And we climbed.
After months of planning and training, I successfully climbed (and descended!) Mount Washington in New Hampshire on July 31.
We – college bestie Kate, and pit crew mom and dad – drove up north on Thursday after a morning of baking, yoga, and softball. We drove straight to the trailhead – I didn’t want there to be any question in the morning about where we were actually entering the woods, and I also wanted to check the signs to make sure nothing would stand in our way (tip #1!). Then we headed to the adorable Airbnb we called home for the next few days – it was perfectly situated just a 20 minute drive from the Cog Railroad parking lot and the trails we were planning to take up and down (tip #2!).
After an early night (of settling Catan), we were up and out and on the trail by 7:15 AM. It being a Friday, we saw only a few people in the first hour. The trail we took – Ammanoosuc Ravine Trail – had some great landmarks along the way… but since we started at a slightly different trailhead than what the book measured from, we actually had no idea when to expect them. Still, we enjoyed waterfalls, jumping from stone to stone to cross rivers, walking on logs over ravines, and even climbing a little ladder.
We saw maybe 30 people total between the base and the Lakes of the Clouds hut – mostly, we were able to share the trail well (despite some campers who were racing to the top and not so much caring about right of way). Our biggest traffic jam actually turned out to be a waterfall crossing my research had warned me about… but we were so caught up in the flow of the hike that we didn’t realize it until we were done – I didn’t even take a picture of the falls, just of the rock wall!
As we got toward the top, we could see beautiful views off in the distance. We broke through the trees just as the one steam train of the day chugged up the mountain, and were able to watch it make its slow way up the slope.
We had been hiking for three hours when Kate said “I see a roof!”. I laughed – all I saw ahead of us was fog and surely we hadn’t gone far enough yet. But lo and behold! There was the Lakes of the Clouds hut, appearing and disappearing as the wind whipped the clouds around the mountain.
We stopped in for $1 lemonade and to peek into the bunk rooms, signed the guest book, and decided that we felt spry enough to take on another challenge: Mount Monroe. It was only .3 miles away – how could we resist?
The path was rocky to say the least, and we got our first full taste of the force of the wind. We could barely see 15 feet in front of us, but we kept to the path ok. Every time we came to a high place, we thought it was the top – and only then could we see to the next mini-peak.
After about 25 minutes, we came to a flat-ish section of rock with a thin metal rod in the edge – no sign, no geographic marker… just a metal peg. “This must be it,” we declared (tip #3!). And thus, we took a selfie, wrapped our windbreakers a little tighter, and headed back to the Lake of the Clouds hut for the final mile and a half of the hike up.
And that, ladies and gents, is a story for another day – I stayed up late writing this and watching the GOP debate (aka strengthening my resolve to work for Hillary), so I’ll tell you more about the trip to the summit and the way back down on the next pass!