Friday, 15 August 2014

Summer of 2014 Continued

I didn't quite finish the Mt. Washington story. Well, this is the continuing saga. I've should have added this one sooner, as this is part of the ravine trail heading up to the Gem Pool. It does give an idea of the scenery found on the way up, still well below the tree line.

Ammonoosuc Ravine

So... continuing where I left off, the trip up to the tree line was challenging. Once we broke through free of the trees, we could see glimpses of the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) Lake of the clouds Cabin. It was a great place to stop and rest before continuing to the summit. It is also an opportunity to judge the weather and conditions to make sure you are equipped correctly and prepared for the type of conditions found above the cabin. The cabin has amenities, like washrooms, overnight accommodations, hot beverages and some food if you want to purchase it. We had our own provisions and were quite well prepared to continue up the mountain. Once back on our way, the first sign you pass says something like, "This is Mt. Washington. The worst weather in the USA. Many people have died on this mountain. Do not continue if you are not equipped or able to contend with the weather etc..." And continue on, we did.

View of Lake of the Clouds Cabin, AMC

During our ascent, there were some views of the summit and of the trail below us. We were well into the cloud cover at this point and there was a slight clearing to look down the path from where we had come. If it was truly a cloudy, foggy day, we would have had to return to the cabin and back the way we came, as we had no compass. Fortunately, we could see up the path to the next rock cairn. Trail markings are non existent or too faded to see. The cairns really helped. We did meet one pair of hikers who took the wrong path, and added about 1 km to their trip after passing us, and then rejoining us later. It pays to pay attention! 

Looking back down the path through the clouds
After many rock scrambles up the trail to the summit, and a fairly steep climb, we reached the summit. On the summit, we found a myriad of people who had either driven or taken the cog railway. They had lined up to have a pictures taken at the summit sign, stating the altitude. A little too much for me, so we bypassed that. (Lining up to have photos? They were wearing t-shirts and shorts! It was about 7 degrees C at the summit. We were wearing base layers, insulating layers and a shell to keep warm!) I did manage a few shots at the summit, just so you can see what it looks like.

Structures found atop Mt. Washington
 It was then time to return to the start. We planned the day before to take the Jewell Trail back to the start. It was a challenge as it had a lot of scree and rock falls to navigate. Hard on the feet and ankles and knees! We crossed the Cog Railway which had many trains ferrying people to the summit. The people on board looked at us like we were oddities (actually climbing up the Mountain?!) 

Mt. Washington Cog Railway
And, as our luck would have it... on looking back to the summit, the clouds lifted and the sun started to shine. Regardless, the views were still stunning coming down the west side of the Mountain.

On the Jewell Trail looking up at the summit
 The Jewell Trail doesn't have a lot of redeeming qualities, like the Ammonoosuc Trail, but it is an easier descent with a lesser grade. There were a few features, and views along the way. From a distance, these rocks looked a little like snow, still worthy of a photo!

Snow Rocks on the Jewell Trail

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Summer of 2014

My wife and I took a nice little trip by car to the east coast. Our plans were not too solid, and we were planning only a few things on this trip. She loves the ocean, so the trip was planned around the ocean as much as possible. The one thing we did plan, was a bicycle trip on Nantucket. We didn't take a lot of photos on Nantucket, but this opportunity in Hyannis did present itself. We went to watch the sunset, from the beach which is near the harbour outlet. The colours of the setting sun filtered through the sail wing made for an interesting photo.

After Hyannis, we headed North for New Hampshire. We had been to the White Mountains previously, but when our kids were young, so this time, we had time to do some hiking. 

Lonsome Lake

We arrived in the mountains in the afternoon, and after getting some local info from the ranger station, we decided to hike up to Lonesome Lake. It is a nice little hike, fairly steep, but at the end, you are rewarded with a beautiful view of the lake. This was taken near the Appalachian Mountain Club's cabin. The trails up to the lake are well marked and easy to follow, but make sure you wear proper footwear have proper clothing as well. 

The next day, after speaking to our host from the local B&B, we decided to tackle Mt. Washington. On his advice, we took the Ammonnoosuc Ravine Trail from the west side of the mountain.

The trail is challenging, and at the start, quite easy, but after the Gem Pool, the grade changes dramatically and you must be skilled and prepared for bouldering, traversing rock face and fording streams. This is one hike you must be prepared for and must check the weather and must also be prepared to say, "This doesn't look good. It is time to return the way we came!"

Ammonoosuc Ravine and trail

This photo, (above) is a typical display of the 'lower' trail. The grade is lower and the trail well maintained.

The Gem Pool
As I said earlier, after reaching the Gem Pool, which is a really great place to have a snack and re-hydrate, you must cross the pool, and follow the near vertical path (just to the left in this photo), to continue "up" the trail. Depending on the temperature, this is also a great place for a swim!

Just off the trail, I found another 'pool' at the bottom of a number of waterfalls. This one was a little hard to get to, but worth it. It does not hurt to venture off the trail a little, if you are able, and careful, and find other views like this one.