On Clay

Washington and Clay by Ammo and Jewel - 21/June/2003

By David Metsky

Time for a big dayhike on George. I'd been doing several hikes in the Presidentials early in the summer and now it was time to hit Washington again. It was a wonderful day, not too hot but quite sunny and dry. Brenda and I drove to the Ammo trailhead and arrived pretty early, playing with our gear and packs in the parking lot. We started out at a pretty good pace and we weren't really sure what we were going to hike. Up and down Ammo was a possibility but weather seemed to indicate otherwise. It was just too nice to quit after Monroe or Washington. We made quick but hot work up to Gem Pool where we took our first real break of the day. Others had the same idea. We rested a short while but knew there was a bit of climbing to come.

After Gem Pool the trail begins some serious climbing. The rock steps are evidence of serious work by the trail crews. Then you parallel and cross the brook before some more serious climbing. Eventually, you begin to clear the trees and get some views up towards the summit and across the Ravine. Finally, the hut looms in the distance and finally you are there. I wandered around the hut a bit taking some photos of the place, including a look around and inside the Dungeon and the area around the hut. We ran into someone I knew from VftT who recognized my spiffy new VftT patch. We grabbed some food and water here, take a break with the many other folks who were having a fine time that day.

Just below the hut    Looking south    Our next stop    The Rockpile

Wildflowers    Wildflowers    The view South    Monroe and Lakes    Bigelow Lawn

We then headed to one of my favorite stretches of trail, from Lakes of the Clouds to the summit of Washington. I'm not enchanted with either end of the trail, but the middle can be magical. First you wander through the two lakes, which always mesmerize me. Then you begin to climb and the views back towards Lakes and Monroe, as well as Bigelow Lawn are breathtaking. In addition there were many wildflowers blooming that time of year. Onward we went, higher and higher. At the junction with the Gulfside trail we met two croo from Lakes packing down to the hut. They work hard for their pay, that's for sure, but sometimes the office is a nice place to be. Up to the summit we went, past the wreckage of the burnt down generator building. It had burnt down during the winter and must have been pretty spectacular and scary.

Packing down    Loud Whistle    View from the deck    Train approaching    Another one

The summit was the usual zoo, but it's still a pleasant sort of zoo. I enjoy people watching and the trains, but it tires pretty quickly. We grabbed some Gatorade and used the bathrooms, and started back down. After a slight miscue (I headed down the wrong trail, oops) Brenda put us back on track and we headed over to Clay. Once you leave the summit and head north the crowds drop off immediately. After crossing the Cog tracks we spent a little time on the top of the Great Gulf headwall, looking down on Spaulding Lake. I've never hiked the Great Gulf trail to the top, something that is on my list for next summer. From there it's a pretty short trip to the south summit of Clay, then the North summit, where we rested for a while. We'd been hiking for a long while and it was now into the afternoon and we were tired. After a too short rest we continued back to the north junction of the Clay loop and headed back south to the Jewel trail junction. I took a slight detour to the Spauling Spring, it tasted fine.

Packing down    Loud Whistle    View from the deck    Train approaching    Another one

Between north and south Clay    Great Gulf headwall and summit    Wildflowers   

Down and down we went. I'd only done the Jewel trail in winter before and I didn't remember it very well. It's a very nice trail, but we were tired and it seemed to go on forever. Once we hit treeline I don't have many memories until coming out at the Cog base station. Then there's a short roadwalk back to the car, or you can stay on the Jewel trail extension and pop out on the road just opposite the Ammo parking lot. Either way, we made it.

Wildflowers    Wildflowers    Lakes and Monroe    Ammy

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