A Man Named Washington

6/28/16     Osgood Campsite     10 miles

We escaped The Dungeon at Lakes of Clouds early this morning (the awful work-for-stay experience continued into the morning) and started climbing Washington. I have been super worried about this mountain even before we started hiking the AT. Although Bean-Dip kept on telling me how easy the climb was, I wanted to hurry up and over this wigged white guy. The weather report at Lakes was calling for storms today which made me even more speedy up the climb. I did stop a few times to glance back on my way up. I understand  how Lakes got its name. The hut slowly disappeared into what I could only describe as a “lake” of clouds. It was truly beautiful being up so high above.

Darwin and I made the summit first and had it all to ourselves. We looked around taking in our 360 view with not another soul in sight besides our fellow hikers immersing from the climb. The sun was out, the wind was none existent, and all was quiet not at all what I expected Mr. Washington to be. We all took pictures with the summit sign. Bean-Dip and Rambler were crazy impressed with the lack of people and shared stories of waiting in line for the summit before. We all felt a bit of entitlement as we had earned the summit today, we had didn’t take the train up or drive, we hiked. We practically skipped down into the observatory with thoughts of hot dogs and patches dancing in our head.

We had unfortunately summited so early this morning nothing was open. There were a few   security guards wandering around but no food and no gift shop. We decided we were going to hang out until something opened when we were approached by a guard who asked us what our plans for the day were. Darwin excitedly told them we were thru-hikers and were planning on camping at Osgood for the night doing only a small 10 mile day. Upon hearing this the guard immediately told us to leave. In our joy and rapture, we were a bit confused and informed the guard we had hot dogs in mind and a rummage of the gift shop. The guard  explained to us a bad storm was brewing and could arrive within the hour. The words golf ball sized hail and 60 mile an hour winds fell from his mouth and smacked me in the face. Then I remembered we are on Washington, the most dangerous weather in the U.S. and possibly world is made here and I’m on top! Get me down, get me down!

In the blink of an eye, Darwin smoothed talked his way into the gift shop and just paid the guard for his patch. Birdie, Bean-Dip and Fiddle looked at a map and decided to yellow blaze a bit, then hit a blue blaze into Gorham, NH. Rambler had already hauled ass out the door to start hiking. I looked at Darwin (who was concerned I couldn’t hike fast enough to beat the storm), looked at Bean-Dip, Birdie and Fiddle (still looking at the map), and looked at Rambler again in the distance, and took off after her. We were so worried about the on coming storm Darwin had actually considered yellow blazing along with the others for safety reasons. I had made made the final decision having  made it this far without skipping miles I sure wasn’t going to do it in the Presidential Range.

A little out from the summit Darwin and I looked back to see gray clouds heading our direction which made me put a little more stank in my step. I passed over the train tracks where numerous hikers before me had dropped their pants to the passengers onboard but never saw the train. I hobbled as fast as I could the next six miles glancing back here and there taken in by the beauty of the land but feeling very exposed. Being above tree line I could still see Mt. Washington in the distance slowly being over taken by grey clouds and all the trail I had already covered. Darwin and Rambler were ahead of me for most of the six miles to Madison Hut occasionally disappearing in the clouds. I felt like I was hiking in a world of my own.

Although the clouds were catching us we only caught a few spits of rain here and there. We made it to Madison Hut and took our chances by making it our lunch stop. After lunch and eating left overs provided by the hut, we headed back out for the last few miles of the day. This would be our last long section above tree line. Our worry of the bad weather had faded since leaving the big dead guy. The trail ahead of us dove into the trees and we felt safety was in our reach so our paces slowed. We finally descended into tree coverage just in time for the wind to start picking up and the first few claps of thunder could be heard in the distance. We hit the sign announcing our arrival to Osgood Campsite and said our goodbyes to Rambler who was continuing on into Gorham. She had to make more miles before leaving trail for a wedding in the next coming days.

Darwin and I set up camp in Osgood and enjoyed each others company. We haven’t been by ourselves since before the Whites and it was nice to have the whole campground by ourselves. I was completely amazed how well our journey thru the Presidential Range went. The high mileage we kept thru the Whites, the amazingly calm Mt. Washington and great weather thru it all was more than any hiker could ask for. I can fairly say if it rains everyday till we finish, I can’t really complain.

As we settled in for the evening I wondered how Bean-Dip, Birdie, and Fiddle were doing and of course Rambler. I had really enjoyed spending time with them all and although I was glad to have the time alone with Darwin,  I was a bit sad I may never see them again. The trail has a funny way of providing and taking away.

**That night the storm came thru waking Darwin and I up several times with huge claps of thunder and lighting that lit up the whole campground. We were never so thankful for the protection of the trees around us.

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