The weather was questionable. We started in the fog and didn't know if it was going to blow out or not. Temps on the summit would be in the high 30's with wind gusts to 70 mph. We made sure we had all the necessary gear for whatever the weather would be.
We had camped the night before at the Sugarloaf campground, located between Twin Mountain and Bretton Woods. Our morning drive was only a couple miles long and we were on the Ammonoosuc Trail at 9:30. We heard the whistle of the nearby cog railway as we started out. As expected, lots of people were climbing. We passed about 50 people on the way to the AMC Lake of the Clouds hut (including a woman carrying a baby in her arms with the baby just wrapped in a blanket). Lots of hikers were concerned about this woman carrying the baby above treeline in the conditions that were forecast. She gruffly said that she was the baby's mother and that she knew what she was doing. There was nothing anyone could say to her.
|Our campsite at Sugarloaf Campground 1 (near Twin Mountain)|
We reached the Lake of the Clouds hut in an hour and 45 minutes. The fog had gotten thicker. We had toyed with adding Mount Monroe to our itinerary, but decided against it since we couldn't see anything. A large number of people were huddled out the wind on the leeward side of the hut, taking a break and having some food. We weren't hungry yet, so we didn't take a break.
|The AMC Lake of the Clouds Hut|
|Nick at the Lake of the Clouds|
|The Crawford Path|
When we reached the summit, an hour later, I told Nick to brace himself for the crowd inside the summit building. Since the auto road and cog railway were still running, there were many non-hikers in the building and it was standing room only.
|Just some of the people in the summit building...|
I had an awesome bowl of chili and Nick had a coffee and some potato soup. I'm not used to buying food on top of a mountain! We lingered for about an hour, with the foolish thought that the clouds and fog were going to blow out. It didn't look promising. It was now a little after 1 PM and we decided to resume hiking.
|This is the line of people waiting there turn to take a picture at the summit sign!|
|The old Tip Top House|
Wouldn't you know it that 10 or 15 minutes after we left the summit, it started to clear!
At first we saw a little hole in the clouds with blue sky behind. Within minutes the whole cloud mass was leaving us! We crossed over the cog railway to the lip of the Great Gulf Wilderness and it opened up before our eyes! Just look at the next few photos...
|Our first glimpse of blue sky.|
|The cog railway|
|The Great Gulf !|
|Here comes the cog...|
|Smoke from the approaching cog railway|
|Lots of smoke!|
|There's the culprit|
|The clearing below is the base of the cog railway|
We were thrilled to get some awesome views while we were still in the alpine zone above the treeline. We slowed down our pace to take in the beauty around us.
|A ray of sunshine is beaming on the AMC Lake of the Clouds Hut with Mount Monroe in the background.|
|Looking up at Nick re-entering the trees on the Jewell Trail.|
Needless to say, we really enjoyed the day. The changing weather added another dimension to the hike. A bluebird sky day wouldn't have been as much fun.
Hike Distance: 9.4 miles
Hike Time: 4.5 hours + an hour on the summit
Total Vertical Gain: ~4000'