Free Spiritís ( Al's )

Appalachian Trail Journal

NH,VT & MASS- Part 4

Dates ........ Sunday Sept 10, 2000
Miles ........ 8.8 miles
From ........ Summit Mount Washington, NH (6288')
To ............. Crawford Notch hostel via Crawford Path
Weather ... Phenomenally clear, 60 deg F at base, 50's at summit, blue sky

Sunday September 10, 2000

Mt. Washington & Cog Railway, Lake of the Clouds and Mizpa Huts, Mounts Monroe (5385'), Franklin (5004'), Eisenhower (4761'), and Pierce (4310')

Up at 4 A.M., I drive from The Oceanside Inn at Hampton Beach NH to the Mt. Washington Cog Railroad Base Station. Finally, at 9:00 A.M., after wanting to for over 20 years, I ride the Cog Rail up to the summit of Mount Washington to start my adventure. What a unique, fantastic experience. The Cog Railroad is the only steam powered mountain climbing railroad in the world. The weather could not be better; it is a very rare, clear day. My spirits soar as I pose on the summit, about to start my trek. I visit the summit building briefly, send off a couple of postcards and grab a couple of hot dogs. Then I find the trail, get my bearings and start down. The summit is crawling with day hikers, tourists and people walking their dogs.

Soon the rocky trail separates me from the crowds and my first landmark appears - Lake of the Clouds and the AMC Hut. The trail is steep and rock covered, well above treeline, which I will not see again for many miles. In rare places where there are few rocks, the trail is a clear path worn 4 to 8 inches deep into the gravel and soil. Due to the lack of trees for blazing, most of the trail along mountain ridges and the higher elevations is marked with rock scree and cairns.

Mount Washington, NH. Rock cairns and scree mark the trail to Lake of the Clouds and the AMC Hut.

In much of NH and VT, especially near the more popular mountains and ridges, the AT and other hiking trails run together. The standard white blazes and or rock markings of the AT are maintained in these areas but the name may change, for example, to Crawford Path where they run together. Throughout NH and VT, care must be taken to stay on the right trail; trail guides, maps, and paying close attention to trail signs is essential.

Rock cairns and scree lead the way down off Mount Washington along Crawford Path, past Lake of the Clouds where I stop at the hut briefly for water and sign the register, over Mt Franklin (5004'), Mt. Eisenhower (4761') and Mt. Pierce (4310'). All are above treeline. I make another quick stop at Mizpah Hut, just below treeline. There Crawford Path breaks from the AT and leads to Crawford Notch and the hostel where I am booked for the night.

Being booked with reservations into the AMC hut and Hostel system is expensive and puts time constraints on the hike. AMC is not at all flexible on cancellations, rescheduling or no-shows except in extreme weather circumstances when the trails are closed. You make a reservation, you'd better be there . The huts are nice, though, the food good and the atmosphere rustic, warm, and charming. On my way down to the hostel I meet one of the hut personnel on the way up to Mizpah Hut with a heavy pack full of food and supplies. I don't envy that part of her job.

Pine forest at the base of Mount Washington, near Crawford Notch, NH

Tired but feeling ecstatic, I arrive at the Crawford Notch AMC Hostel, cook supper in their kitchen - my only "cooked" meal on this hike - shower, and chat with two college age brothers doing a section hike. The hostel is a series of little bunkhouses near a central kitchen and bathroom with shower. Some previous occupant had thoughtfully left behind a box of donuts and part of a jug of red wine. God bless him. After dessert I turn in for a very good nights sleep.


Crawford Notch AMC Hostel - Main Building



Daily Journal Entries

~ Journal Part 4~

9/20/00 9/22/00 9/23/00

Open Main Index In New Window

Hiking Partners Wanted

Spring/Fall hikes - 15 miles/day - Contact Al.
Last Updated 11/22/2000