Continued from the previous page.
FORGOT ABOUT SO MANY ROCKS, TOO
I also didn't remember that the A.T. in the southern Presidential Range is mostly
a continuous bunch of rocks. I do remember that the northern Presies are
even worse and that's why I will probably never hike them again.
I used two trekking poles, which helped both uphill and down. In a few
places I also had to use my hands/arms to go up and over some rock formations,
and go backwards to slide down some descents. There was a lot of smooth
bedrock that was dry, fortunately, and thousands of boulders and
There were even some iron L-shaped bars. I have no idea how you're
supposed to use those going up or down:
Even though rocky trails are a pain to hike I'm always drawn to the
beauty of colorful rocks, especially when they have moss or lichens
growing on them. There are plenty such rocks in the New England
Here are close-ups of two large boulders on the ridge:
And here are more photos between Mts. Eisenhower and Franklin:
Heading down again to a pass between the peaks
More clouds building up over Mt. Washington and the
northern Presie peaks
Just follow the cairns . . . Monroe (L) and
Washington (center) get closer and closer.
You can't really see them in this small photo --
there are two people silhouetted on Monroe's summit.
Mt. Washington's summit (R) is still visible but
playing hide and seek in the fast-moving clouds.
Looking back south toward Mts. Franklin and Eisenhower from Monroe;
it's getting more cloudy in that direction, too.
SCENIC LAKE OF THE CLOUDS
Despite the various trail challenges I had a really good time today. I
tried hard to get to Mt. Washington's summit before 2 PM, which is when
there was a 20% chance of rain per NOAA.
The only stop I had was about 20 minutes at the Lake of the Clouds hut
below Mt. Washington. These photos show the approach to the hut, which I
also visited in 2005 on the A.T. Adventure run:
Contouring around the NE side of Monroe,
Washington's summit is still visible to the north.
This is probably the most popular hut along the
A.T. in the Whites because of the spectacular views and its proximity to
It is also the easiest hut to reach, as it sits
just 1.4 miles below Washington's summit. Most hut visitors drive up the
Mt. Washington Rd., park at the summit overnight, and walk down to the hut. Some
others hike farther in from various side trails in the valleys to the east or west.
I got a bowl of corn chowder -- still only $2 for all the soup
you want -- and had
to wait about 10 minutes for the "croo" to heat it up. I got to the hut at 12:30
(five hours) and hadn't had anything except espresso Hammergel to eat
until then. I had plenty of food in my pack but I wasn't hungry till
I just love the views
of all the ponds near this hut. I took these photos after I left the hut and
continued north (all uphill) to Mt. Washington's summit:
View across pond to Mt. Washington's summit, where
you can see communication and weather towers.
Looking SW to the Lake of the Clouds hut (under
and mountains on the western side of Crawford
Looking more directly south to Mt. Monroe; the hut
is to the right behind the lake.
ASCENT TO THE SUMMIT OF MT. WASHINGTON
The hike from the hut to the summit is 1.4 miles of rough uphill walking
or running, if you're in great shape. Even when I was younger I would
have had trouble with my footing on all the rocks, as you'll see in the
rest of the photos in this section. It's a pile of rocks most of the way
I wasn't in a big
hurry today, however, so I stopped often to take pictures in front of
and behind me.
There were more people on the trail this morning the closer I got to the Lake of the
Clouds hut, and even more between there and Washington's summit:
middle-aged couple in front of me on the way to Mt. Washington
to Mts. Monroe and Franklin after passing the couple
The trail between the hut and the summit wasn't nearly as crowded as
the weekend day I climbed up from the south when I did the A.T. trek,
though. That's one reason I wanted to go on a weekday this time.
The sky was mostly sunny until about a mile from the summit.
I could see clouds moving in and out over the top of Mt. Washington all
morning, as can be seen in my photos on the previous page.
It's hard enough to follow the trail on this ascent
on a clear day;
it would be very difficult if it was fogged
in at this elevation.
These teenage boys were the only hikers that passed
me going up to the summit from the hut.
As I neared the summit of Mt. Washington I turned
and noticed that
the tops of Mts. Monroe and Franklin were also
getting socked in.
More hikers a quarter mile from the summit of Mt.
The summit was totally socked in when I reached it, making it more
tricky to follow what passes for a "trail" over all the rocks.
The fog didn't really bother either one of us, though, because the two
times we were up there in 2005 it was sunny and clear. We'd already seen
the panoramic views from the summit.
Besides, I like hiking in mountains when the clouds are coming in
and out; they add interest to the hike and the photos.
The NOAA prediction for wind was 20-25 MPH on the summit today. It was
more than that, with gusts between 30-40 MPH when we were there. Some of the
passes and western slopes of the other peaks were pretty windy, too.
