These circumstances are what Ralph and I faced as we made plans to continue walking across the Presidential Range. Our options were narrow.
Leaving northbound from Nauman Tentsite, the next available camping spot on the trail is Osgood Tentsite. If we were to go to there we would have to walk 14.8 miles. That would include going over the summit of Mt. Washington (6,288 feet) and Mt. Madison (5,367 feet), while also traversing over or near the summits of six other mountains greater than 4,000 feet.
Walking that distance in the Whites can be done and many hikers do it, but it is beyond my physical limits when I’m carrying a full pack and walking on a swollen ankle. Ralph didn’t seem eager to go that far, either.
So for today, we elected to only go 4.6 miles to Lakes of the Clouds Hut. This will be a shorter section than we wanted to do, but it was the only choice if we wanted to stay on the trail. Otherwise, to find a campsite we’d have to drop down a few miles to below treeline, then make the climb back up to the trail in the morning.
We thought we would try to do another work-for-stay at Lakes of the Clouds, but there was no guarantee we could get it. Failing that, we could choose to pay $15 to sleep on the dining room floor. In other words, we would pay for the same accommodations we would get as work-for-stay, but without leftover food.
There were two other options. One was to pay nearly $150 for a bunk, and we weren’t inclined to do that, or pay $10 to stay in a room underneath the hut called The Dungeon. Even without seeing it, this didn’t sound like a pleasant option.
At least by making this a short day we would be able to walk at a more leisurely pace and we would give Stick time to catch up to us.