It was Satuday that I hutchecked Madison Springs and Lakes of the Clouds Huts with Chris Dufreese, a regular hutchecking companion. The hike across the ridge is my favorite hike anywhere in the White Mountains. It changes every time. Leaving Madison and ascending Adams' shoulder, we were buffeted by 70 mph winds, with higher gusts. The air, however, was warm enough to need little more than long underwear and a windbreaker. By the time we reached Edmonds Col, the winds had died a bit, and the clouds had lifted (or we had desceded below them). We could see the hem of a thick cloud curtain hanging over the Great Gulf and shrouding the summit of Mount Washington. Then my crampon broke.
I hike in L.L.Bean boots with strap-on crampons and have since learned this is a mistake. My boots flex too much for the crampon, stressing the dinky clip that holds the back and front halves together. Fortunately, at the last moment, I packed some Dermatone which comes on what I had always thought was a useless carabeener keychain. Not so. The key ring worked perfectly to reconnect my crampon, so Chris and MacGuyver ate some Dr. Almonds, and carried on.
The crampons (and Dr. Almonds) proved necessary for the hike around Jefferson. Its flanks were covered with chenille-like stretches of snow and ice. The clouds lifted, and by the time we reached Clay, the sun had peeked out from behind its curtain. Following more Dr. Almonds, we skirted Washington in the sun. Lakes hosted a quick snack and an illegal quinzee, and we warned a loitering hiker against camping next to the hut. The buttslide down the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail was just an added bonus to a beautiful, brisk, ridge walk.
Hutchecking both huts in one day allowed me to visit C.Neal at Carter that evening. I motored up in the moonlight to be welcomed by the Maine AMC chapter, led by C.Neal's high school chemistry teacher, and some delicious peach pie. It was a perfect day, and I can only attribute my endurance to a certain Doctor, and the coming of Spring.
In other news, I saw the pine marten at Zealand this week. He spent much time sunning just below the front porch and nosing around in its ice scrapings. I was so excited about my visitor that I shot an entire roll of film, and I will be sure to share them here as soon as they are developed.
This week in books:
Cruddy, by Linda Barry
The Corrections, by Johnathan Franzen
The Wild Sheep Chase, by Haruki Murakami.