After an awesome night at Lake of the Clouds Hut - they fed us a warm meal and gave us a bed (13 hikers) - we climbed 1500 feet to the summit of Washington, 6288 ft. It's a baby of a mountain when compared to Everest (29,000 ft) or K2 (28,000 ft) but still awe inspiring and gorgeous. This whole walk I have been waiting for the Whites knowing they would be epic and to get nerdy, Lord of the Rings like. They have lived up to my expectations and more. I wish all of you could be here with us, it's so damn awesome. I gotta be honest, the rest of the trail is gonna be tough after summiting the ranges in the Whites, nothing will be as epic as this and Maine has river fording, bogs and more up and down kick your ass mountains that does not include Katahdin.
Had we been forced to summit Washington yesterday it would have been in fog and rain but today is clear and blue skies. Still cold - oh man the beard came in handy today as did the pancakes we got from the hut. Lemme explain the huts real quick...
The AMC or Appalachian Mountain (Money) Club runs several huts or cabins in the Whites through a special permit from the National Forest. People pay 100 bucks per person to stay in pretty rustic huts. You are fed well and have running water to drink and wash your hands but they have commercial composting toilets that work really well, much better than the privys at shelters. As thru hikers we can do a "work for stay" which means maybe washing dishes or sweeping - easy easy chores all for a hot meal and a place to sleep indoors. It's damn cool. Actually while stopping at Mizpah hut yesterday for lunch a famous (famous to me) character actor came in with his wife: James Rebhorn. Susanna and I immediately recognized him, so that was cool. We left that hut for a 5 mile hike to Lake of the Clouds, the biggest and most popular hut since it's 1.5 mile hike up to Washington, and arrived just in time for dinner. Score!
So, this morning we got up nice and early, ate some oatmeal and pancakes with all the patrons and now are at the summit with a ton of tourists. There are a few ways of getting here: Hiking, driving and train-ing. It's tradition for thru hikers to moon the cog railroad, we did not. Yet.
Ok dear readers, I am gonna get some food and hot beverage and look around a bit more, take it all in 'cause it might be all down hill from here.
Oh, one more thing - there's a lodge up here that does not have beer. How the hell can they call themselves a lodge. Blasphemous.