I once read a list of top 10 deadliest hikes in America and of course immediately knew I wanted to do ALL of them. I have problems I know. As I scanned the list and frowning that so far I have only accomplished one. The mist trail to the Half Dome in Yosemite (P.S. totally worth it. Probably the most amazing hike I have done to date) was that one.
As my eyes continued to scan the list, I noticed that Mountain Washington, a hike a mere 3 hour drive (thought from someone who can’t drive) from Boston was also on the list. Ever since then, I’ve been inching to go. Tony has done the hike in the winter and we slowly collected some gear but it never worked out. Finally July 4th weekend was perfect timing.
I mean it’s hot, so it should be tolerable at the summit right?
A few facts!
At 6,288 feet, it is the highest point in the northeast USA.
In April 1934, the observatory recorded a 231-mile-per-hour (372 kmh) wind that remains a world record for a land-based weather station.
Some of the observatory buildings are secured to the summit with chains to keep them from blowing away.
Temperatures atop the mountain can drop as low as -47 degrees Fahrenheit (-44 C)
But once again, it’s summer and 90 degrees at the base so how bad could it really be on top.
As we parted the car, we noticed other hikers coming out of their cars with large backpacks filled with something or other and I suddenly got very subconscious of my lack of gear.
The ‘gear” we had
1. One camelpak I use for running that holds 2 liters of water
2. 2 smaller bottles of water in Tony’s backpack
3. 3 Peanut butter sandwiches & a few lara bars
4. headlamps – Because after almost being stuck on a trail in pitch darkness in Yosemite, we never leave without it
5. T shirt and shorts for Tony, Tank, hoodie and shorts for Liana
6. Innov-8 running shoes for Liana and saucony virrata for Tony
The fact that all the other hikers had rain gear and pants should have been a smarter sign for us but again its 90 at the base, just the thought of more layers made me sweat.
From the beginning, there is no slow easy walk in the woods. The boulders start from the beginning. Although at a gradual incline level, you will be hiking rocks the whole trail.
And while the trail itself is
unpleasant brutal horrible challenging, you are constantly rewarded with beautiful cascades around you.
After 2.4 miles of boulder hoping you get to Tuckerman Ravine’s Shelters.
Can you see the storm that’s brewing above?
Now many hikers end their journey here. Because after the tree line things get a little bit more gnarly.
I’m still sweating and sweating from the heat, meanwhile my shoes are still soaking wet from a waterfall hike we did yesterday.
Visibility is getting worse but we’re still smiling
We are walking and taking pictures when suddenly it starts pouring rain and I start to understand why everyone was carrying rain gear. Of course with lack of rain cover or even a plastic bag, I try to protect my camera and phone as best I can. I cover it all up under my hoodie and hope for the best.
It starts getting darker and darker. The rangers at the base said that there’s chances of thunder storms and if you see one coming, you should probably get below tree line.
We start noticing a few hikers turning around. We’re probably half a mile from the summit. Why would you hike 3.5 miles uphill just to turn around before you hit the summit. I pouted and pouted as grew darker and rainier and I questioned how will I ever hike down these rocks once they’re wet. We talked to one group of fit looking hikers who were turning around at the point we were at. One of them summitted Mount Washington 7 times and said it’s probably best to not risk it with how bad the weather is.
I guess if the fit people with rain jackets are turning around, maybe its time for me to get my unprepared bum back down as well. So sadly we turned and made the hike back down. Had we went through the trouble of getting to the top, there would have been no visibility whatsoever, so there was very little to gain from going hire besides a high potential for injury, being stuck or getting struck by lightening.
On the clearest days, observers can see as far as Mount Marcy in New York State, 134 miles to the west.
So worry not Mount Washington, while I have yet to summit you, I’ll return and await a clear day when I can see as far as my almost blind eyes will allow me too.
The hike back down was a little scary on the ravine side. The rocks got wet and suddenly were a lot more of a challenge going down than up. It took me a while to get more comfortable. Once we got into the tree line, it was back to be 90 and sunny.
Yes Mount Washington summit has a climate of it’s own.
While, I felt a little depressed about my weather luck lately, I did get to end the hike on a happy note.
I mean how could you not be happy after seeing that? Crystal cascades, about a 5 minute hike from the base?