Mt. Washington

What we expected – flat paths and an easy climb

Last weekend we decided to climb Mt. Washington, the tallest mountain in New England. We are not avid hikers, and just returned from a rather adventurous trip, so I guess the only reason we did it was it sounded like a fun bucket list challenge. The mountain is 6,288 feet tall, and the round-trip hike up Tuckerman’s Revine is about 8 miles. However, I’ve climbed Mt. Ararat (15,600 ft) and Sara and I walked a ton on our trip, so we figured this would be a piece a cake. Our sore muscles a week later tell us differently.

We drove up the night before with my co-worker, Greg, to another co-worker’s lake house near the mountain. We had a nice night on the boat with him and his friends and family. We (Greg, Elliott, Elliott’s friend Phil, me and Sara) woke up early the next day to 80 degree weather, promising to be a warm (60 degree) day on the summit.

What we got – our destination is the one in the middle, in the clouds

Right off the bat, the trails were not what we expected. Nearly every inch was rocks, not dirt paths. At the bottom, these were 6 to 8 inch high stones, to 3 foot high boulders on the second half of the hike. The views were decent, although we had pretty bad clouds that day, so it was not ideal for picture taking. After the first half of the climb, we reached a US Forrest Service cabin where we refueled, but the second half covered 2100 feet of vertical in 1.8 miles. It was very rocky, and by the time the summit was in sight we were fairly exhausted.

The National Park Service has done a great job making Mt. Washington accessible to all with a road and a train. But, it makes climbing to the summit slightly anti-climactic when you’re around little kids and women in heels and dresses, and you are dirty and just want to eat as much food as possible (our group ate 5 slices of pizza, 2 coffee cakes, and 10 chili dogs). The top was nice, but it was pretty cloudy so views were limited and it was really windy (>50 mph). Plus, we were all dreading the hike back down. The $45 train wasn’t an option since it would put us 10 miles from the trail-head. After some summit photos, we headed back down.

I think the hike down would have been easier if it weren’t for four things:

  1. The hike up.
  2. The heavy rain that came down on us half-way down. Luckily we were below the tree line and the big rocks so this was manageable.
  3. 10 chili cheese dogs, 2 coffee cakes, and 5 slices of pizza.
  4. The sign at the top listing all of the people that died climbing the third most deadly mountain in the US (most were just doing stupid stuff, although one fell down the 800 ft revine we’d be hiking down).

We made it!

Despite those hurdles, we made it down in a hair under 8 hours. It was a great accomplishment, but we’ve been paying for it all week tending to cuts and blisters, and hobbling around home and the office as our legs throb in soreness. It was definitely worth it, though, for the comraderie, the views, and the sense of accomplishment. This weekend we are back to our preferred style of adventure, visiting Philly, watching baseball and eating at delicious restaurants.

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