Mt Lafayette is the second highest peak in The White Mountains of New Hampshire
, Mt Washington
being the highest peak. It dominates the Franconia Notch area.
Unlike Mt Washington, Mt Lafayette does not have a cog
railway, or an auto access road, or crowds of overweight people in cotton clothes, or a weather station, or a cafeteria
, or overpriced trinkets made in an Asian
country by low wage labor. This is America
, and Mt Lafayette is, after all, the second
highest peak in the White Mountains.
On a clear day
, the views from the summit are dramatic
(I use this word, dramatic, to describe the views, but more accurately, it describes the inner experience one undergoes in beholding these views. The views, properly speaking, do not act out any drama
- they merely exist, and present themselves to you, the person who has climbed up here, precisely for this purpose: to behold these dramatic views. This sense of drama is increased on a partially cloudy day
. On these days, the clouds often cloak the views from sight, so all you can tell is that you're on this mass of cold, hard granite
. Until the clouds part and the views present themselves, the views indicating that you are not just on a mass of granite, but very high up in the clouds indeed, and that there is much more space beneath your feet than you realized or even thought possible, when that space had been offstage, cloaked
Mt Lafayette is truly sublime
in bad weather. Sublime in that 19th century
context of overwhelming beauty combined with power and terror - a feeling that all is not well, that right now I feel like this lightning, instead of being over me, is right next to me; that this stiff
breeze is blowing all the heat out of me; that this rain is truly horizontal
; and why don't I just take these stinking glasses off, since they've fogged up and I can't see anything, not even the next God damned cairn
, that I must find so I can continue my death march up this cold wet mass of unforgiving granite. Mt Lafayette is this kind of sublime.)
A rectangular stone foundation sits at the summit of Lafayette. I have been told this was once an inn of some sort. On bad weather days, this foundation affords some minimal protection against the wind. On fair weather days you can see the people, with handle bar moustaches and camlets
, sitting atop burroughs, coming up the bridle path, clad in wool, no Gortex, no DuPont, no bright colors. They will stay at this inn, atop the second highest peak in the White Mountains. If the weather is fair, they will sit on these rocks, and feel the soft breeze, and lose themselves in the universe of these views.