The thermometer at the summit read 47 F. when I got up there. It was in
the mid-70s down in the valleys.
It was warm enough that I was comfortable all day in convertible pants,
a long-sleeved technical running shirt, and a lightweight burgundy
fleece ATY race jacket. I had gloves, a wool sweatband, and a Marmot
rain jacket in my pack but didn't need any of that.
Almost there, although it's hard to
tell with all the fog;
I had to really concentrate to find each successive
We were hoping our cell phones would work better now than nine years ago
-- not so much. I was able to reach Jim about halfway through the
hike to let him know my progress and estimated time at Washington summit
(he drove up with the dogs after going back to the camper for a while).
We both tried a few other times to connect but didn't until I reached
the Lake of the Clouds hut.
That wasn't a problem today but could have been if something had
happened to change either of our plans. We have to keep spotty cell
coverage in mind for the other hikes I want to do in the Whites.
Jim got to the trailhead on the summit about half an hour before me.
Because of the clouds he couldn't see me coming up as far away as he did
nine years ago. This is one of the pictures he took of me as I emerged
from the fog:
We found each other easily, then went over to the summit cairn to get
our picture taken by another hiker:
We "passed it on," as Jim took a photo of the next group in line.
Considering how foggy it was, there were a couple hundred people milling
around on the summit and in the visitor center.
There are several buildings on the summit, including the old gray
weathered stage house shown at the beginning of this entry, the Tip Top
House (below), and the visitor center.
There is a new display in the visitor center about the extreme weather on Mt.
Washington. Entrance for one person is included in the basic $28 fee to
drive up the mountain. If I'd been in the truck going up, there would
have been an additional fee because of the museum.
I should have been charged $5 entry to the museum but the nice young
woman collecting tickets let me in free after I told her how long I'd
been hiking to get there.
Although we already knew about the extreme weather on this mountain it
was interesting to see some of the old equipment used to measure wind
velocity, temperatures, and depth of snow.
The exhibit I liked the most was an interactive video showing panoramic
views of the nearby peaks at different times of the year. At another
interactive exhibit visitors can "drive" a snow machine along the Mt.
Washington Road when it's covered in several feet of snow.
Before heading to the truck Jim took this picture of me below the summit
cairn with a tall wooden hiker statue and a sign about the historic
At 5'9" tall (maybe a bit less now), I don't usually look
this short next to someone else!
Jim took the next photo in the parking lot while he was waiting for me:
When I downloaded it to the computer my first thought was, "Why
bother??" Maybe they could see more than I could!
Even though I rode up to Mt. Washington's summit on Day 126 and down on
Day 120 nine years ago during my A.T. thru-hike, I didn't remember
the scenery along the seven-mile road today. Yes, it seemed new to me,
just like much of the trail today.
I went up to the
ridge from the west side, Crawford Notch. The road to the summit is on
the east side of the ridge, Pinkham Notch.
It was foggy just below the parking area but cleared more as we
descended to the valley. The part I could see above treeline reminded
me of the road on Pike's Peak, with terrific views to the north and
Hikers at an overlook part way down the road
Part of the
road is dirt, part paved.
It was still partly sunny in the valley when we got down to Pinkham
As you can see from the photos,
the Mt. Washington road is very narrow -- too narrow to allow
bikes to go up or down. Jim was hoping he could ride it down today but
we found out online that bikes aren't permitted except in two or three
official races so he didn't take his bike to the summit.
Note that there is a
third way to get to the top of Mt. Washington -- a cog railway up
the west side from Crawford Notch.
It wasn't up at the
summit while we were there today. I took this picture on the summit on
a very sunny day in late August, 2005 after my hike to the summit on Day
Since we went down the Pinkham Notch side of the mountain the ride back to
the campground was longer than it was to the trailhead in the morning.
We drove through the town of Gorham and back to our campground in Twin
Mountain. We didn't remember any of that, either,
although we drove the same route in 2005 to get to the campground where
we stayed then (Zealand Falls).
On the way home we looked for trailheads to the Presidential Rail Trail
that runs from Gorham to a little airport north of Twin Mountain.
Some of it looks good -- mowed grass or gravel -- and some is
overgrown with weeds.
The shoulder on US 3 and NH 115 north of the campground was wide enough
for Jim to ride about four miles to the western end of the trail. He rode
various parts of the rail trail several times while we were in the area.
I never rode on it but took photos from a couple of the trailheads.
This was a good
confidence-building day for me. When I got done my main thought was,
"Now, what other gnarly White Mountain trails can I tackle??"
Next entry: fun with friends in Franconia Notch --
The Flume Gorge, The Basin, the black bear show and other activities at
Clark's Trading Post
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil