Mount Washington
6288 feet

The incredible sunset that we saw from Lakes of the Clouds

Hike stats

  • Date: July 4 & 5, 2010
  • Trail: Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail to Lake of the Cloud Huts, Crawford Path to Mt Monroe; Crawford Path to Mt Washington
  • Total hiking time: [Day 1: 10 hours, Day 2: 3 hours to summit]
  • Weather: Perfect. 90 at the trailhead, 75 on the trail, comfortably chilly at the summit.
"After dinner we had a serious talk about our prospects. We were looking at a roughly 14-hour hike minimum for Monday if we wanted to achieve the Washington crown and get back down to the trailhead."

Read more about Randy's thoughts on Mount Washington here.

Hike report

Rough terrain

The group of 10 started up the old Ammonoosuc Trail in brilliant sunshine from the base of the Cog Railway around 8:00am. The trail began with a very gradual ascent, and had minimal roots and rocks for the first 1/2 mile before it merged in with the regular Ammonoosuc Trail. At this point, the trail hugged the side of the Ammonoosuc River and contained a few more boulders, which at times caused a bit of a slowdown. There was lots of evidence of a winter avalanche in the ravine, but luckily most of the trail damage and blowdowns had been cleared. Overall, it was smooth sailing to Gem Pool, where we arrived about 10:30am, ready for a break. Gem Pool was a great place to rest and talk with fellow hikers, of which there were many! Allowing hikers to pass our group of ten proved to add on a significant amount of time to our day.

The staircase above Gem Pool was steep yet easy-going, as footing was even and somewhat regular, and we kept a good pace. After about a 1/4 mile of this, however, the trail hit a wooden ladder, its announcement that our steps were over and the scrambles were about to begin. We had read many warnings of slick rocks, but we had mostly dry footing up the chunky slabs, except in the several places where we had to cross the stream. At about mile 1.5, we began to get our first views of the valley and we took a break near a set of stunning waterfalls, where we got our first cool breezes. The weather was close to 90 degrees at the trailhead, but was around 75 on the trail while a few grey clouds loomed overhead. The one mile of scrambles took us almost 4 hours, including breaks. The challenging parts were the irregular rocks, using only hands and feet to balance, Quinn needing a break and a bit of hot weather. We used a human guide for the last two hours, which meant constant vigilance and care on the steep rocks.

Lakes of the Clouds

A few hundred yards below the hut, the scrubby pine gave way to open rock and we were able to see our destination, Lake of the Clouds. When we arrived at the hut, several members of the group were mentally tired (and perhaps physically!), so a smaller group climbed Mt Monroe without packs or gear. The dirt trail was easy and clear as we used a human guide, with only one short technical climbing section. It took 90 minutes to summit and return to the hut (.6 miles roundtrip).

That evening, we assessed our mental and physical condition (before a spectacular sunset) and decided the smart decision was to summit Mt Washington the next morning and take the cog railway down. The earlier pace of the day and the challenging scrambles surprised us a bit, so we talked about coming back with more time and better experience to try again.

On Sunday morning, we ascended 1.4 miles to the summit of Mt Washington along Crawford Path - the day was crystal clear and in the high 60s or low 70s along the ridge. The trail ran through many boulder fields that increased in steepness and difficulty as we approached the summit. Randy and Quinn navigated them well and we reached the top in just under 3 hours, where Quinn licked the pin in celebration!

Read more

Pre-hike page:

Mt. Washington Pre-hike Information

Blog posts about the hike:

"Experience! My Initial Thoughts" by Randy
"How Do We Measure Success" by Randy
"Applause for Mother Nature" by Tracy
"Are Randy's Ankles Made of Rubber?" by Carrie

Blog posts from before the hike:

"He who fails to plan, plans to fail." by Carrie


Picasa web album: "10-07-05 July 2 through 5 2010" by Tracy
Picasa web album: "2020VQ - Mt Washington" by Jenifer