Saturday, July 19, 2014

Washington 7/17/14

Working title: How to cripple three people for the price of one

Peaks: Mt. Washington (6288')

Trails: Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, Crawford Path, Trinity Heights Connector, Gulfside, Jewell Trail

Mileage/time: 9.7 miles, 4094' of gain, book time of 6:52, actual time of 10:07

New red-lining miles: 2

A couple of months ago, my mother told me that she wanted to climb Mt. Washington before she was too old to do it. When meeting my parents, my mother invited Shanna along, and my father invited himself. We rose early, and met my parents at their house... and they offered to drive! Reaching the trailhead, we got ready, and started up at about 8:15.

The lower Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail (which I later found out used to start at the Cog) follows along, and crosses, a brook or two, before meeting up with the original trail about 0.3 miles from the Cog Base Station. Grades are easy, and we were taking it slow, the pace being dictated by my parents.

Reaching Monroe Brook, we began the climb alongside it. Clouds were still clinging to the ridge, and cool temperatures prevailed. Just before Gem Pool, we saw a juvenile red squirrel on the trail, laying there, alive, but somewhat twitching. Then we came upon Gem Pool, where we had a snack, and took a break before the climbing commenced.

Looking up the ravine from the bank of Monroe Brook

A poor little red squirrel

Gem Pool

Let the climbing begin! My mom definitely wasn't a huge fan of this part, but the many waterfalls along the way helped matters. All the while, my dad was out front, out of sight for the most part. He had sprained his ankle a couple of weeks ago, and was schedule to go to PT the next day. We joked about how he'd go in there and say something like, "I hiked Mt. Washington yesterday and smoked my son, his girlfriend, and my wife!". A steady pace kept our upward momentum going, and we soon broke treeline, shortly reached the hut, where we took a much deserved rest.

Dartmouth and Deception, with Cherry Mountain beyond

That's my dad!

Mountain Avens (Geum peckii)

Looking up to Washington

Mon-ho (-roe)

Hanging out in the dining room at Lakes, we ate and rested, for the climb of the summit cone lay before us. The rule of thumb is this; what looks close, isn't. I mentioned to my parents on the climb, that there was the possibility of descending via the Cog or shuttle on the Auto Road. My group defected, opting to take the Cog if it was available. Turncoats, all of them.

The summit of Washington isn't an easy climb from any direction, and is a consistent pounding no matter how you slice it. My mom had a difficult time with it, and I took her poles and pack for her on the last stretch. Coincidentally, we ran into Michael and Monica (who I'll be backpacking in the Adirondacks with next week), along with Joe and Steve (who I had not met before)... can't take me anywhere in the mountains!

Summiting, we waited in line for a picture at the top... which the people behind us took, and I don't think they knew what to do with a manual focus camera.


Washington over the upper Lake of the Clouds

Monroe and the spread of peaks to the south

Cone (with towers)

View south over the Dry River Valley


After checking out the views from the observation deck, we retreated inside, out of the chill and the winds. While on the deck, we had smelled cinnamon rolls cooking... and all had a hankering. Sadly, the cinnamon rolls were a lie. The girl in the cafeteria area looked at us like we had three heads! Checking into the Cog, there were only two seats available on the downbound train, so Shanna opted (with much reservation) to descend the Jewell with me.

My parents train was leaving the summit at 3:10, and it was already 2:30, so we got back to the trail. Clouds streamed over the summit, which was right about at cloud level most of the day. The going was slow, and soon I put Shanna in front, and let her go at a pace that was most comfortable for her. During the descent, we had fantastic views into the Great Gulf, and to the surrounding peaks. I love me some alpine zone action!

Descending the cone

The Twins and Franconias in the distance

Great Gulf

Ascending Cog

Mt. Clay


Jefferson, Adams, and Madison

Turning onto the Jewell, we continued our slow descent. In retrospect, I should have called my dad's cell phone just to let him know where we were at. Instead, they had about a 2 hour wait at the trailhead, worrying about us. Thankfully, a couple that had passed us told them where we were at, and that we were behind them on our way down. I told them we'd be SLOW!

Caps Ridge on Mt. Jefferson

Monroe and Eisenhower

Crepuscular rays

Heading into Conway, we stopped at Mae Kelley's Cottage and had (WAY) too much delicious food! My mom made me drive back, and after dropping them off, I dropped Shanna off and made my way slowly to bed. Four hours of sleep would not be enough for the next days plan!

Super proud of my parents for making the summit, even if taking the Cog down goes against everything I believe in! I'm glad I could do this for them. Also, I'm very proud of Shanna for joining me for the whole hike!


  1. I'm surprised you didn't give your parents the full treatment. You know, hardly any sleep the night before, long drive to the trailhead, getting on trail at the crack of dawn (or earlier). It's good for parents to know what their kids are up to.

    1. My mom did say something like, "what, are you trying to collect your inheritance early?". They know what I'm up to, but now they KNOW what I'm up to.