Saturday, July 22, 2006

Mount Washington #115

Well, on Saturday I finished the Northeast 115 on top of Mount Washington with Emily.  We drove up Friday night with my Aunt Sue and my mom to the Schoolhouse Motel in North Conway for the night.  We got up early at around 8am and had breakfast at the Blueberry Muffin restaurant before heading to the trailhead.  On the way I stopped at EMS for a map of the Mount Washington area and was told by the guy at the counter that there was only a 20% chance of rain for the day which sounded fine with me.

We started hiking around 10:30am under cloudy skies through the forest.  This was literally Emily's first time climbing a mountain ever.  She had driven to the top of Mount Washington when she was a kid with her grandpa who used to be a race car driver (what an experience that must have been going that fast up the Mount Washington Highway with no guard rails!).   I Eisenhower_monroe_washington_72206_004
slowed my usual pace down but just a little because she was keeping up with my easily.  I knew that she would be a strong climber because of her athletic soccer background.  The entire time climbing we could hear the cog railway train blowing it's horn up the side of Mount Washington.  I kept telling Emily she would like it more once we got above treeline and when we hit the ridge and could see the alpine terrain and Mount Washington I was right... she was blown away by it.  She said it reminded her of the hills of Ireland.  It was about 10 to 20 degrees colder on the ridge due to the wind so I I had Emily stay in a col out of the wind and put on her jacket while I literally ran up Mt. Eisenhower to take a quick picture of myself on the clouded-in summit. 

    Clouds were beginning to really build over Mount Washington so we continued on over Mt. Franklin to the summit of Mt. Monroe which was completely immersed in the clouds.  We had some great views of the slopes of Washington and could even see the train climbing the cog railway billowing smoke the entire way (see pic above).  There were some steep drops to theEisenhower_monroe_washington_72206_011
east side of the ridge and we could literally watch the clouds blow into the valley below and then blast up the steep walls of the ridge to where we were.  Check out a video from the ridge HERE.  If you stood on the edge the wind was 45-50mph gusts but when you stepped back from the edge of the ridge you could barely feel anything.  The soaked clouds rushed up so fast that they condensed into rain droplets which fell on us in a light drizzle.  I knew that there was an AMC hut and the Lake of the Clouds between Monroe and Washington but I didn't tell Emily because I wanted to suprise her.  I felt really bad Eisenhower_monroe_washington_72206_023
that we didn't have he views I had hoped so much for but she seemed to really be enjoying herself walking over the ridge.  In a way, it was actually nice because we would have been dying from heat if it was sunny and 95 degrees instead.  When we descended Monroe and finally broke out from under the layer of clouds we could see the beautiful lake and alpine AMC hut.  Emily was really impressed by it the views. 

We chilled inside the hut for a little bit and ate some snacks before heading up the slopes of Mount Washington to meet my mom and aunt at 3:30.  As soon as we left the hut and climbed around the Lake it began to rain... I mean really rain...  like standing under a shower head.  ItEisenhower_monroe_washington_72206_034
was a warm rain and we only had about a mile to go hiking and 1,000 feet of climbing but it still sucked..  By the time we got to the summit we were both completely soaked from head to toe and the wind was so strong that the rain drops felt like darts hiting our eyes.  We were lucky to have worn baseball caps so that we could deflect most of them.  We were also lucky to have my GPS again because without it we may not have been able to navigate safely in the clouds above treeline.  On the final feet of the ascent we could smell the smoke of the cog railway even though we couldn't see more than 20 feet in any direction.

When we got to the summit we took a few quick pictures before heading into the summit restaurant for some hot chili and to wait for my mom.  Half an hour after we got there she wandered in a little wet with her umbrella in hand happy to see that we were both safe. Eisenhower_monroe_washington_72206_038
Apparently my aunt was near coma in fright from the foggy blinding drive up the dangerous auto road so we decided to quickly leave.  As my mom was walking back to her car her umbrella turned completely inside out from the wind which was hilarious... Emily was laughing her ass off as my mom went screamind down the stairs to her car in the pelting rain and wind... hahaha.  My mom is good natured and thought it was funny as well.   It was a very rainy, foggy, wet way down from there. 

After the hike we stopped at EMS briefly to check out a sale but didn't find much.  We also stopped for dinner at a seafood restaurant called "Jonathon's" oddly enough for a good seafood dinner.  I drove the entire way home from there and apparently scared the crap out of my aunt.  I really wasn't going that fast and my mom and Emily were both able to fall asleep but I guess my aunt is a nervous driver.  It didn't help that I got pulled over in Whitehall because I was going 45 in a 30 by accident.  The cop let me go without checking anything. 

When we got back I quickly said goodbye to my mom and my aunt who looked like a wreck and headed back to Saratoga for some drinking.  I ended up going out with Mike and Emily and meeting up with Mike Caldwell and a bunch of Wheatfields employees at Gaffneys.  It was a great end to my very rainy birthday! 

On the way home we found a kid face down on the cement steps of the Post Office downtown.  Emily and didn't want him to get arrested so we woke him up and for some reason he began Cimg5025
following us.  When he followed us up Van Dam Street Emily got nervous but I wasn't worried because he was so drunk he was almost falling over walking.  We went upto my place and I locked the door before we began getting ready for bed, then the knocking began.... I went to the door, opened it and he was standing right on our porch.  He said very drunkenly, "hey, is this the party... ? I think I'm supposed to crash here..." Hahahaha... wow, was he gone... I kindly told him no and he mumbled a drunken apology before wandering down the stairs to who knows where... haha.  Funny ending to the night.


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