Carter Notch Hut to Madison Spring Hut – 14 miles
That cozy cabin feeling from Carter Notch Hut stayed with me through most of the morning. I hummed Norah Jones through the Wildcat range and down into Pinkham Notch, where I grabbed a delicious sandwich from the visitors center and talked to a ranger about local bats.
The climb from the notch up Mt. Madison was steep and without a defined trail, which was unsurprising by this point in the hike. It rose almost 3,000 feet over 3 miles on a big pile of rocks marked by smaller piles of rocks (cairns), and joined a growing list of trail segments that have taken me an hour or more per mile. On the bright side, I am sleeping well and I will be very strong for ski season.
Just beyond the top, I scored another Work For Stay at the Madison Spring Hut, which is more like a chalet perched way up on top of the ridge of the Presidential Range. I gorged on two huge plates of lasagna and veggies, a big bowl of soup, and three brownies. This freshly cooked dinner was infinitely better than the canned Vienna sausages I had in my food bag.
For our “work,” the staff assigned me and a 13-year-old thru-hiker to lead a brief talk on the Appalachian Trail. She was nervous to talk in front of the adults, but I reminded her she is the expert and knows far more about the trail than almost any of the weekender guests in the lodge. It takes a mature teenager to attempt a trip like this and it was very cool to hear her take on the trail so far.
Again tonight, the sky is clear. Since Mt. Washington is said to have the worst weather in North America, with wind speeds topping out at 231 miles per hour, this leaves me hopeful my climb tomorrow, the weather crux of this section.