My first summer hike up Mt. Washington

Mid July we found a great little Sunday for my husband, a couple friends and I to hike the big rockpile. We leave our dog Mizpah home for the northern Presidentials. The rocks can be very tough on their pads and joints. I have hiked Mt. Washington in late March before, which was still very wintery. I had never hiked it in the summer.  There are quite a few routes up and down it; people hike it, ski it, drive up it, take ATVs up it (on special days), bike it, take the cog railway, and run it! The weather on Mt. Washington can be some of the worst weather on the planet, and I believe the number of deaths up there is hovering around 150 since 1849. Many deaths have been from hypothermia, and then there are accidents, and of course things like heart attacks. My husband accuses me of putting Washington on a pedestal, but man, it really is something. He is the tallest peak east of the Mississippi River at 6,288 feet (EDIT- this is incorrect and apparently just something I say haha, tallest peak east of the Mississippi is actually Mount Mitchell at 6684 ft in NC).

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One of the trains down at the station. The trailhead for Ammo is up and to the right and the trailhead for Jewell is to the left!
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The tracks! Near the tracks the whole length of the mountain there are chunks of black coal from the train #leavenotrace ?

We took the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail up, and the Jewell Trail down.  Those trails are on the cog railway station side of the mountain. Someday I really want to do the Tuckerman Ravine Trail which is the most popular trail and is on the Pinkham Notch side. There are a few features over there I want to see like the Harvard cabin and the Lunch Rocks. My husband convinced me that a beautiful summer Sunday was not the day to do the most popular trail there 🙂

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Views from a summit are beautiful but I think sights like this are pretty amazing too
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Looks like a great spot for a dip!
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Lakes in the Clouds Hut…..literally in a cloud on this day!
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Misty lakes near the hut
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Another misty lake view, visibility was low!

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The Tip Top House, built as a hotel in 1853 is the oldest structure on Mt. Washington, and might be the oldest mountain top holstery in the world! The last time I was up on top of Mt. Washington in March of 2015, the Tip Top House had snow up the to the top of the windows, you could only see the roof!!

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MWOBS- The Observatory! I would love to stay the night sometime or be a volunteer at the observatory when I retire or something.
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I did have to wait in a short line behind both hikers and people that drove or took the train up. I guess its just part of Mt. Washington’s deal in the summer.
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Walking down the Jewell Trail- the sun came out!
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Great Gulf- formed by a glacier! The lake down there is Spaulding Lake

Mt. Washington is more than just a part of the White Mountain National Forest, its a New Hampshire State Park. In the summer months, summit visitors can check out the Tip Top House which is sorta staged like the hotel it once was, enjoy the amazing views, hit up a gift shop, check out weather exhibits, and get a slice of pizza at the little food court. It was bizarre to say the least. Also, the cell service is amazing up there; I passed no less than 4 hikers on their phones on the Jewell Trail coming down : | It is what it is, Mt. Washington is special and so we all must share it. My memories of being up there in a winter wonderland with maybe 3 other people the last time I was there are now even more precious. It was definitely a long day; cool, raw, and misty to start, and then sun beating on us above treeline coming down. Thats how it is with Washington though, you obsess over the forecast in the days leading up to your hike, but truly you have no idea.

It wasn’t Mt. Washington until the late 1700s. Before then it was known by its Native American name, Agiocochook, which means “Home of the Great Spirit”. This mountain definitely lives up to that name.

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Dartmouth Outing Club & Mt. Moosilauke

I hope that you all had a good Thanksgiving and a great weekend!! I spent the weekend up in NH with my fiancé and his family. We celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday, and then his birthday on Saturday with an awesome hike to #optoutside on Friday in between.

I only have 7 hikes left to complete the NH 48 4000-footers…..but they are all pretty long. We wanted to be back, showered, and ready to go for dinner & drinks at Poor People’s Pub (good grub, cheap beer) Friday night, so we chose Mt. Moosilauke  for our hike. The trail we picked, the Gorge Brook Trail, had a book time of 5 hours. We did it in 4.5, but we had to add an hour because the gate to the access road was shut and locked so we had to walk another 1.5 miles in and out from the trail head. That happens in the fall/winter.

The Gorge Brook Trail, Al Merrill Loop, Ridge Trail, and Snapper Ski Trail all start near the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. The lodge and bunkhouses are owned by the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) from Dartmouth College in Hanover NH. The DOC is legendary in the White Mountains. Their love for outdoor activities, particularly winter sports has made the White Mountains what it is today, a region dotted with ski resorts, and home to cross country ski trails, snowshoeing trails, and backcountry skiing. Really  many of the first mountaineers in the Whites were from the DOC, some from Harvard too. These were the first mountaineers out west in many cases too. They were men that loved sport, competition, and endurance….and had the privilege and opportunity to travel and play in the mountains.

I have already hiked Mt. Moosilauke from a trail on the other side of the mountain, Glencliff, so this was my first time seeing the lodge. It’s really neat, bunkhouses named after different classes, a swimming hole for the class of 07, and the lodge itself is huge! They offer lodging to the public, students/alumni get a discount, and offer meals too. It’s also home to the trail crew, a group of students that maintain 17 cabins and ~50 miles of trails between the lodge and the campus in Hanover.

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Ivy league bunkhouses folks
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Walking up the main lodge, it’s huge!!
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Tried not to be too much a paparazzi, but I loved this bunkhouse. You can just barely see the screened in porch on the right with matching hunter green adirondack chairs
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The lawn of the lodge- I picture frisbee games, picnics, and stargazing out here

The hike itself was great, trail was not too rocky, lots of rock stairs, some ice towards the summit. The trails are very well marked by orange signs and very well taken care of. There are a couple re-routes which can be annoying, but are also signs of good trail stewardship. For this mountain, they have been moving the trails up and away from the riverside because of erosion and damage from hurricanes in the past.

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Mizpah is very attentive when we stop for a snack
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Selfie with Miz!

 

Dartmouth owns the Gorge Brook watershed, something like 4500 acres on Mt. Moosilauke and the surrounding area. It is named after C. Ross McKenney, an avid woodsman who oversaw the building of the main lodge in 1938. The lodge was saved after many years of disuse in the 50s by Al Merrill, the Director of Outdoor Programs and Ski Coach at the time.

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Memorial for Ross McKenney at the last sure water stop 

The summit of Moosilauke is above treeline. It can be extremely windy up there because its the furthest west of the 4000 footers and catches undeterred wind all the way from Vermont. There is a stone foundation up on the summit, the remains of an old hotel up there in 1860. It was first called the Prospect House, later called the Tip Top House. The Carriage Road Trail was originally used to reach the hotel. It was lovingly run by Dartmouth students from 1920 until it burned down in 1942. The hotel on Mt. Washington was also called the Tip Top House. I just couldn’t get a pic of it on this hike, the wind was gusting to ~50 mph. It was tough to stand up and walk at times.

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Freezing in the wind on the summit, couldn’t take too many pics
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Muddy paws and ears flapping in the wind

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I absolutely love the history in the White Mountains. All the old hotels, mountain huts & shelters from a time when the train was the only way to get up there. To see what it looked like up there in its hey day. Not all of it was good of course, the White Mountain National Forest was almost leveled for lumber and to create farmland. I definitely prefer it with the trees, but the glimpses of the past are much appreciated.

I would like to explore the lodge more when its open. They open in May and close November 1st. Don’t worry, my fiancé is doing the grid for the 48, so he has done Moosilauke in 3 months so far, 9 more to go!

What did you do to #optoutside on Friday? Have I inspired anyone to come to NH and see the Ivy League accommodations at the ravine lodge? Please say yes! 🙂

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REI’s Opt Outside Campaign

I think it was Monday night that I got the email from REI that they were closing on black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. REI is a coop company where once you join the coop, any purchases get chronicled, and you get money back each year on your purchases. I have gotten camping & hiking stuff at REI in the past. Black Friday has become a day of American consumerism like nothing else. The time for stores to open has pushed all the way to basically after dinner on Thanksgiving Thursday. The first year I headed up to NH to be with my fiancé’s family after Thanksgiving lunch with my family, there was traffic. I was shocked, how could there be traffic going through his town? It was because of the Walmart. I was driving to get to dessert with those I love, and got stuck in traffic with people going to get the best deal on a new flatscreen.

REI’s campaign asks us to go outside on Friday after Thanksgiving- get out of the stores, get off our computers, and do something outside. They created the hashtag “opt outside” for all of us to showcase our non consumer driven activities. Its fine with me because we were already planning to hike in NH. I still have to do the Tripyramids, Hancocks, and Cabot this fall/winter.

Will REI reach a new group of people to be customers? I don’t know, its a pretty specific audience that goes to REI. Maybe the campaign will inspire people to go buy new outdoorsy items for their #optoutside adventures. Maybe REI will even toss us some sales beforehand to help us get outfitted for the day. Will other companies join REI in closing on Black Friday? I don’t know. Think about everyone being able to spend all of Thursday & all of Friday with their families. REI’s 143 stores will be closed on that Friday and every employee will get paid to go do something outside! Can someone start paying me to play outside?! Here are the little YouTube videos they have created for the #optoutside campaign:

Opting outside will cost me gas money, and maybe a parking fee depending on which mountain we go to. Sooooo much cheaper than whatever I would ever buy on black Friday. Go outside more, spend less.

c/o Mon