September 7th – Our alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. and we were up and at ’em. Today’s the day we’re hiking Mount Washington, considered to be the most prominent mountain east of the Mississippi River. Truth be told, I was a little bit intimidated by this big sucker and I just wanted to get on with it! We ate breakfast at Pinkham Notch, a wonderfully-maintained Visitor Center that caters to day-hikers as well as Appalachian Trail thru-hikers; offering hot, homemade meals, showers and bathrooms, and even an overnight lodge for weary hikers.
Our trailhead is on the east side of Mount Washington, and our goal was to arrive before 7 a.m. to get an early start to our long day. We enjoyed a delicious, carb-heavy breakfast and talked to a couple of fellow hikers in the dining hall before taking off. Right at the trail head we weighed our bags – Fred had 20 pounds on his back – mostly camera equipment plus some rain gear and a fleece jacket – and I was carrying 12 pounds of rain gear, my fleece, and our lunch. We each had water – two bottles for me, and Fred with two bottles plus the equivalent of three bottles in his Camelback. Off we go!
Hover your cursor over the photo, below, and click on the arrows to scroll through some great photos of our wonderful, but grueling hike up Mount Washington:
You may have noticed that there are a lot more photos of our hike up and only a couple from the way down. This is because the hike down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail was brutal! Our knees were shouting at us a mere 25 steps down from the summit, and it was quite discouraging to know we had 4.4 miles of descending ahead of us. Down through the ravine trail we passed, and hiked through, some beautiful trickling streams which fell, in areas, off the rocks to create pretty little waterfalls. While lovely vignettes definitely worthy of photographing, it was too much effort to stop, take off the backpack, unzip it, pull out the camera, take a photograph, put the camera back, zip the backpack, then get going again. For both of us, especially me, the mantras on the way down were ‘just keep going’… ‘one foot in front of the other’… and to paraphrase one of our favorite cyclists, the German Jens Voigt, ‘shut up knees!’ [Jens shouts ‘shut up legs!’ while he’s cycling.]
At 5:25 p.m. we made it back to Pinkham, gingerly limped to the car, stretched, and I, for one, vowed, NOT to hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim as Fred wants to do to mark his 60th birthday! This hike was truly grueling, and I am not too keen to hike again for a while! While I’m sure my feelings will change in the morning, for tonight I just want dinner, three Advil, and a good night of sleep.