the terrain above treeline is better (rocky but not boulder scrambling) but you are very exposed to the elements, extreme wind being the worst. And the wind was about 30mph….it can push you around!
Unfortunately we had absolute no view approaching Mt Washington, or while we were at the summit. We were 50m from the building before could see it. But 30mins after we left the weather started clearing, we looked back and saw the mountain. And all the way into the valley. There is a cafeteria at the top and a funicular ferrying people up and down ($60 per person!)
We had a 9km walk down (slow walking, you have to concentrate on every step when you walked to not roll your ankle):
You are not allowed to camp above the treeline and where we can get to today was still above the treeline – but we saw there is a camp site 1mile down (off trail) from the next hut (Madison) which we were targeting. But when we got to the hut we realised that the one mile we had to walk to camp is very steeply downhill. Tomorrow morning we would have to hike the very steep uphill mile just to get back onto the trail. And we have a date with Iceman so we want to start the day early – not wasting time on non-trail miles.
We tried our luck. At Into the Clouds one can pay $10 and sleep on the floor in the dining room. I asked the staff at Madison if we could pay to sleep on the floor (we prefer our tent but desperate time, desperate measures!) – Alex (the young woman I spoke to) said no, but they do need Work For Stay…. (Have I explained Work For Stay? They use thru-hikers to clean up after dinner and breakfast and in exchange they get a meal and a spot on the floor). We dont want to leave late but we asked two of the other WFS hikers if we could do the evening shift and they do the morning shift and they were happy with it.
So, can you believe it: Trevor and I have done WFS. We thought we were going to be washing dishes of 56 guests, 8 staff members and 6 thru-hikers. But that wasn’t our chores. Firstly we had to (after dinner) wipe the tables and sweep the floor – that was quite easy. Then we had dinner (same dinner the guests had) – real food, not too hot (temperature) but very tasty. And after that I had to clean and re-organised their fridge and Trevor had to pull out all the draws and wipe them. I can say one thing: their kitchen wouldn’t pass the Gordon Ramsey test…..
Still – another experience and I now know I can put Trevor to work at home 😀😀😀