“Let’s go to Mt. Washington!”
We say this almost every 2 months. Usually this is followed up by a comment, ” It will be too cold now.” or, ” It’s just too far for a day trip.” It’s true, Mt. Washington is too far for a day trip and 9 out of 10 times has inclement weather. This is exactly what Mt. Washington is famous for – bad weather. If you search for Mt. Washington on youtube, you can find videos of boiling water being thrown in the air and turning to snow instantaneously, and other extreme weather videos that will blow you away. In 1934, the observatory at the summit (6,288 ft -1917 metres above sea – level) recorded the then highest surface wind speed ever officially recorded (372 km/h ;231 mph; 103 m/s).They market themselves as the place with the worst weather in the world. Why would anybody NOT want to go there!
We were in New Hampshire (NH) last weekend; leaf peeping with friends. Despite all the meticulous research and careful calculations, we were ahead of peak fall. Wandering around, wondering what to do, we found ourselves at the base of Mt. Washington. The answer was as clear as day (and what a clear day it was!) , let’ s go up Mt. Washington.
There are 2 ways to get to the top. You could either take the road, which is open only weather permitting, or you could take the cog train. Since it is a cool, crisp sunny day, we take the 8 mile long, Mt. Washington Auto Way. This itself is such a surprise because just the previous evening the radio weather channel predicted high speed winds, sleet and snow that night on Mt. Washington. When we got to the top, we see the evidence.
The road winds its way up the highest mountain in the Northeast (of the US) like a dark gray ribbon, revealing ridgeline after ridgeline. The journey is like a short lesson in geography. At the base are the hardwood trees – oak, maple, birch, shaking their red and gold heads, dancing merrily in the wind. As we go up the mountain, we are surrounded by evergreen pines.
Still higher, we are engulfed by clouds, scattered by strong busy winds. The terrain is bare and rocky. The climate, akin to the Tundra regions, differentiated only by the high amount of rain and snow it receives . It is a good day to be top of the mountain. It is cold and windy, but an ordinary jacket suffices. I wish my jacket had a hood though, to prevent Jack Frost from getting my ears and nose, and a pair of gloves so that I could take my hands out of my pockets and make pictures.
Sometimes even the best laid plans go awry. Don’t let that get you down. If you keep your mind open, you will be surprised how easily disappointments can turn into opportunities. If there is no fall foliage to admire, the sun could be shining on Mt. Washington, or it could be so cold and windy up there that you could really brave the worst weather possible.