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every one of these lofty individuals, we communed with, this day and the next and the next. Truly different from anything else was this walk we were taking shoulder high among the giants of the race, always well above the treeline, in a world of rock and sky and
As we approached Edmand's col, Edmand's col, the connecting link between Adams and Jefferson, the weather grew threatening and almost wild. Big black manof-war clouds scudded eerily about close upon us and a streak of rain could be seen here and there. The wind seemed marshalling up its forces and the sun, so lately our comrade, sent forth strange rays from behind dark cruisers, whose meaning I scarcely understood. I remembered tales of sudden storms upon the range and the dire results sometimes to trampers, and I looked to our leader's face for symptoms of concern, but found them not; so, fearless, I too walked among the boulder kings and storm clouds upon the world's high crest.
Passing the col, the trail swung to the south side of the range, and ascended, at a steep pitch the shoulder of Jefferson (5,725 ft.), the third highest mountain, of the Presidential Range. We looked down into the Great Gulf, The Montecello Lawn, on a shelf of the mountain is a bit disillusioning to one who really believes in lawnmowers; but some enthusiast or fanatic has actually toted a croquet set to this spot and set it up in the midst of the lank grass and rocks.
The weather was now quiet but no longer clear, and as we walked over Clay, the trail swinging to the westerly side of the range, we looked across the Ammonoosuc Ravine to the Southern Peaks shrouded in mist.
We lunched on the head-wall of the Great Gulf, the col between Clay and Washington, and gloried in the beautiful view. There was the long range of the Northern Peaks over which we had been walking all the morning with, at
the end, the distinctive point of Madison, from whose summit yesterday we had looked to this head-wall and no farther. On our right-hand stood the wall of Washington, its summit dissolved in cloud. Some thousand feet below in the wooded depths was Spaulding Lake, a small but flat surface in this tumbled world of ups and downs. But this is merely a synopsis of the view. To feel it one must go and look.
We had intended to go to the summit of Washington (6,293 ft.), the highest of them all, but owing to the mass of density that supplanted the cone, when we reached the point where the Westside Trail branches off from the Gulfside, on a short cut along the base of the cone to join the Crawford Bridle Path or the still shorter MacGregor cut-off to the Lakes-of-the-Clouds Hut, we decided to take the latter and avoid the murkiness.
Our line of march was altogether out of cloud but we almost brushed the curtain. A few steps to the left would have plunged us into fog so thick that cairn-following would have been no joke.
We passed under the railroad trestle and soon came to the friendly lodging of our desire. This camp has much to rejoice in by reason of its location. The horn-like peak of Monroe (5,390 ft.), less grand but more intimate than any of the Northern Peaks, stands close at hand. The views west and east are open (the skies willing) and one thousand feet above, on the north, towers the cone of Washington, with Clay and Jefferson standing shoulder to shoulder sloping off into the valley below. The two lakes, of no mean proportion for five thousand feet elevation, add character and beauty to the place in their setting of boulder granite in the rough.
We made ourselves at home, partook of afternoon tea of our own brewing and awaited the events of nature. They were not long in coming, for on the range the weather, if there is any, does not stand still. Long before sunset
"We watched the process of cloud-making in the broad Ammonoosuc ravine."
there was a glow as the sunlight work-
stage chorus. We learned later that in
We watched the atmospheric developments until supper time when fair weather seemed assured. After supper we went out again, into the twilight.
We stayed out until after the moon came over the Carter Range and even then the sunset lingered on the western boundary of the world. It was only the cold that induced us to take shelter.
As we sat about the stone hut, dressed not only in Our thickest camping clothes and heaviest winter undergarments but with a hut blanket or two thrown over our shoulders, in blew a bare-kneed brigade from some girls' camp. The head one bore a ukelele and, on seeing an audience, struck up a tune and with her instrument as partner danced across the cement floor. The others paired off and the quiet hut was turned into a ball room. Their similarity of uniforms suggested a
At last they settled down, listened to some mountain tales from us and sang in return their camp songs. We refrained from telling them they were not fitly dressed for mountain climbing and they did not tell us we were old fogies. The evening wound up with an unexpected thunder shower adding the last dramatic touch to the day.
Some hours later peering from our folding steel-shelf pallets through the large observation windows of the hut we saw the Ammonoosuc Valley filled with the rosy mist of morning.
The youthful band with their two youthful counselors were off ahead of us with a full program included the
summit of Washington, and Tuckerman Ravine. We wondered if their buoyancy would keep them from bruising their knees on some of the rocky trails they proposed to take. How we longed to counsel the counselors!
Not long after breakfast we were off. As we were to return to the same hut for the night we left our packs and traveled "light." Our plan was to spend the day on Washington and our first objective was the summit, one mile and seven-eighths away, according to the guide book.
The mist of the valleys, now tossed into bales of light fluff, floated beneath and above us, near at hand and far away. We watched the process of cloudmaking in the broad Ammonoosuc ravine, where some fog still lay, although no longer rose-tinted; saw the bulky fledglings, sometimes like huge dirigibles, rise, poise uncertainly in mid-air as if to find their bearings and adjust themselves to flight, then sail away with flocks of others upon their great adventure. It was a morning of light and loveliness; the sky so blue; the clouds so soft; the air so clear! Ahead and up
ward the jumbled rocky cone, with its deep set trail over which the ponies used to scramble, in the days when folks rode horseback to the summit; behind and now below us, Monroe with the hut and two lakes so small in the distance; and everywhere, the ranges and the peaks, the valleys, the ravines and the notches.
