8/23, Day 116, Lake of the Clouds Hut to Osgood Tentsite, 10.0 miles
Tens of thousands of feet have walked across the rocks and alpine tundra, scuffing a trail to show the way. Rock pyramids, called cairns, are piled frequently and white or yellow blazes are painted on boulders. Even with all this marking, I have missed the trail repeatedly today. The problem is the very strong wind and the even more forceful gusts. My foot is aimed for one spot and strikes the ground where it is blown. Sometimes we had to stop, crouch and wait for the gust to die down.
The day was absolutely beautiful, clear, and bug-free with world-class views of a line of peaks – Mts Clay, Jefferson, Adams, & Madison.
When we left the Lake of the Clouds to climb 1.5 miles to the summit the wind was at our backs and we flew up the tough rocky trail, topped out and immediately headed for the visitor center. Just as we arrived at the top the clouds covered the peak. We waited about 15 minutes for the cloud to pass. Looking through windows was the best way to enjoy Mt Washington. We were part of the crowd that drove up or took the cog train up. Two weddings were scheduled and the place was a zoo. We needed to stand on the deck for 15 min to make certain that our picture was taken and we only lasted about 2 minutes! It was just to cold and windy.
6288′ Mt Washington is the point at which 3 weather systems converge or collide with stormy results. The all time high temperature is 68* and it holds the record for fastest wind speed ever recorded at 231 mph. July and August are its least windy months. The average wind speed is only 25 mph.
We eventually had to hike on, so we geared up and bravely set forth moving as fast as we could. We reached Madison Springs Hut at 4 pm and ducked in for shelter, wimped out and asked work-for-stay. The hut was full and other hikers got the jobs so we went out into the gorgeous but cold and windy day again. We rock scrambled up 500′ to the to of Mt Madison, over and down as the wind increased in intensity. We were glad to drop below tree line to get a break from the wind but sad that the spectacular views were over.
We kept moving and found a free campsite at Osgood Tent Site on a tent platform. Our timing was perfect as we got set up, filtered water, cooked and ate just as darkness fell.