where I want to be right now:
So, I made it up and down the mountain without falling down once, which is actually quite an accomplishment for me.
The last of the snow from the winter…it wasn’t as impressive as last year since it was all gloomy when we went by in the morning. If we had come down the same trail (which we should have) the pictures would have been much better.
We made it up here in fairly record time for me. 4 miles in just about 4 hours…with the extra weather and some issues with breathing and a large group of people standing in the middle of the trail, so annoying.
Four times up and cloudy skies each time. I actually had some clear skies once while almost to the top, but they went away fairly quickly. Mount Washington spends about 90% of its year in some sort of cover: fog, clouds, snow, sleet, rain. It looks like this time will be no different with showers predicted for the morning of our hike.
Hopefully by the time this summer is over, I will have two more summit pictures to show. One will be a true summit (in my mind) because I’ll walk up myself. The other one will be aided by a car ride (really a truck ride) up the Auto Road. As my birthday present to myself, I have booked myself a weekend at the Mount Washington Observatory. Not only do I get to be geeky and learn about weather, I get to sleep overnight on the summit. How cool is that? I would rather the clear skies for that because I am definitely bringing both my cameras (just got the new one) to try and take pictures of the stars! 🙂
Mount Washington stands at 6,288 feet (1,917 m) and is the highest point of both the White Mountain’s 4000-footers and of New Hampshire. It is known for having incredibly wild weather and holding the record for the highest wind gust measured at the Earth’s surface, 231 mph on April 12, 1934. Before Europeans arrived, it was known as Agiocochook.
First seen in 1524 by Giovanni da Verrazzano, it was first ascended in 1642 by Darby Field (for whom Mt. Field is named for). The Crawford Path was laid out in 1819, providing access to the summit. In 1861, a stagecoach road was placed for the summit (which was turned into the Mount Washington Auto Road) and in 1869 the Cog Railway was created.
One of the silliest things I’ve done in my life is to pick up a book entitled “Not Without Peril”; I did this on the first night of a 20 mile hike through the White Mountains and was fascinated by the ways that people have died on Mt. Washington. Some were quite simple, people wandering off trail or trying to summit in storms…other people have died in very unique ways, the ones who died by drowning caught my attention. Apparently, someone has also been murdered on the mountain in 2001.
I would strongly suggest not picking the book up before going on a hike through the Whites, but it is a good read overall.
In honor of my hike this weekend, I thought I would do a post a day about Mt. Washington. Today’s post: The Cog Railway.
A cog railway has a toothed rack rail and is named a cog because it has one or more cog wheels that mesh with the rack rail. Because of this, it is able to operate on steep gradients.
The first cog was in England in 1812 and the first in America was the Mount Washington Cog Railway in 1868.
While this train has been a source of endless joy and excitement for passengers, for hikers it is a totally different story. The train’s whistle is a constant companion as you hike up the mountain and plumes of smoke can be seen as you go up certain trails. The worst part, however, is when you get to the top and are all tired and excited to be on top of the summit and have to wait for people who took the train to take their pictures on top of the marker to take your own.
There is something satisfying about moving around these people with your stinky and large backpack and get stared at by people. Last Wed, we were hiking up Cannon and someone was saying on the trail “You wouldn’t want to hike all the way down there!” just as I was coming onto the trail. Several looks were given to us as we slogged on to the tower…I’m sure we’ll get some more this weekend, especially if it is raining.
Finally can cross off a new summit from my 4,000 footer list! Thank god. Actually, there were many representatives for God on the mountain today as we were climbing with about 80 seminarians from around the world. It was slightly weird, but they were all very polite and eager to get up the mountain. Thankfully, though, they took the tram down or continued along the trail.
Its good, because then they (and no one else) got to see the Boy scrapped his knee and my pathetic attempts to apply first aid. AND they did not get to see my feet slide out from under me as I went ass first into a nice solid (and do I mean solid!) specimen of New England rock. I think I will have quite an interesting bruise and no running for the next few days.
Here it is, in the negative temperatures in Boston and all I can think about is the next time I get to climb Mount Washington. Its become a bit of an obsession for me. I’ve been up 4 times, twice on a charity hike for a women’s shelter here in Boston (each one 20 miles long), once on a 20 mile hike with my boyfriend, and the last time with my boy again hiking to raise funds for the Observatory.
It took me 4 tries, 2 of them sleeping over at Lakes of the Clouds Hut, to see anything from the summit. And it was totally worth it.
We’ve already planned at least one trip back up to the summit together this year, probably for Seek the Peak (The charity hike for the Observatory), and the boy is going sledding down Tuckerman’s Ravine again this April for the Inferno. But, National Geographic just put out a beautiful 12 photo spread about the Obs and has a huge article on it in the Feb. issue about the mountain and the Obs. Cannot wait to pick up a copy and drool over the photos. My favorite is below…the landscape there in the summer is so weird at times, in the winter its even more stunning.