Who let the dirty hikers in??
Right now, we are sitting in the warm and cozy Lakes of the Clouds Hut, which sits above tree line just before Mt. Washington. The huts, right on the trail and run by the AMC (appalachian mountain club) offer bunks and meals....for about $100. Obviously thru hikers dont really stay at the huts because they cant afford them, but the huts usually let a couple stay each night if they work for an hour or so...and by "stay," i mean sleep on the dining hall floor and eat leftovers after the paying customers are done. Not super hiker friendly on paper, but we've actually had pretty good experiences with the staffs ("croos") and have gotten a lot of delicious leftovers. But still the same, we all joke about being second class citizens at the huts. Its a weird change from the (free) shelters and campsites elsewhere on the trail...(there are shelters and campsites out here too....for $8...or we "stealth camp")
But tonight, we are equals! We made our way from Mizpah Hut on the Presidential range across Mt Pierce, Mt Eisenhower, Mt Franklin, and Mt. Monroe, mostly all in fog..we only had about a mile to go to get to Lakes of the Clouds when it starts to thunder. We are already walking, literally, in a cloud, and its thundering. On top of a mountain, above the treeline, on a path that follows the ridgeline. Not such a good place to be...At this point, we book it. We dont even know if we'll be able to stay at the hut or what the situation would be, but at least we'd have shelter for a bit. We cross the mountain and start wondering how close we are when all of a sudden a building appears through the fog, 15 ft from us. Yeesssssssss.
But, it's dinner time, we are gross, we are wet. The door opens to the dining hall, where everyone is already sitting down. We go to the crew and they basically point to a table and tell us to squeeze in.
Haaaaa...turns out luck is on our side! We squeeze in to a table of NINE other thru hikers - the croo is a "fill-in" croo (ie doesnt care about rules? Nicer?) And they've let 13 of us in, AND let us eat with everyone else, AND give us a free bunk room to sleep in. All of the normal croos are off at a group function for the day.
Now we're all sitting around journaling, probably all writing the same thing about how awesome today (and this croo) are.
(Also, the weather outside is now terrible...ahhh so glad we are inside).
Ps...we are 99.999% sure that James Rebhorn (character actor in about a billion movies...look him up, you got google) checked into Mizpah hut when we were there for lunch. Ha!