Mount Washington, NH + 4


I got my introduction to hiking back East on Mount Washington. My eyes were definitely opened, and this was harder then many of my trips out West.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

Big Tom had come out to visit me in Idaho several times, so it was time for me to visit him in New Hampshire. We got a typical late start and missed the morning shuttle at the hut, leaving us to hitch hike the five miles to the Dolly Copp trailhead. Right at the crack of 10am.

Great way to start a long day in the mountains.

That's Mount Washington in the background.

Tom had chosen the Daniel Webster trail for our ascent from the valley floor. The idea was to avoid the traffic often found on the busier trails. We set our altimeters to 1300' and started up.

Yes, that IS the trail behind us in the pic. Compared to what most in the west would think of as a trail, it's more like a 5000' rock scramble.

After a while, we neared timberline- a welcome relief to me because in the trees there was almost no wind- and I needed some wind to help me deal with the humidity.

The sign is worth reading- click on it to see a larger version.

We finally made the ridge top and a trail junction, and also ran into our third hiker for the day. No, we didn't count the people we saw- it wasn't really that crowded- but the point is that this trail gets very little use.

That's our first summit of the day, Mount Madison.

But we still had some climbing to do to get there. Note the large cairn near the right of the picture, and also note two additional things: there are cairns everywhere on the trails, and there is a trail next to the cairn... can you tell? The "tread" is a little rocky.

Tom nears the summit of Mt. Madison. The guide book says it's 4:20 from the bottom. We halved that.

The extensive trail system here also includes huts where for a small fee you can roll your sleeping bag out on a communal bunk. It's actually quite nice and homey- a kitchen, and even a library.

The kitchen had an overrun on cobbler, and it was all-you-can-eat for a buck. Well, if they wanted to get rid of food, they were talking to the right guys.

That's Mt. Adams in the immediate background, with Mt. Jefferson hidden behind it.

Looking back at the hut and Mount Madison as we made our way up Adams.

Mount Jefferson from the top of Adams. The rocks haven't gotten much smoother.

Tom on the top of Mount Jefferson. Still sort of rocky. Note the cairns again.

From the top of Jefferson, we were feeling like we were getting closer to our final objective, Mount Washington. But before we got there, we still had Mount Clay to climb. Clay looks like a little bump on the ridge from here, but note the deep drop between here and there.

The next shot is a panorama looking back from part way up the climb between Clay and Washington. So from the right we have Madison, Adams, Jefferson, and Clay.

looking north from Mount Washington

Looking the other direction, you can see there is still some climbing to do. The smoke isn't a fire- it's the cog railway. Noisy and smelly, but sort of quaint. It's one of the three modes of ascent: train, car, or walk. Of course, of the three, we had to choose the hardest.

Here's a close-up of the train. It was overheated and had to stop to cool the boilers, and we actually caught up with it. Surprising, considering how overheated I was myself.

And here we are on the top of Washington, the highest point in New Hampshire. Note the sweat pouring off my sunken cheeks. I was cooked. Baked. Done. Fried. In a word, wasted.

But once again, there was food service available and we worked hard to recover.

We really needed to recover, because we still had to descend 5000' back to the car down the Lion's Head trail. Note the lengthening shadows.

But Tom promised me that as soon as we got off this first steep, rocky section, it would be smooth and fast.

Yeah, right.

It was like this almost the whole 4500' drop to the car, which we finally reached just before dark. Hey, it's the Granite State, right?

But to make it all worthwhile, when we got to the lodge, they had screwed up our reservations, leaving us without rooms.

So like the trooper he is, Tom jumped behind the wheel and we wove our way down the highway, dodging moose. It was a bit of a drive, but when we arrived at Tom's place on Silver Lake, there was food and beds. We went to sleep listening to the loons.

Mr. Natural Home | 2005 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski