Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2011.07.10 Mt Washington


Okay, "we" did it but, it was less significant for Sue because this was her second successful climb (she first climbed Mt Washington in 2010).  For the story behind my planning this climb please see my 2011.07.09 post called "It's Time".
 And so it begins, 8:00 AM Sunday July 10, 2011.  It's only an 8.2 mile round trip but it is one of the greatest elevation changes (maybe 'the' greatest?) in the White Mountains.  We begin at about 2,000' above sea level and will finish at an elevation of 6,288'.  

In total the hike took us 10.5 hours including our having spent nearly an hour at the summit.  It was a long day.  We then needed to make the 2-hr drive home.  It was worth the effort as you will be able to tell from some of the photos.

A beautiful water crossing in the morning sun.

 Those peaks above the treetops are near to the elevation we will reach (though these are more southerly peaks).

Our first glimpse of the infamous Tuckerman's Ravine.

This shot is looking towards the Northern side of the ravine where the Lion Head trail descends (our route down).

The "Caretaker's Cabin" and the peaks behind it.  This is our last rest stop before climbing the ravine.

Thus far we have covered 2.4 miles.  The easy part is done, the real challenge now begins.  It will take significantly longer to cover the remaining 1.7 miles up the wall of the ravine and then onwards to the summit.  I did not log the time but my best guess is this remaining portion took twice as long to accomplish as the initial 2.4 miles. 

By the way, why a picture of the toilet sign?  Well, I wanted to remember it for two reasons.  First, I never, ever expected to see "flush" toilets up here but sure enough they did in fact flush.  Most facilities in the White Mountains are composting toilets and waterless urinals.  That is what existed even at the trailhead facilities at the Pinkham Notch Visitors center yet, up here we had normal toilets.  Second, a note to all hikers reading this blog.  For the next 2-3 hrs there is NO place to hide to relieve oneself.  No place....

 A great shot of the headwall of Tuckerman's Ravine.  People actually hike this in the late spring while carrying skis and boots in order to ski down it.  Don't bother inviting me next spring...

The ski trails of Wildcat Mountain can be seen in the distance.

Looking up toward Lion Head.

There were numerous waterfalls cascading down the headwall of the ravine.

What is that white stuff?  Snow, yes snow.  Remember, it is July 10th!!

 Just to prove these are not "stock" photos.  I am actually there, though I guess I could have Photoshop'd this pic.

You can see a hiker in white near the snow arch.  The 'black' area just to the left of him below the snow is actually a void under the arch.

Should have brought my skis!.  This is known as the snow arch.  It is carved by a stream of snowmelt water that flows under the snowfield.  I did not get a great photo of it but there is a gap under this arch where the stream runs.  Some fools were actually up and under, or very close to being under, the arch.  Totally foolish!

We've exited the top of the ravine and Sue peers up at what is left.  It ain't over yet.  Not by any stretch of the imagination.

See the black spot at the very top of this photo.  It is a bird flying by.  I think it may be a Vulture.

After climbing out of the ravine this is what we have ahead of us.  It is a minefield of rock, after rock and it goes on forever before we reach the summit.  This rock is called talus rock or scree. The photo makes it look as though the climb that is not very steep but remember, looks can be deceiving, very deceiving.

Note the thin line of a trail heading off towards the horizon.  That is the Davis Path.  A trail we have been on in the past but not in this area. Looking down you can get some perspective of the steepness and difficulty climbing from rock to rock.  I've climbed much more difficult and steep terrain but this is just tough and it just goes on and on.

The Lake in the Clouds AMC hut in the distance.  Simply stunning.

We have reached the summit!  We are now 5-hrs into our hike.  The following are a few photos from the roof of the Mt Washington Observatory.  That is the Mt Washington Autoroad you can see nearby.  Even closer are the tracks for the Cog Railway.

Sue at the observatory.  Note the Cog Railway descending in the distance.  Look closely (blue car and yellow engine).

 Hikers beginning their descent using a different trail

The "official" summit photo.  Let's see, I have three choices.  Climb down, take a shuttle van down the Autoroad or, take the Cog Railway down. Hmm...so many options.  Some easier than others.

We are well along on our descent.  Here I am looking back up a portion of the Lion Head trail.

The stone walkway...

The rock formation this trail is named after (Lion Head) is in the distance.

 Looking across the top of Tuckerman's Ravine.  Yes, we climbed up that! (Near side).

I am a little depressed at this point.  I feel as though I have been on the descent for a long time yet, according to this sign we have only covered .9 of a mile.

 The next several photos are looking back towards Tuckerman's Ravine from the Lion Head formation on the Lion Head trail.

Looking back down the Lion Head trail towards the summit of Mt Washington (look closely for the smoke stack marking the summit).

 Just making sure again that you know these are not stock photos.  I was faking the smile, can you tell?

 After beginning the descent from Lion Head we are looking back up at the rock formation.  I am not sure I see a "Lion Head" here but it is supposedly there...

 The same stream in the earlier photos but now with the afternoon sun on it.

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