Lakes of the Clouds Overnight

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Rhody Seth

Active member
Dec 18, 2015
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Charlestown, RI
The White Mountain weekend with my daughter continued as she requested to hike Mt. Washington and had wanted to stay at a new hut. So I booked us a Saturday night stay at Lakes of the Clouds. It would be busy but Ezri has been disinterested in hiking the last few years so I was up for whatever would get her back into the mountains.

We stayed at Sawyer Pond the previous night, packed up as early as we could and got back to the car around 7:45 AM. I wasn't sure we'd get a spot at the Ammo Trailhead and sure enough by the time we arrived at 8:30 people were parking on the street. Not particularly keen about leaving the car overnight there, I opted to just suck it up and pay to park at the Cog.

The hike up Ammo was mostly quiet with the occasional large group passing us. I had hiked it previously in the winter but it was fun to experience it in a different season. Such a great trail with so much water running alongside it almost the entire way. By the time we reached the alpine zone Ezri was pretty tired and getting sick of my "almost there" asides.

We reached the hut at midday and it was a madhouse. Tons of dayhikers and some overnights hanging about. To be expected but it had been awhile since I hung around with such large groups of hikers. I guess I've gotten used to doing things early and solo. We relaxed at the hut for an hour or so and then we made the short trip up Mt. Monroe. #16 for Ezri and an underrated peak in my opinion. Strangely there was one specific spot on the summit that seemed to have a swarm of bugs but they didn't bother me otherwise. A hiker mentioned that the bike race was happening on the auto road and they had waited about 30 minutes to get their picture with the Mt. Washington summit sign which made me glad we were waiting until the following day to ascend.

We went back to the hut and Ezri took an afternoon nap while I relaxed on the rocks and filmed a cool timelapse of the clouds going over Washington. A lot of people would come and go to swim in the lake - is that allowed? I overheard a croo member later that night seemed to acknowledge that it was fine but it feels like the kind of thing that would be off-limits. At any rate, with so many people hanging about the hut I noticed a fair amount of disregard for avoiding the alpine vegetation which was disappointing. The evening was a bit of a mixed back as a group of 15 dudes was staying there and they had lugged up many bags of wine. Dinner was very loud and Ezri was hangry and miserable until she began eating the bread. Thankfully we sat next to a next mother/daughter and engaged them in conversation. A beautiful sunset rounded out the day and luckily the bros in our bunkroom were among the mildest of that crew.

I always enjoy mornings at the hut which are usually quiet and relaxing. I enjoyed some coffee on the rocks then packed up. We had a filling breakfast including coffee cake and were on the trail by 7:45 AM. The hike up Crawford Path was very peaceful - especially in contrast to the steady stream of loud folks I watched come down from there yesterday afternoon. We reached the summit around 8:45 AM and had time to enjoy the views before the cafeteria opened. Peak #17 for Ez. We spent about an hour up there, checking out the museum and gift shop before heading out down the Gulfside trail. Ezri enjoyed waiingr as the cogs went by and the views in the Great Gulf were fantastic.

By the time we reached the Jewell Trail she was pretty tired with sore feet. Unfortunately it was another 3.5 miles down including lots of big rocks to deal with early on. It was my first time on the Jewell Trail and it's a beautiful trail but yeah those rocks near the top are rough on tired feet. Our pace slowed down considerably over these last few miles but we took our time and eventually made it back to the Cog. There was actually a pretty tough river crossing right next to the station - did there used to be a bridge there? It was a little tricky getting her across.

Back at the car around 3:15 or so and happy to be finished. I suggested soaking our feet in cold river water but Ezri was checked out and ready to doze in the car. We made our way to our hotel (Shamrock Motel in Thornton - a favorite of ours) and then rallied for burgers, gelato and mini-golf in Lincoln. Two beautiful days above treeline and now Ezri is excited about taking on Mt. Jefferson which is the last of the Presidentials that she needs. Hopefully this fall!