Mount Washington – June 15, 2018
As another aspect of this adventure blog, I figured I’d detail Maverick and my adventures through New Hampshire as well. For the next few months, this will be the only entry on this topic but I wanted to write about our hike up Mount Washington while it was still fresh in my mind.
This Friday, Maverick, my friend Denise, and I took on the tallest peak in New Hampshire – the legendary amount Washington. I will be honest, I hadn’t originally planned to do Washington. I had actually looked up to just do Mount Monroe. And then I saw how it was right next to Washington and thought “oh maybe if we’re feeling ambitious we’ll do both peaks” since I like to peak bag when I can. Clearly, that didn’t happen.My plan was to hike Thursday and if I had just looked at southern New Hampshire’s weather where I live, I probably would have picked Thursday as the day to go. But I know better than to think anything north of Franconia Notch will resemble the weather at home. Sure enough, it was supposed to rain all Thursday but be nice Friday. The complete opposite of Chester, New Hampshire. According to the weather channel, the rain on Friday would clear out by 8 am and it would be a beautiful day.
So off we went, on our first 4,000 footer of the summer bright and early at 6 am. To drive the two and a half hours up to the base of Mount Washington in endless rain. I’m sure Denise was questioning what exactly she had signed up for. Getting to the base of the cog railway, the rain finally let up as we geared up to make the trek up the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail to Lakes of the Clouds Hut. The fog prevailed though, and everything was damp and misty around us for most of the trail. Denise commented how it felt like we were in a scene straight out of Twilight and it did indeed feel a lot like the Pacific Northwest. The first mile or so of trail was really simple, but showed a lot of damage from the storms of last fall with lots of blow downs and washouts since the trail hugs the Ammonoosuc River so closely. And then, according to the White Mountain AMC guide, the trail began to “ascend steeply”. Boy, did it ever. Stone stair after stone stair after stone stair and yet Maverick kept bounding ahead as if he was unfazed.
When we got to the almost a mile portion of rock slabs and ledges, I had an internal panic attack. We were still in thick mist and the rocks were soaked and slippery. I questioned if we should turn back and worst case scenarios ran through my head: what if Maverick slips? What if he gets to close to an edge? What if he falls and hurts himself? And the very obvious…what if he falls and dies? Because though ledges over 4,000 feet up are no joke. How would I live with myself if I put him in that position just “for fun”?? And yet, Maverick was the most sure-footed of all of us. He continues to amaze me every single day we’re together.
Despite my guide claiming the trail would “ease”, there was definitely no easing. The fog and clouds stayed heavy even once we finally reached Lakes of the Clouds hut and took a quick rest outside where we got to chat with a couple of guys who were thru hiking the AT. And then, just like that, blue shined through. The clouds moved past. And suddenly we were sitting in the midst of a wide open sky with views all around us. The next 1.4 mile trek up to the summit of Mount Washington was in awe at the natural beauty all around us. It’s something you just have to experience to understand. Pictures can never do it justice.
The last 0.5 miles were the worst. I had never hiked a mountain that was so difficult. Even Maverick was showing signs of fatigue, yet he kept pushing on leading us onward and upward and then finally, FINALLY, we were at the summit. I may have never hiked something so hard, but I had never felt so accomplished before either.
I won’t lie, we did cheat a bit. We managed to catch the Cog at the summit and ride it back down to where we were conveniently parked only a short 0.4 miles down the road. All in all, it was nothing short of an amazing day. It was so challenging and so rewarding and also so good to do before El Camino because I know if we can hike that, we can get through any day in Spain.