As we reached the summit a wayward cloud, rambling over the mountain, made an unexpected turn and wrapped us in its damp folds. We could only laugh, it was such a mischievous caprice, button our sweaters more closely and walk on, seeing only the stones beneath our feet. It stayed but a minute, then romped lazily away, to play, perhaps, with other mountain climbers over on the Carter range.
From the summit we studied the panorama in all directions, and also indulged in coffee at the hotel. Here we found our girls' camp hikers, who had shot ahead of us early in the morning. They were huddled around the big open fireplace and looked frazzled. Their enthusiasm of the night before was gone. I heard only a few feeble thrums from
the ukelele. Their young eyes looked worn and weary. They had changed their plans and were not going down through Tuckerman but back to their camp by the nearest trail. They stared with a kind of dull astonishment at us old fogies, still "going strong." As we went out to face the gale upon the summit, they drew closer to the fire.
We followed the winding carriage road a short distance down the easterly side; looked across the massive Great Gulf to the Northern Peaks, noted the points we had traversed the day before, and remembered how the line of this carriage road had looked from the summit of Madison.
The clouds were growing very frolicsome. Now Jefferson would be lost to view; then Madison was capped; then in a twinkling all the world became clear as crystal, with the big downy things riding off to sport in the far high heavens. Across our own path, a careless gray play-fellow wandered in haphazard fashion. And we, anxious to avoid two over-talkative females from the Summit House, who had attached themselves to our party, all too evidently for the day, and were enriching our lives with tales of their journeyings in China, Mexico, and far and near everywhere, in that endless uninteresting fashion, that habitual travelers sometimes have; we, I say, took advantage of friend cloud. With no little difficulty we got few paces ahead of our new companions. Talking so rapidly. they could not walk quite as fast as we could on a pinch. Besides they were unsuspecting and entirely absorbed in describing a million dollar hotel in Alexandria. The cloud was there. We stepped within. Then moving off the carriage road a few feet to the right, still covered, we waited, completely hidden.
We heard their voices, their footfalls even, as they passed by. "Every bed in the hotel was of brass." Groping Groping about we found a huge boulder to
crouch behind when the cloud lifted. They returned, searching. We heard discussion. At last they decided we were around the bend in the road ahead, turned again and hurried on in hopes of overtaking us. And we have never known whether every room in that Egyptian hotel had a bath as well as a brass bed.
Huntington Ravine is worth looking down into and across at the huge mountainous sloping rock steep of Nelson's crag. Beneath us, so sharply beneath that some of us did not care to be too near the edge, lay the wild and seldom trod chasm of the ravine.
We were now at the foot and on the easterly side of the cone of Washington. A plateau, called the Alpine Garden runs along this side of the mountain and we passed over it on our way to the headwall of Tuckerman Ravine. Rare artic plants known no where else in New England are found here and very beautiful are some of the diminutive flowers; but to the casual eye the place does not give the impression of a garden. It certainly is not cultivated or even culled of rocks.
Tuckerman is the most heralded of the ravines, and the tramper's favorite. We lunched on the head-wall and conned the scenery well while the water for our tea prepared itself to boil. We strolled out to the heights of Boott Spur, over the flats of the Davis Path, known as Bigelow Lawn, breathed long and deeply of the views and went on, to the Hanging Cliff, where, lying flat, we peered over the edge down fifteen hundred feet to little Hermit Lake, the jewel of Tuckerman Ravine. And everywhere down there was the thick green forest of stunted fir, so different from our open heights. The most interesting thing about Mount Washington are the clouds but next are the ravines.
Returning to the Spur we took the Camel Trail back over a short mile to the Lakes-of-the-Clouds, thus having made in our day a circuit of the south
Another lovely sunset and soft blue evening, and in the night, exhibition extraordinary of the wonderful phenomenom of the Northern Lights. We had gone to bed, but rest and sleep were inconsequential, when the gods were play ing with the rays of heaven. Last night they had experimented with the lightning; tonight the mysteries of the Aurora Borealis were their whim. Can you imagine not being satisfied with the stars and the moon?
Out we stumbled into the open night and watched the long rays of variegated lights streaming from zenith to horizon. Pillars of gold and lavender they seemed. At first sharply defined and radiant, they gradually grew fainter and less luminous. An awe inspiring scene it was, to marvel at. We watched until the show was over, then remembered we were sleepy and turned in.
The next morning we had before us the Southern Peaks and homeward journey, for that evening was to see us back in Boston. Seven miles over the
Crawford Bridle Path would bring us to the Crawford House at the head of Crawford Notch and we planned to reach there in time to try their table service before taking the early afternoon train.
Bidding farewell to our youthful hosts at the hut we followed the path around. the southerly shoulder of Monroe. Deep down on our left was Oakes Gulf, and across that, forming the separating wall from the Gulf of Slides beyond, lay the Montalban Ridge, a long mountain line running from Boott Spur to Bemis, over which the Davis Trail runs.
The day was fair. We were at one with the mountains! and also with the world! Three days we had lived on the heights. What was time? But yes there was the afternoon train and our various lines of work on the morrow. We must not look over our shoulders too much at Washington's dome but onward march.
Franklin (5,028 ft.) is a big bleak shoulder that one hardly realizes is a separate peak, from the trail. I class it with Clay as one of the mountains