Sunday, September 12, 2010

Highpoint: New Hampshire. Mt Washington (6288 ft). Also, Mt. Monroe. Sept 9-11, 2010

Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, Crawford Path, Mt. Monroe Loop.
About 11 miles roundtrip.

Sage has been asking to climb Mt. Washington for months. She isn't yet ready to ascend New Hampshire's highest mountain in one day, and I'm not sure she could happily do it in two, so I booked a couple of nights at Lakes of the Clouds. I figured we'd hike up to the hut on Day One, ascend Washington on Day Two, and head back to the car on Day Three.

Day One (September 9th) arrived, and we set out on the trail. Mt. Washington's Higher Summit Forecast called for a cold, wet and windy day, so we donned full winter clothing and prepared ourselves for a watery slog to the hut.

The first mile went quickly, albeit all three of us felt as though we were swimming as opposed to walking...

During the second mile, we passed the sad reminder that one does not have to be above treeline to die of hypothermia...

Two hours after leaving the car, we arrived at Gem Pool, that lovely oasis that rests at the bottom of the final (steep!) mile.

We didn't stop long to rest -- it was the kind of day where one needed to keep moving in order to stay warm. We had winter mindsets -- layers, going slowly but steadily, lots of snacks while walking, lots of water. Our clothing did its job, the three of us felt warm and dry all the way up.

Wet slabs!!!

Wet alpine zone!

Wet everything!

Since the Ammonoosuc is sheltered, we didn't feel the wind until that last tenth of exposed mile just before the hut. But that last tenth -- yikes! I felt for anyone trying to hike above treeline. It was NOT a day for a newbie to be out there, unless that newbie was guided. Classic case of the mountains ignoring the calendar summer.

Though our hike up was enjoyable in spite of the weather (there was lots of singing involved), we were happy to reach the hut.

We walked into the hut and saw that quite a few people had ventured out unprepared. The hut croo seemed to have their hands full taking care of hypothermic hikers. One of the ladies eyed us as we entered and asked me if we needed any dry clothing. I assured her we were fine, then the girls and I stripped off our wet outer layers, changed our socks, and settled in for the evening.

The next morning we awoke to more of the same. Well, almost the same -- at least there wasn't any steady, cold, pouring rain. After checking the forecast and double-checking the hours of the summit buildings, we donned another multitude of dry layers, put on our rain and winter shells, and ventured forth.

The "Beware" sign...

This picture sums up our views for the day...

Up toward the summit buildings, which are there in the fog somewhere...

...and, we made it! Sage was so happy and proud of herself.

Everything was enveloped in cloud.

We entered the snack area and the girls devoured a couple of whoopie pies while I checked our layers. We were all dry except for our gloves. Sage's hands run hot, so I wasn't concerned about her. Alex, however, has a problem with her fingers going numb very quickly. I decided to give her one of my dry glove layers and buy extra hand warmers at the gift shop, just in case. On the way back down, her hands did get cold, but by wiggling her fingers she was able to stay relatively comfortable.

We saw only two groups of people on the way back to the hut -- a man with two boys who were probably about 12 and 9 years old (they looked well-prepared and all three were going strong) and a couple, also well-prepared and looking well. This was not a day for beginners, and I wasn't surprised that we had the trail mostly to ourselves on the way back.

Here we are near one of the's in the photo somewhere...

The wind was gusting now, but it was at our backs and we felt strong enough to tackle Monroe. We talked about it as we neared the hut, but I decided it would be better to wait and tag it the next day before heading down to the car. It was supposed to be sunny and warmer in the morning, and it would be nice if Sage could get some real views during this trip. So back into the hut we went.

The next morning (September the 11th), we awoke to a different world...

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Sun, warmer temperatures, no rain or fog (!), and just plain pleasantness. After a yummy breakfast, the girls and I happily headed toward Monroe.

After a brief climb up the summit cone, we arrived at the peak. The girls posed for a picture (Washington's in the background).


Kids and views!

The day was so bright and Mt. Franklin was just...over...there...and Alex and I could use it for the Trailwrights list...we easily convinced Sage to go the extra few tenths of a mile.

EDIT (8/26/2012) - We did NOT summit Franklin on this trip.  We actually summited the smaller peak of Mt. Monroe...oops.  We came back and got Franklin on 8/22/2012 -- click here for the trip report).

On Mt. Franklin, with Mt. Monroe in the background.  Oops! See the above EDIT.



We stopped back at the hut before descending the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. Alex and Sage wrote their names in the dirt, just outside the entrance.

Hard to believe this is the same trail we ascended two days ago. The sun makes a lot of difference.

Mt. Washington from the upper part of the trail.

We got back down to the car in a few short hours.

Nicely done, Sage -- she's now done six "official" 4Ks.  'Twas a nice three days of peakbagging.


unstrung said...

and what a great experience to have clouds one day and sun the next. each has its charm! kudos on being so super-well prepared with all the right gear to keep everyone in good spirits. beautiful pics of a beautiful adventure.

Patricia Ellis Herr, Alexandra Herr, and Sage Herr said...

Hi Unstrung, thanks for your comments. We had a good time in both the rain and the sun...I agree, the right gear makes all the difference!

See you on the trails,