Mount Washington was not only my first experience in camping, but it was also my first real experience in hiking mountains. Sure, I’ve walked around in the hills of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but those don’t even compare to the ones in Vermont and New Hampshire. In the middle of the night, we finally arrived at Dolly Copp Campground. With no cell service, it took us an hour to find our campsite in the dark where all our friends had already arrived.
The whole camping thing was a brand new experience to me, but we were far from roughing it. My one friend bought a raw calzone and cooked it over the fire (one of the best calzones I’ve ever tasted). It got so cold that night half of us slept back in the cars. Once we got up and packed away all the tents, we broke out for some breakfast sandwiches in the nearby town and headed to the base of the beautiful Mount Washington. The sun was just coming up over Wildcat mountain to shine through the fall leaves of October.
The weather couldn’t have been any more perfect. The westward wind was completely blocked by the mountain, so we were able to hike up in the cool autumn air in shorts and t-shirts without an issue. The views were incredible as we trekked up Tuckerman’s Ravine Trail to where it connected with Lion Head Trail. We all stopped for a break and pictures on Lion Head as it overlooked the massive Tuckerman’s Ravine. As we pushed further above the tree-line, it was unique to see rocks half covered in snow on the shaded side. Once we made it, 6,000+ feet, to the summit of Washington (aka the parking lot), it was very disappointing to see all the people that drove their car to the top and full of energy. At the top, it was so windy and cold, that the sweat that was dripping down my hands from the inside of my wind breaker froze on the back of my hands.
Our one friend, Nikhaar, cramped up so incredibly bad, just 300ft from the top, that it took him an hour just to stretch out and make that last push. We ended up having to ask a couple at the top, if they could drive him down with them. The rest of us began our trip down, checking out the Lake of the Clouds and headed down Boott Spur Trail to end our amazing trip up, and down, Mount Washington. Needless to say, our stop at Wendy’s on the way home was a well-earned one.
Don’t Forget to::
-Bring a lot of water (no less than 1 gallon). You’ll need it for a 6 hour hike up to six thousand feet.
-Make sure to layer up, don’t commit to a heavy jacket. You’ll end up getting hot and taking most of your layers off as you start hiking, so it makes it easier to put layers back on as it gets colder.
-Bring granola/power bars. You’ll be burning a lot more calories per hour than you think. It’s good to replenish.
-Make sure you have good quality hiking footwear. The soles of mine came off when I reached the summit… it was a rough descend.
-Make a turnback time. Depending on the time of year you hike, the sun will set behind the mountain, leaving the eastern face (the one you will hike) in the shade/darkness. This could make for a difficult hike down at the end of the day when you’re tired.