Monday, September 15, 2008
It was a misty rainy hike up to Lonesome Lake hut on Friday afternoon. Sara and I hiked the 1.6 miles in just under an hour and discovered that only five other people had made their way up.
There was a man who had hiked to the hut with his two little children and over dinner we learned that he was a photojournalist and had spent time in Macedonia ten years ago covering the Albanian refugee situation. Then we discovered that one of the croo had a friend visiting and that the friend was headed to Mozambique for the Peace Corps. What a small world.
Saturday the weather cleared out and we were able to enjoy a spectacular view of Franconia Ridge. The photojournalist and his children headed down the mountain and the hut filled up with day hikers and a large group that was staying for the night. Sara headed back to the car to drive home and Charlie switched places with her and hiked up to spend Saturday night with me at the hut.
The hut was totally full with 48 on Saturday night. There was one large group of friends and two smaller family groups all talking and laughing at once. Because Lonesome Lake hut is so close to I-93 (only an hour hike--1.6 miles and 1000 feet in elevation) it is a great "starter" hike. Folks who haven't hiked much before or families with young children can access the hut and get a taste of the back country. The AMC croo takes care of providing a hearty supper and breakfast and the bunks are comfortable and equipped with three woolen blankets and a pillow.
The huts through the white mountains are also convenient to the Appalachian Trail and they provide a place for through hikers to stay and in exchange for some chores they can get a meal and a place to sleep on the floor.
Overnight heavy rain started and the 48 people at breakfast were all a little quieter wondering how miserable it would be getting back down the mountain. One thing you learn and acquire as you hike for a while is the correct clothing for weather in the mountains. The secret is synthetic fabrics that dry quickly--it took me a few years but I now have a wardrobe from undergarment to outerwear that will minimize the amount of moisture next to my skin and maximize the preservation of my body heat.
The weather in the White Mountains can be mercurial and coupling that with the accessibility of trails leading to the high peaks, every year there are accidents, injuries and fatalities due to the weather and judgment errors. Tom posted an entry about a terrible death and near-death on Franconia Ridge that occured this past Winter. There is an newspaper article about the survivor here.
Many of the rookie hikers at the hut on Sunday had blue jeans, sneakers and sweatshirts for their walk down the mountain in the rain. The temperatures were warm enough that nothing but discomfort would result from their cotton clothing but it wouldn't have taken much of a drop in temperature for the situation to be more concerning.