The morning came quickly and I was a good little hiker and made coffee and ate breakfast in the cook area.
If the weather was supposed to move in about 11, I wanted to give myself enough time to get up and to the hut by then. As I mentioned before, most of the next few days I’ll stay above treeline and there are few to no places to hide from a storm.
The climb was steep and sweaty through the trees, but when I popped out I could see everything: where I had to go, the notch where Madison Springs Hut was where I would be staying tonight, and even Mt Washington, where I would be tomorrow. The clouds were amassing, but I had time.
What fun! The boulders that so many nobos complained about descending were a lot of fun to climb, and they were all tucked into patches of blueberries. Occasionally I would lean over to pop a ripe one in my mouth. I love this type of hiking!!! (Let’s add a few more for good measure!!!!)
I am so excited to be up here in good weather. Some would say this is the pinnacle of the AT, some would say this is a frustratingly hard part of the AT; because I’m not trying to push miles I say it’s an awe-inspiring privilege to hike through the Whites. I love to hike uphill, I have my hiking legs now, and I keep thinking about Smog slumbering somewhere below in the mountains. This place could just be magical.
I take my time on the hike to Mt Madison, enjoying the day and the hike. After a few long breaks I can see the clouds building over Mt Washington and decide its time to head in. Each of the huts welcomes any hikers who pass by to stop, hang out, buy a cup of coffee, baked good, or cup of soup. I do all three today.
I cannot explain the exquisite luxury of laying in my bunk in the middle of the day, snug, dry, comfortable, and watching the storm move in… popping peanut m&ms while reading my new book, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Pure bliss. Knowing there is a hot meal (make that two hot meals!) coming my way and that I can just frolic outside and be in the middle of the presidential traverse makes me feel like the richest lady on earth. Now this is platinum blazing, and it’s worth every penny.
I start chatting with the woman in the bunk across from me, and you will never believe the connections, or maybe you will.
Leslie and her family are from from Ashland, Oregon. She worked a long time for Outward Bound and I know some of her good friends in Bend. She also teaches at Southern Oregon University and knows the young lady from the Fort McDermitt Shoshone Tribe that I was working with for an ONDA trip in June. (That was a very impactful volunteer trip I led to the site of a potential lithium mine that would impact the Tribe, sagegrouse, lathontan cutthroat trout, the rancher who grazes in that area, and many other plants, animals and people who live there. It’s also near the Oregon Desert Trail. Read this for more on that issue).
So yes, my circles of life overlap out here. Maybe not so surprising after all, but it reminds me that I’m where I should be, doing what I should be doing, and making connections all the while.
I spent the rest of the afternoon making a big dent in my book, working on a puzzle, and talking with other hut guests (there are about 50 of us!)
Dinner was a ruckus affair, the menu was enchiladas, complete with bread, salad, green beans, rice, and chocolate cake for desert.
Worth every penny.