Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mount Washington on a perfect day

... and a big personal milestone - 3000 miles of AT hiked this year!

Friday, July 20, 2012:

Some days you just get all the breaks.  Today's summit weather on Mt. Washington was as ideal as it ever gets.  At right are the official observations.  The first column (20) is the date, next is the time (24 hour format, Eastern Daylight Time), then wind direction and speed in miles per hour, visibility in miles, cloud cover, cloud measurements, temperature (F), dew point (F), etc.  The point being that visibility was perfect (130 miles), wind nearly calm, and temperature cool but pleasant all day long.  This is rare.  And it led to some great views.

Here's the big mountain as seen from across the 'Great Gulf' on the slopes of Mt. Adams:

And here's the view in exactly the opposite direction, taken from Mt. Washington, with Mt. Adams right of center and Mt. Jefferson left:

And here's the 'Great Gulf' - a vast closed-end valley that lies between.  Mts. Adams and Madison are at left (Madison is the lower, pointy peak farther away than Adams):

I hiked that entire U-shaped route - following the ridge around the Great Gulf from Mt. Washington to Mt. Madison and back, almost always above tree line, so nearly constantly bathed in vast panoramic views all day long.  It was Nirvana!

Along the way I dropped down to visit the newly rebuilt Madison Springs Hut (check this cool video of the hut's history and rebuild).  This shot shows the hut in its context, with the sharp summit of Mt. Madison behind:

And I watched as the first train of the day came up the Cog Railway line - technology from the 19th century.  Just look at that disgusting pollution cloud casting its shadow over the forest.  That's the Mt. Washington Hotel in Crawford Notch in the background with Franconia Ridge clearly visible beyond:

I call the shot below 'The Scouring of the Shire' because it reminds me of Tolkien's passionate contempt for how the dirty, noisy machine age was destroying the quality of life in his time.  This railway is a throwback to that age.  That's Lakes of the Clouds Hut playing the role of Hobbiton behind:

So all was not perfect in paradise.  But the Old Indian on the north slopes of Mt. Madison seems to be cracking a smile as he peers out over his exquisite vista.  I think he liked what he was seeing today :-)


Here's the map of today's hike, and a link to all the rest of the good photos I took today:

AT Day 183 - The Presidential Range at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find trail maps for California and beyond

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