2008-10-04 Attempt of Mt Washington

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  1. #1

    2008-10-04 Attempt of Mt Washington

    Date(s) Hiked:2008-10-04

    Trails(s) Hiked:Ammonoosic Ravine trail

    Total Distance:6.2 miles



    Difficulty:Medium to difficult

    Conditions: Wet leaves at the bottom, snow/packed snow/ice up top with high winds up top

    Special Required Equipment: Face masks, goggles

    Trip Report: 2008-10-04 Attempt at Mt. Washington

    We got up at 5:30 AM to make this trip. I parked in the Cog railway parking lot and the parking Nazi came over and told me no hiker parking. I said no problem, where can I park. So I parked in the lower lot, oh well. By 9 AM we were hiking up the Ammonusic Ravine trail. A little wet and raining lightly out. Meant the traction wouldn’t be great, but certainly workable. The views start out nice enough.



    Suzy is happy enough to be coming, and she is moving right along just fine. After a while, I am ahead of Jeannette.
    Yup, that is snow there. Normally, I get just out of sight and stop and she catches up. But once, I am at a scenic vista, so I take the side trail and take pictures of the water falls. I think this is Jewel pond, but I am not sure.




    She hikes right up past the side trail, not realizing I was down there taking pictures. When I come back out, I kinda expect to see her at the junction in the trail, but she is not there. So I ask a couple of young girls if they have seen my wife. They describe her a bit and say she went up the trail. So up I go to catch up to her. She is surprised to see me behind her. We continue on. You can see the plume of smoke from the cog train and some nice valley scenes.
    This trail has water in much of the trail, and several stream crossings, nice and shallow. Very pretty waterfalls abound on this hike.






    It is about here that Jeannette tells me she is feeling a little dizzy. I am not certain if it is temporary exertion doing this or if the altitude is getting to her again. She has had this trouble before on Katahdin, which is a mile high, but three weeks earlier on Eisenhower, she had no problems, even though it was 4760 feet up. I ask her if we should turn around and she insists she is not hiking back down that trail. (Down is always harder than up). We have planned to summit Washington and take the Jewel trail down, as it is the easiest trail down. As we continue on upward, the light traces of snow become very real snow and ice. Remember, we are hiking up a very wet trail.
    Soon we make it to lake in the clouds hut, 5012 feet up, and shelter ourselves from the wind. It is very windy up there. With our backs to the wind and our hoods up, no problem, face into the wind, problem.
    I scout around a bit. I’d love to bag Monroe, since we have come this far. It is only 4/10 of a mile away and a couple hundred feet elevation gain.
    This ice encrusted trail sign seems to indicate that-away to Monroe. I hike out a little bit and meet some others coming from Monroe. They are back to the wind, while I am facing the wind. No face mask or goggles for us. I come back and look towards Washington, in the other direction, still another mile and a half away and some 1276 foot elevation gain.

    I reconsider our position as we chug down peanuts, candy and drink. Getting to Jewel pond, we are ahead of the book by 20 minutes. By the time we reach the hut, we are 20 minutes behind the book. We’ve lost 40 minutes in about a mile and a half. The altitude is certainly affecting Jeannette adversely. I tell her that we are not going up to Washington. She asks about taking the cog down, if we go that way. I tell her that will work for her, but dogs are not allowed on the cog, so either way, I am walking down with Suzy. I tell her that I do not relish the idea of doing another mile and a half at her reduced pace, so that I can hike even further to the Jewel trail to start going back down. That is not an option. (I don’t tell her, but I am thinking survival here). I reconsider Monroe, only 4/10s of a mile away. We are so close, but it is windy and there are whiteout conditions. Some others came back after attempting to go on up to the peak of Washington. They can’t see well enough to see the next trail marker or cairn. Good way to get lost up there. I tell her that we have to go back down the way we came up. By now we have eaten and drank and bundled up. I bundle up a little more. I am fine but I will be going much slower than I can, as Jeannette is struggling. That struggle will keep her warm, while I’ll have to find a different way to keep warm (lots of clothes). I encourage her to keep moving, one foot in front of the other. There really aren’t any other options up here. Going down those ice encrusted slopes is way worse than coming up them. Hard to believe that just 3 weekends ago, Eisenhower, some 252 feet lower than the hut we were sheltering ourselves looked so Summery:


    We had heard there was some snow up top. But wow!!! And windy, and white out. We remembered as we drove up, the mountain was looking good, then some clouds rolled in. Oh well, hike in the Whites, you’ll get turned around more than once.

    On the way back down, we stop again at the waterfall and take a few more pictures. It is a tale of two very different worlds on this trip. Wet fall day at the bottom ,
    blustery wintery whiteout up top.

    As we descend, Jeannette’s condition improves and we hike out without incident.

    We’ll be back.
    lovin life,

    Bob

  2. #2
    thetrailboss's Avatar
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    Smart move to bag it and head down. I hiked Mount Ellen yesterday and it was cold...some traces of snow...but cold and windy.

    The Presis can be difficult to hike in October.
    Live, Ski, or Die!


  3. #3
    Wow..nice TR..weather changes so fast on New Englands highest peak..

  4. #4
    Everyone that has hiked the Presidentials has probably been turned around at some point due to weather. Even in the dead of summer. I got turned back a few years ago due to monstrous wind as soon as I broke tree line. And I have altered plans more than once while heading up on skis based on changing conditions. Always gotta turn back when things start looking questionable once you get above tree line and that was a good call not going for the summit.
    -Steve
    TheSnowWay.com "Skiing is not a sport, it is a way of life." - Otto Schniebs

  5. #5
    You chose ... wisely. Turning around is not uncommon on the Presies, especially as the winter weather starts to set in. It was the right thing to do.

    That said, these were excellent conditions to have experienced safely!
    Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face. - Dave Barry
    Waterville 11/30; Loon 12/7; Cannon 12/13, 1/17, 2/23; Sugarloaf 12/20, 21-22; Bretton Woods 1/3; Jay Peak 1/24-25; Heavenly 2/9; Squaw Valley 2/10-2/11; Wachusett 3/3; Sunday River 3/7-8

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelJ View Post
    You chose ... wisely. Turning around is not uncommon on the Presies, especially as the winter weather starts to set in. It was the right thing to do.

    That said, these were excellent conditions to have experienced safely!
    I see, an Indiana Jones fan.
    lovin life,

    Bob

  7. #7
    We named the *dog* Indiana.
    Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face. - Dave Barry
    Waterville 11/30; Loon 12/7; Cannon 12/13, 1/17, 2/23; Sugarloaf 12/20, 21-22; Bretton Woods 1/3; Jay Peak 1/24-25; Heavenly 2/9; Squaw Valley 2/10-2/11; Wachusett 3/3; Sunday River 3/7-8

  8. #8
    IMO April & october ar the trickiest months. (November - March you expect it to be winter like) Warm dry trailheads to start but cold & snow up top or rotting snow in April make the conditions tough. If you have a south facing trail, it may melt quicker & some October Days can be vry warm.

    I was on Carrigain on 10/4. Just a trace of snow. Did Isolation on 10/5. No snow but you could see ample snow on Washington & Monroe, from the distance & the cover, I'd say 2-4 inches. Cool & windy, gloves needed.
    Happy Trails, be safe & Good Luck
    Mike P.

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