The hiking season is in full swing, but it was only the weekend of June 16, just days before the summer solstice, that I got out on the trails for the first time! Horrors! Fortunately I was invited on a work trip to help guide a fantastic group of hikers to Lakes of the Clouds Hut on Mount Washington in the beautiful White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, so off I went!
Even though I was 'on the job' for this trip I of course hoped to get in some sketching time and to take a few photos to use later as painting references. Day one began at a very photogenic spot indeed: Crawford Notch as seen from the AMC Highland Center. The early morning light on a field full of blooming lupines with Mount Webster in the background is just perfect.
After breakfast and pulling my gear together it was time to hit the trail. The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trailhead starts with an easy woods walk before zipping up the steep sides of Mount Washington. For much of the route it follows the Ammonoosuc River, offering several places to stop beside waterfalls and pools. On a hot day there are great places to stop and cool off.
Reaching Lakes of the Clouds Hut, it was time to relax for a few hours before dinner was served in the hut. I slipped away to one of the lakes to sketch and enjoy the view. A chilly wind kept me hunkered down on conveniently chair-shaped rock overlooking the water.
The day ended with a gorgeous sunset and fairly restful night in a bunk inside the hut. The following day dawned clear and already warm. Our large group packed up after breakfast and made our way along the slopes of Mount Washington toward the Jewell trail.
Up high the temperature was moderated by a steady breeze. You could see for miles - all along the Presidential Range to Mount Madison at its northern edge, peaks in the Pemigewasset Wilderness, and even Camel's Hump way over in Vermont. As we descended the heat rose and by the time we reached the valley floor it was a scorcher of a day. Fortunately the White Mountains are rich in ice-cold streams. The folks I was with took the plunge. Though shockingly cold the water was instantly refreshing!
Overall it was a great way to kick off the hiking season and I look forward to getting out to paint and draw a lot more up here!
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