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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

5 Favorite Travel Days in 2013, A Night at AMC’s Lakes of the Clouds Hut, New Hampshire

The conditions weren’t ideal when my wife, Lisa, and I decided to backpack hut-to-hut in the White Mountains in late June. The black flies were still biting and a daily dose of rain had slickened the trails, making that unforgiving White Mountain granite that much more treacherous. By the time we reached the third of the AMC huts, Mizpah Springs, after an incredibly humid day where I really felt my age, I was spent. I had more than enough material to write my story on hut-to-hut hiking in the Whites for The Washington Post and I just wanted to head back to civilization. Conditions needed to be ideal the next morning to walk the historic Crawford Path through the Presidential Range. Once you venture beyond Mizpah Springs Hut to Mount Pierce, you’re above treeline on a ridge walk, entirely exposed to the weather since there’s really nowhere to hide. 

 
Socked in to a large cloud with the threat of lightening the next morning, it was time to head down. Or was it? At a juncture just below the peak of Pierce, we had to make a decision—up or down. That’s when we ran into a couple we befriended the night before, on vacation from Beijing, happy to breathe in the fresh alpine air. “C’mon, I have sardines,” Micah said. The next thing you know we’re atop the ridge, the layers of mist disrobing, and we were treated to views of the bald knob atop Mount Eisenhower. It was like walking on a lunar landscape, bordered by velvety green sedge and moss, often staring in awe at alpine wildflowers in bloom like bog laurel, white bunchberry, and purple fireweed. 
 
Then we spotted the Lakes of the Clouds hut, our lodging for the night, and its lofty perch atop a 5200-foot ridge with stunning vistas of Mount Washington Hotel below and the Cog Railroad ambling slowly up to the Mount Washington summit. We spent the twilight hours looking at the glorious view and then peering at the twinkling stars above (no light pollution here). The next morning, after a filling breakfast, we climbed on hardscrabble rock the last 1.4 miles to the summit of Mount Washington, New England’s tallest peak. The winds subsided, the sun peeked through the clouds, and we were rewarded with wondrous views of Mounts Jefferson, Adams, and Madison. Lisa and I were elated that we made the decision to continue onward. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/08/14 at 11:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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