August 12, 2014
Located high atop New Hampshire’s Presidential Range, Mt. Washington is the largest mountain in the Northeast US, and was my first state highpoint. We hiked it on a foggy, cool August day with obscured visibility but minimal crowds.
Like most hikers, we started early at the ATC Center at Pinkham Notch, taking the Tuckerman Ravine Trail (red) to the summit. This route provides a fantastic cross section of region’s climate, starting in cool green conifer forests, marching steadily upward into more stubborn granite-hewn terrain, and eventually breaking through the treeline into a sprinkling of fragile alpine vegetation among the scree.
Atop the saddle above Tuckerman’s Ravine, we stopped and chatted with an AMC Summit Steward, who emphasized to us the fragility of the environment and pointed out several rare, native plant species growing among the granite. After a short rest and a few slices of cold pizza, we turned north and headed up the cone for our last mile upwards.
On our way upwards, the wind and fog picked up steadily.
Reaching the summit of Mount Washington was a bit surreal. The surrounding environs – wet rocks, steep slopes, and impenetrable fog – give way at the top to a gift shop, field trip groups, and scores of tourists waiting for their photo at the official summit.
We waited in line for our photo, too, having climbed 4800′ from our starting elevation and eager to start our descent.