Madison Spring Hut to Mizpah Hut – 12 miles
Originally I hoped to leave the Madison Spring Hut early to beat the frequent afternoon thunderstorms on Mt. Washington, but that plan became moot when thunder and lightning woke me at 4:30 AM. From the harbor of the sturdy building, the booms and flashes were far less intimidating than they would have been from inside my tent on the high ridge.
It was still pouring when I woke up. Walking out into the drizzle seemed unappealing, especially since I didn’t want to get soaked before walking on the barren and windswept traverse of the Presidential Range ridge. Since I’m tiny and alone, hypothermia is a real danger up here.
I grabbed a cup of coffee, curled up near a window in the warm lodge, and wrote in my journal while I watched hopefully for the storm to lighten up and the blue sky to peek out. My lazy morning strategy worked. I left Madison Hut with blue skies and a belly full of leftover pancakes and eggs.
After the pleasant calm of the huts, Mt. Washington felt more like a carnival than the highest peak in New England. The summit was complete with a train, a museum, two gift shops, and a hot dog stand with nacho cheese sauce. Each of these attractions had a long line, including the summit cairn. I ate lunch with some plump tourists who allowed me to sit with them despite how bad I must smell. They looked equally baffled that I walked up on my own two feet as I did that they rode a cog railway to the top of the mountain just to eat a chili dog. Still, tourist attractions like these give city folks an opportunity to understand the intrinsic value of wild places.
As quickly as possible, I skedaddled toward the Mizpah Spring Hut for my third Work For Stay. The ladies served delicious homemade leftovers, some friendly hikers passed around a bottle of Grand Marnier, and we tucked into our sleeping bags on the floor of the cozy library and fell asleep to the sound of light rain on the roof.
If you can’t tell already, I’m pretty smitten with these huts. They feed me delicious food, are full of nice people, and shelter me from the rain – all for free. What’s not to like? They’ve been the perfect pick-me-up after the Maine funk.