Saturday, March 7, 2015

NEW HAMPSHIRE SCENES: From the Rock Pile: Lakes of Clouds!

Lakes of the Clouds Hut and LAKES of CLOUDS

Continuing with my resolution to paint each of the Appalachian Mountain Club Huts within its panoramic setting, Lakes of the Clouds Hut may lay  claim to the most spectacular setting. 
Climbing the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, the hut isn't visible until you mount the last two hundred yards or so up and over a boulder strewn ledge.  

Suddenly, there it is…Sitting in the saddle between Mt. Washington and Mt. Monroe,  where the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail junctions with Crawford Path. It's only .3 miles and 300 feet elevation gain from Mt. Monroe summit and 1.4 miles from Mt. Washington summit. 
What more could one ask for a setting? 
"From the Rock Pile: Lakes of Clouds"   Pastel,      20X 24

I found out. At an elevation of 5,012 feet, Lakes of the Clouds Hut is often in the clouds or above them. That first night I spent in the hut, looking at the shifting clouds and lines of mountains forming valleys to the West, I came to think of the clouds themselves as lakes. Next morning, ascending Crawford Path towards Mt. Washington summit, only a few hundred yards up the trail II saw the two very small "lakes"  that give the hut its name, and then I went on to experience the "Rock Pile" first hand. 

You don't have to live in the White Mountain region long, or visit often, to know that "The Rock Pile" is an affectionate and appropriate nick name for Mount Washington. Crawford Path winds upwards through fields and slopes of rocks and you know you are on a very large and extensive "rock pile," the result of more than one ice sheet covering and crumbling the peak in geologic eons. This peak claims the record for the highest wind velocity recorded by man, and is said to have the worst weather in the world. 

But herein lies the beauty of the trail and the hut. Gaining height towards the summit, those two small lakes disappear from view, but 6 foot cairns, rock piles in their own right, usually topped by a white quartz rock, give direction to the trail. 

"From the Rock Pile"  the roof of the hut is sometimes and sometimes not visible, but the clouds are usually present as wisps and veils across the trail, and clouds of substance,
looking very much like LAKES of CLOUDS, giving this most popular of huts another reason for its descriptive name. How many times I've been above the hut, above the clouds thinking that down in Conway people aren't seeing Mount Washington, but I am...

Whether you're hiking the trails or reaching the Rock Pile Summit, via the cog railway or the auto road, look for the hut and see if you don't agree that from above Lake of the Clouds hut seems to be set in Lakes of Clouds. Better yet, put on your hiking boots, climb the Ammonoosuc trail to the hut and look West, or stay over night and watch the sunset show.

For more New Hampshire Scenes, visit my website,, and/or e-mail me at with questions, comments, or to share your experiences. My paintings can be viewed at Group 8 Gallery in Jackson, or at my studio by appointment,  in Freedom, NH.