Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hiking in the White Mountains

John had a long weekend available over the 4th of July, so we decided to take the opportunity (and brave the holiday crowds) and go to the White Mountains for some hiking.  We have been wanting to climb Mount Washington and experience the Whites after hearing many good things.  White Birches campground outside Gorham had a tent spot available so we were on our way.

Up early on Friday, at the Pinkham Notch parking lot, with chai latte and ready to roll:

Maybe need a little more caffeine this morning... somehow, John can sleep here:

Beautiful cascade to start the morning:

Ah, sunshine!

We could see a big cloud blowing over the top of Mount Washington.  It was quite an interesting perspective, with sun in the valley and a big white ceiling moving over us.  So yes, we're heading up there...

Back there looks nice:

Up there - not so much:

Tuckerman Ravine and a really pretty bowl with water flowing down all the rocks:

Yep, still nice in the other direction:

It felt so much like Colorado, really a wonderful reminder of those mountains except we could breathe better here.  I was very happy.

One piece of snow remaining - I always seem to locate a little bit of snow in July just for John  :)  I'm not so sure he appreciates it though.

Mountain flowers:

We climbed up above the bowl and into the cloud.  It didn't take long before deciding we needed to don jackets and warmer headwear.  The wind wasn't too bad on this side of the hill, at least.

We followed large cairns and climbed for a while in the mist.

Out of nowhere a car went by just above us - I guess we're near the top!

How did we get so close to the summit and not know it?

The experience continued as the wind hit us hard near the top.  We climbed up to the summit sign and hung onto it to take some pictures, trying not to get blown away.  I hope the sign is sturdy, I'm sure we're not the first to use it as an anchor:

Lots  --  of  --  wind  ! ! !

Love this one:

We quickly found the entrance to the summit building and hustled in.  Wow, that was something!  Welcome to Mt. Washington State Park - the worst weather in the world.

Time for a hot chocolate warmer-upper, mmm:

John noticed this display of the wind speed - over 40 mph at that moment, 60 mph max in the previous 15 minutes (we might have been in it!).  At least it was slowing a bit since the overnight hours.  We were pretty excited to get to experience this.  And then to come inside.

We hoped to hike over to a couple more of the presidential peaks along the ridge to the north.  It wasn't certain whether the blowing mist would accompany us the whole way, but we decided to give it a try.  Initially there was a lot of wind on the way down to the AT, then it let up a bit as we continued downhill.  Crazy weather on the top of that mountain.

We heard rumblings and got to see the cog railway train come through - hello!


We diverged from the Gulfside Trail to go over the top of Mount Clay and then along toward Jefferson.  Eventually there was even a view below the cloud, nice!

Still windy, especially in the cols.

Practicing the Summit Pose:

On top of Mount Jefferson amid lots of rocks.

Rocks, rocks, more rocks.  It was slow going but entertaining.

Look, over there - ?

Another nice view:

I believe this is heading down toward Edmands Col:

A cairn with a white rock on top - seemed to be the thing along here.

A nice look at the ridge ahead:

Climbing more rocks, this time up to Mount Adams:

The weather got nicer and nicer as we went along:

Looking at Madison Spring Hut and Mount Madison beyond it:

One last big climb up Madison, excellent climbing today.

I asked John, "so what do you think?" and he gave me this pose:

Whenever we got a glimpse back toward Mount Washington we would check it out.  Most of the day it was still in that same blowing cloud.  Right as we were on the way down the Osgood Trail off Mount Madison, we looked over to actually see the Mount Washington summit!  Yay!

It was a long, steep descent, first down a rocky ridge, then down a narrow trail in the trees.  I wasn't excited about it, and I was moving slowly, but eventually we got to the cutoff trail and things got better.

One of the many brooks in the Great Gulf Wilderness:

Nice bridge:

We followed the AT along the Madison Gulf Trail, over creeks and across some mud (but nothing too bad).  The hike was taking quite a bit longer than I had guessed it might, at least we had carried some extra food and plenty of water (and there were plenty of water sources along the way).  We crossed the auto road and even ran a ways on the smooth trail called Old Jackson Road.

Finally the notch and our truck.  Wow, that was quite a day!

And I got to add another entry to our high points page:

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