Mid-Afternoon Break on the Summit
2017-07-27 20:44:08.000 – Julia Moreland, Summit Intern
The weather here on the summit is always beautiful. Whether it is thunderstorms or rain, strong winds and clear mornings, or constant fog for days on end (I can touch the clouds, what could be better than this!), there is always something to admire. Yesterday, however, was likely the most beautiful day that I’ve witnessed during my time at the observatory. So magnificent in fact, that we had no choice but to hike down to Lake of the Clouds. After many weeks of waiting for the perfect moment of lovely weather and a lull in the action in the weather room, we had been blessed with an opportunity to traverse beyond the summit cone.
The quintessential summer cumulous clouds were dotting the sky, and the winds were just a breeze on the summit. The sun was especially warm, which was lovely and refreshing and full of summer despite our being so much colder than the valleys. I dressed a bit too warm for the occasion, realizing that less than a mile down the Crawford path, the decline in elevation was already warming us up. And so layers were shed and vitamin D was absorbed by all.
We encountered a young hiker, alone but knowing the rest of her group was about 10 minutes in front of and behind us, so we befriended her for a short while as we walked. She explained that she was petrified of heights and that she was “never going to climb this mountain again,” but I truly hope she realized how much of an achievement it is for her to have summited Mount Washington, leaving all of those fears in the dust. We passed many hikers on our decline, one carrying a canoe from the lakes, others running and others taking their time. We were on a budget with time, but that didn’t stop us from taking in the views enough to etch them into our memories.
We finally reached the lakes; in just enough time to touch the clearest water I’ve ever seen, and watch the tadpoles and froglets flourish around the rocks and algae. How remarkable it is that there is life teeming in a puddle in the sky, and yet they have no idea that they can often reach out and touch the clouds.
As always, the hardest part is going back up. With an hour left, we exerted our strengths and climbed with purpose, but also stopped often to look the ocean of mountains behind us and to check to the map to figure out “what ravine is this” and to see for sure if “the Ammonoosuc trail actually connects to the Crawford Path” and to often exclaim how “tiny those people up there on the trail look!” while we were still far away. I think this is the best way to hike – with determination, but just a tad dazed by the scenery.
After making bets on when we would make it back, Elizabeth won at 6:01 pm, a minute late but in my opinion, impeccable timing. After a long Saturday of Seak the Peak, this boosted our morale tenfold – hiking truly can make almost anything better.
Julia Moreland, Summit Intern