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

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