Watching the Clouds Float In . . . Washington & Monroe

Date of Hike: 1/3/21

Cog Rail Trail: 2.7 miles / Gulfside Trail: 0.4 miles / Crawford Path: 1.5 miles / Mount Monroe Loop: 0.6 miles / Crawford Path 1.5 miles / Gulfside Trail: 0.4 miles / Cog Rail Trail 2.7 miles 
Total Miles : 9.8 miles / 5,344' elevation gained

Trip Report:
- Sunday morning called for clear skies in the morning with low winds, which means only one thing to me, Presi Day!
- Not knowing how much snow the higher elevations received, I decided to leave Sarge at home for this one and scamper up the swath next to the Cog Railroad tracks.  This winter the Cog is running trains up to 4,000 feet just above Waumbek Tank, knowing this I decided to get an early start to have a quiet and peaceful hike up the three miles to the summit.
- The swath has a continuous semi-steep grade with two extra steep bursts at Jacobs ladder and right above it before the grades become moderate as it wraps around the summit cone.
- In the snow free months the swath is pretty ugly terrain with dusty dirt down low, transitioning to hundred years worth of soot buildup on rocks, some coal, old railroad ties and pieces of junk left to rust the higher it goes.  However, when everything is buried in snow it takes on a winter wonderland form with continuous views
- Conditions were pretty tame along the Cog on Sunday as there were only a few inches of fresh snow.  I followed a single set of snowshoe tracks up, I was able to get by with my studded winter trail runners (La Sportiva Blizzard) until Jacob's Ladder where I put on my Hillsound Trail Crampons. 
- It was one of the easiest winter hikes of Mount Washington I have ever had, and since I got to the summit around 9:30AM I decided to stay above the trees a little longer so I dropped down the Crawford Path to Lakes of the Clouds and scooted up Mount Monroe.
- From here I was kind of dreading heading back down to the car so I figured I'd  just hike back up and over Washington!  As I resummited the rock pile the clouds started to float in at the lower elevations making for sweet views from Washington then along the tracks before reaching the Jeep around noon and home to Sarge in time for the Pats game.

Marshfield Station

Looking down the tracks back at Marshfield Station

Early morning moon setting

Marshfield Station getting smaller as I ascend the tracks

Waumbek Station with the summit in view

View to the west from Waumbek Station

Cog Railroad

Just above 4,000 feet the track diverges from the swath for a few tenths of a mile

Jacob's Ladder

Above Jacob's Ladder

Around 5,750' the grade starts to level out as it approaches the summit cone

Mount Jefferson, Adams, Madison and the Great Gulf Wilderness

Approaching the Gulfside Trail

Mount Washington

The infamous stairs to the summit for hikers coming from the Tuckerman Ravine Trail

Undercast to the east of Boott Spur

Clouds floating into the Wildcat Range

Bright early morning sun shinning above Crawford Path

Crawford Path

Lakes of the Clouds

Mount Monroe Loop Junction as the clouds slowly drift in front of the sun

Mount Washington as seen from Mount Monroe

Southern Presidential Range

Looking to the southeast from Monroe

Franconia Ridge way off in the distance

A crow flies above Lakes looking for food scraps, better luck in the summer buddy!

Pano of the hut

Mount Washington Valley

Stage House

Weather Observation Tower

Clouds rolling in from the west

Mount Clay and Jefferson

Cog Railroad

Bretton Woods

Mount Waumbek Tank

Into the clouds!

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