Adventure Journals: Mt. Washington, NH
Updated: Nov 11, 2021
Adventure Journal: MT. Washington
The Quick Escape- A climb to the Top of the East Coasts Highest Peak
The sky is a faded purple glaze with the sun fighting to break free from the grey. The morning dew colors the rocks a darker shade and brings an heir of coolness to the world. Awoken from little true sleep, but with the energy and vigor to explore. The pups scramble around the mountain peak absorbed in the moment of pure freedom and bliss; tongues loosely dangling from their smiling mouths as they pounce from boulder to boulder. The cairns are stacked high nearly every hundred feet to keep hikers on the known “path”; their rigid standing creating a sense of security in an otherwise abandoned void of occlusion. The very principle of hiking backcountry to escape; unbound by the constraints of the traditional touristic day trip, sandal wearing, picnic going regular goers. No, this sense of adventure lures the daring individual to pursue heights and scenes unprecedented. A sense of freedom and isolation unlike anything else; terrifying and tranquilizing all in one. One mistake, or run-in with Murphy, and it may end the very life amplified by the vigorous travels. I look out and am enchanted by the silhouette of mountain peaks in every direction. My thoughts range from the meaning of life and the prolific enjoyment of being in this moment when I find myself looking back at where I once stood -my knee aching in pain, head throbbing, and I’m swearing out into the open mist only for it only to be absorbed by the wild air…
It’s 7am, a late start for a long trip, but it’s always nice to drive with the sunrise. The skyline exploding in an orange sherbet array with a welcomed warmth as the world begins to awake. I need a getaway; I’m craving the taste of open air and green topped tree lines. I throw the essentials into my pack — some layers, my cumbersome sleeping bag, Nalgene’s, and some snacks. Just like that the pups hop into the Dodge and we’re on our way with aspirations of being at the base of the easts toted Washington Peak. The ominous weather and reputation alluring and captivating all in one awaits us in about eight hours of consistent driving. The scenery ranges from vacant fields, decrepit farmhouses, and shifting shades of colors popping in the trees from New York , Vermont, and New Hampshire. We break at a gas station adjacent to the final bridge connecting Vermont and New Hampshire at the foothills of the White Mountains, the excitement is rekindled after the toiling drive and we decide on a burger as a last meal before the ascent; Jae and JFK happily oblige in this pre hike treat. After another hour on the road we promptly arrive at the trailhead parking and begin the climb of Tuckermans Ravine at 4pm with little daylight left we walk deliberately- sweat pouring down nearly every pore. Each passerby, walking down naturally, looks upon me and the girls with great inquisition — we’re clearly going the wrong way for this time of day. The climb is riddled in roots and rocks leaving little room for error and much concern for ankles. I haven’t been without shortage of air since the hike begin — the aggressive incline and precarious passageway makes for great cardio. The path settled between endless greens and oranges scattered as far as my eyes can see; we cross streams of cold flowing water- the epitome of natures soundtrack singing against every rock and obstacle its body passes. The sun is cresting on the horizon, its colorful sky shifting audiences, as we approach the lodge at the base of the final — and most dubious- climb the night begins to welcome us. The stairway of natural rocks escort us to the final mile where we climb, jump, and crawl our way up from boulder to boulder. We reach the Mount Washington summit as the moon replaced the sun entirely and her stars lit up the sky in every direction. The bright sequins dot the black back drop and the air cools to a frigid wind. We find a patch of dirt against a large boulder and pull out my sleeping bag; I change to dry cloths and begin to replace my drenched layers. JFK immediately crawls to the bottom of the sleeping bag — she makes a great foot warmer. Jae lays across my chest and places her neck on top of mine, I like to think she was trying to mitigate my shaking; dogs are perceptive like that.
It wasn’t good sleep, but after a reasonable distorted concept of time spent in between the moments of conscious awareness and curtains drawn we elected to remove ourselves from the sleeping bag just as the break of day stage faded from black to grey. The sun poked holes in the cloud cover to illuminate the vast vegetation and wake up the rest of the earth with her warmth. We began our descent before the dawn patrol confronted only by our own visible breath in the air and the enumerate rocks spread before us; an oversized carpet of rounded -antiquated boulders of varying size and shape leading back down the mountain.
I’m immersed in the experience when I misstep and slip , uncertain of many things except the certain pain I’ am in. My right knee is immediately swollen, a new hole presents a pasty — and bloodied patella. I take out the emergency kit and wrap my knee with Jae and JFK keenly observing with affectionate barks and kisses. It aches but after a descent assessment of mobility and weight bearing, I continue on at a much slower pace. The moisture in the air made for an icy path down but nevertheless by the time we make it to the lodge the sun has rewarmed the air and I can delayer. The east has an uncanny way of challenging even the most experienced hikers with true ankle stability tests with its prominent rock, root, and rubbish toiled pathways it creates a fun albeit dangerous hike for any weary rollers.
We make it back to the truck and find the nearest sandwich shop for a much-warranted cup of coffee and warming nutrients. Another peak adventure accomplished, we drove off that morning leaving behind a great experience on an arduous peak of great acclaim the memories adorning that turn and burn remain forever engrained in my mind — sleeping under the stars, the abyss of the night sky melted into the rolling mountains. The beauty of a getaway , however short, never far from memory and long lived in my heart forever more.