Polar bear at the Toronto Zoo, Canada.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Reuniting with Max in Germany on October 1st.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hike up Mount Washington

We were up at 5:00am Sunday morning. Made it to the National Forest trailhead parking lot near the Mount Washington cog railway, and began our hike at about 6:30am.

Mount Washington is the highest point in North America east of the Rocky Mountains. It is also the site of the worst weather in North America in terms of both cold and wind.

Mount Washington in the distance

There are several ways to get to the top. The auto road was built in the 1800’s and used by horse and carriage at the time, but now you can drive your own car ($$), you can have someone else take you in a van ($$$), you can rent an ATV ($$$$) or you can take the cog railway ($$$$$) which was built in 1869.

Or, you can hike up for free. (We had to pay a $3 parking fee at the lot.)

Ruth, admiring the scenery on the way up Mount Washington

A nice waterfall along the way

There are three most used trails to the top. We chose to take the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail (4.5 miles, 7.2 kms) up, and the Jewell Trail (5.0 miles, 8.0 kms) back down. The paperwork we had read states that “this is a rather demanding hike, suitable for the experienced and well conditioned hiker, that can be completed in a days time given an early start and good weather.”

Uphill. It was like this for almost a mile!

So we started off at 6:30am, and made it to the Lake-of-the-Clouds shelter hut at 9:00am. Elevation at the parking lot was 2,560 ft and at the hut it is 5,000 ft. Mount Washington summit is 6,288 ft. The first part of the trail was fairly easy, but the last mile up to the hut was very difficult and uphill every step of the way.

Starting to get up high

The "hut" at Lake of the Clouds. Elevation 5,000 ft.

We started off in shorts and tshirts but by the time we made it to the shelter, the temperature was about 55F (12C) and it was windy. However we were very lucky with the weather and it was a beautiful day. Visibility was good and the view was fantastic.

Starting to get a little chilly!

Hiking through the clouds towards the summit

Looking down at the Lake of the Clouds hut.

We rested in the hut for about 30 minutes and then took on the next 1.4 miles to the summit. It was pretty slow going and we reached the top at about 11:00am. One of the first things we saw at the top was the parking lot full of ATV’s and cars. I know the auto road and the cog railway were built in the 1800’s, but we have a hard time with the ATV thing. I mean, this is a National Forest and New Hamshire State Park. I thought their mandate was to leave things in a natural state. I think they have commercialized it way too much. But, it’s all about the money, right?!

You round the top of the trail and you see the parking lot!

But, the view in the opposite direction is fantastic.

When we were at the top, the wind was gusting from 35-50 mph

However, the satisfaction of hiking to the top is so much greater than driving. I think the view is even better that way! We waited with the tourists to get someone to take our picture at the summit. I told the other people waiting there that the letters on the sign won’t show up in your picture unless you hiked to the top!

Made it!

We didn’t linger at the top because we knew we had Whiskey waiting alone in Sherman back at the campground. We had hoped to make it back there by 1:00pm, but it took a little longer to get to the top than we had expected. We headed back down via the Jewell Trail. This trail was very hard on the legs, with lots of rocks. And of course we were already pretty tired from the hike up. It seemed like it was never going to end. Eventually, we got below the tree line again and back to the parking lot around 2:00pm. So the entire hike took us 7.5 hours, and other than the half hour in the hut, we didn’t really rest very much.

They were right, this was a demanding hike. We were exhausted at the end of it, and my knees and legs are pretty sore this morning. In fact, we would say this is the most difficult same day hike we have ever done.

Made it back to Whiskey and she looked at us like “it’s about time, where have you been?!” Ruth took her for a little stroll and sat outside with her, but all I could do was to lie down and have a nap!

I think we’re just going to relax and recouperate for the next couple of days!

When we got back to the Apple Hill Campground, we were going to move Sherman to the field and stay overnight there for $10. The owner, Rob, accepted our $10 but said we could stay put right where we are in our site with the full hookups. I thought that was great, and a really kind gesture on his part! I really didn’t have the energy to move us anyhow! This guy always had a smile on his face and was a really helpful host. I have no problem recommending this campground and we look forward to visiting here next time we’re in the area.


  1. You guys continue to amaze me. Even when I was young (really young) I couldn't have made it up that mountain - at least not on foot. What glorious pictures you took. Whiskey must really be loved if Ruth still had the strength to take her for a stroll after that hike. A day or two off wouldn't be a bad thing.

  2. what a wonderful hike that must have been - will see if I can convince my bride to do the same hike when we get there later this summer...

  3. I enjoyed the pics very much. We climbed Mt. Washington last year, but we were in our truck. Would love to have hiked, but the old joints won't allow that kind of stuff any more...I am so envious.

  4. Gah! I got tired just reading that! If I had a hat on at the moment, I'd tip it.
    Pretty sure my wife and I would have been one of the ones taking the car, even if that meant having to pay for the privilege. There would be no "Live Free of Die" if they didn't get their money somehow.
    We used to do a quite a lot of the Bruce Trail when we were in our 20s and 30s, but after many many years running around on concrete floors, too many things start to hurt after a very short while, and I don't want to take that many painkillers.

    Fun to watch you guys do it though!


  5. amazing feat!..good for you both!..quite the views at the top!!

  6. Congratulations! Wow! What an accomplishment!

  7. Great job, now that I'm on my 60's I would have been tired after riding the train up & down. You guys are really in good shape. Must be the Mexican food you live on 6 months out of the year. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna...

  8. I just know that you have the best photos of anyone else on the Mountain that day, cuz you hiked it!! You probably also saw much more spectacular scenery than the others. Your aches will heal and then onto the next adventure. Kudos to the RV park, they are customer orientated.

  9. That has to be one of the best feeling's to make the summit. I have to hand it to you two for doing it,way to go.

  10. Congrats, you will remember this forever. Great pictures, thanks for taking us along.

  11. wow you two amaze me to no end....the stamina you have...my legs hurt just from reading the adventure lol...but kudos to you both...what an accomplishment!!!! I'm surprised Ruth still had the energy to take whiskey for a walk....I'm sure you will both sleep well tonight...
    (Rick tucker and lily too)

  12. Good job on the hike. I would love to be able to do this, I need to find a partner to hike with, can't attempt a hike like this alone.

  13. I love the scenery at the top, but I think I would opt for the train or by car... LOL

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

  14. Congratulations, what an amazing hike! It's surprising they have the most severe weather when there are peaks that are much higher elsewhere. We love to hike, but since I tore my ACL two years ago, my knee just doesn't want to cooperate like it used to. I keep hoping over time it will get back to where it was. A hike like that would cause it to swell too much.

  15. What a great adventure and workout for the day!

  16. Thanks for all the wonderful words. We did really enjoy the hike and the scenery and we did see some beautiful views that could not have been seen by either the train ride up or the drive up. We were surprised to see such a cross section of people on the trail from a couple of children about 8 or 9 right up to people in their 60's and 70's. We noticed that a some of the people stayed overnight at the Lakes-of-the-Clouds hut which broke the hike up.

    We do feel proud of ourselves, the only tougher hike that we have done is to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and we did that one in 2 days. Evelyn by the time we were done Kevin's knee was causing him pain, luckily by the next day it was feeling better.

    Kevin, Ruth and Whiskey

  17. Wow, 231 miles per hour and a steep hike up those rocks. Sounds pretty rugged. Makes me moderate hikes look tame! :)

    1. Definitely one of our toughest hikes but we had a great day for it. Couldn't have ask for better weather that day.


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