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.
Next weekend, the Boy and I will join hundreds of others on a climb up Mount Washington as part of a fundraiser for the Mount Washington Observatory. In April of 1934, the fastest surface wind gust in the world (231 MPH) was recorded there…I’ve seen the graph in person and it is just crazy.
I am $40 from the next level of fund raising and would love to be able to hit that mark, if you would be willing to support me I would be very appreciative. The link is here.
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.
I really wish I could go hiking up along the ridgeline right now. Just get away from all this crap here and go out to the mountain where all that matters is putting one step in front of the other fast enough to get a good bunk at the hut and a seat at the dinner table. Preferably near the bread, since that is one of the best parts about the AMC huts.
It is actually one of my goals in life to own one of these signs. Each year, the Appalachian Mountain Club has an auction of “gently worn” signs as a fundraiser. I found out about it too late last year, but this year I am ready! I only hope that one of the signs will be for a trail that I’ve gone up. It isn’t a requirement, but it would be cool. However, if I can get a sign that is of a trail I’ve never been on, then I think a trip in the spring is necessary.