Friday, October 07, 2011

the hut

At the summit of Lafayette, I was feeling almost exhausted. The wind was blasting so strongly that I couldn't keep the camera still to take photographs. This is one of my last photos, of a shelter at the summit, before the camera battery died.

Along the ridge trail, you can see Greenleaf hut in the distance. I kept looking at it. I had brought a sandwich with me, but I knew there was food at the hut, and it looked more and more tempting the more tired I got.

Finally, after descending from Lafayette, the wind began to taper off again. I stopped at a viewpoint to grab my sandwich... only to find it wasn't there! (I never did find it. It's kind of a mystery at this point.) I snacked on a chocolate bar, which was all I had left, and thought some more about visiting the hut.

As I approached the hut, I began hearing a strange sound. It sounded a lot like the smoke monster from Lost. Once I reached the hut, I could see it was coming from a strange weather vane contraption on the top of the hut. I still have no idea what it was for.

On a whim I decided to go inside. It was 3 pm, getting late. There were a couple of bored looking employees, and a couple of small groups of people at the tables. The food was not so appealing. They had some kind of instant coffee packages ($1), hot water, lemonade ($1), a couple of cakes (looked like crumb cake and pumpkin cake, $2 each) and - hm, free pancakes left over from breakfast! I meandered off to look around. The place is pretty posh, and seems relatively new. The rooms all seem to be the same, with two bunk beds. A bit too chummy if you ask me, although nice and clean. There are two rest rooms, with composting toilets (kind of stinky, I would not want to be bunking next to them). I meandered on back, grabbed a pancake, and left.

As I went off into the woods, it occurred to me that it was pretty stupid that I didn't grab several pancakes. This is what fatigue does to you.

I scarfed down the pancake (they are the better part of valor!) and booked it down the mountainside. I passed several groups of people, some of whom I'd seen at the hut. As usual I experienced left knee pain, but I went pretty fast despite that. It's supposed to take 2 h 40 min to get from the hut to the parking lot, and I made it in just under 2 hours, which was quite a surprise.

I should have used sunscreen, since I'm sunburned today. Despite that, and the crazy wind, this was one of my top hikes in the Whites. I hope I will do it again some day, without all the wind.

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