My boyfriend’s birthday was this past week, and to celebrate, we went on a trip to the White Mountain National Forest up in New Hampshire. This was the first time I’ve been to New Hampshire (yay for making it to 30 states-only 20 more to go!), and I’m pretty sure this was the perfect week to go. The leaves were changing but there was still some green left, so you could see how bright the contrast was. Also, there were less people than I’m sure there are when the trees are are all brightly colored, so that was also an advantage.
Originally, we’d planned to go up, do a couple of short day hikes, and hang out at microbreweries and creameries the rest of the time. On the drive up, I noticed that we were staying about thirty minutes away from Mt. Washington, and remarked, “Maybe we’ll get to see Mt. Washington while we’re up here.” Two hours later, we had started playing around with the idea of maybe climbing to the Summit of Mt. Washington, but figured we’d ask our innkeeper at the Bartlett Inn (amazing, wonderful Bed and Breakfast, can’t recommend highly enough) for suggestions.
The next morning, we decided we were going to Summit Mt. Washington. Now, because we thought this would be a relaxing weekend, I hadn’t packed real hiking socks, and Josh hadn’t packed any kind of a weather-proof gear. So, after breakfast, and before we did anything else, we were at a gear store, getting me merino wool socks and Josh a waterproof fleece. After picking up 3 sandwiches and too much water (we had no idea there was a place to refill half way up), we were off.
Honestly, this was the hardest hike I’ve ever done, and the scariest one too. The hike, not surprisingly, was straight up hill the entire time. There were no plateaus, there were no gentle strolls. There’s no way I could have done this three months ago before doing all of this lower-body strength training with my trainer. A lot of people had hiking poles, which would have been helpful, but I pretty quickly learned that sometimes, the best way to get up, especially during rock scrambles and scaling sheaths of rock, is to use all four limbs. I think the best thing that anyone said to me during the hike was when I was scrambling up a rock and some guy called after me asking “Are you a freaking gazelle or something?”
The top of the mountain is insanely windy. When we were up there it was a steady blow at 49 mph with gusts of up to 70. When we tried to take the picture at the Summit sign, our hair was blowing everywhere and it was hard to stand still with the wind whipping around us so hard.
Going down was the scariest part, and there were (more than) a few times where I’d try to place my foot down somewhere secure, and the wind would blow it off course. I fell once and landed pretty hard on my knee (I have a pretty neat bruise to show for it) and needed to hold onto Josh’s hand most of the time, but the good news is, I made it. Once we got back to the treeline, it got much easier, and I actually started to enjoy the hike again.
Overall, amazing hike, and I’d definitely recommend it to someone else. It feels awesome to know that you’ve summited the highest point on the East Coast.