Monday 11th September
When we left the house this morning, it was just to run a few errands with Doug, we weren’t really expecting a long outing, both in shorts and sandals on a bright crisp Autumn day we didn’t hesitate when he said “You wanna go up Mt. Washington?”
Neither of us thought about it, maybe because this was one of the things on our to do list. Those of you who saw our planning map at home on the lounge wall will know it was covered in post it notes; well one of them was on that very mountain! Remember this is the one where the world’s highest wind speed was recorded.
In no time we were on the Auto route which is a very windy road, just wide enough for two vehicles, that snakes it’s way over 6000ft to the top of the highest peak in the Presidential Range. At “base camp” you get instructions on how to drive, ie low gear, dipped headlights etc, and a CD commentary to play on the way up.
Spectacular is such an inadequate word, breathtaking comes close but still doesn’t convey the beauty of the place. The vast green mountainous tapestry that stretched before us and below us gradually sank away as we climbed higher and higher. Tall conifers and mixed woodland gave way to stunted dwarfed trees and finally to lichen and velvety mosses as we climbed above the tree line. It took about 45 mins to drive the 8 miles to the summit, each year there are a variety of races to the top. Can you imagine the road racers? Present record stands at 7 mins!!
Atop this majestic peak stands the observatory and its meteorologists relentlessly recording what has become known as MT Washington’s weather, since it can change dramatically and suddenly.
It has many trails and intrepid hikers climb/ walk them as long as the weather allows – it is part of the Appalachian Trail. There were such hikers there today with boots, hiking sticks, back packs, cagoules- along with two Brits in full kit – shorts and sandals! Need I say more? It was not quite how I’d envisaged this meeting with the famous peak. There is another way to reach the top, by cog railway, you’ll see it in the pictures that follow… the one with what looks like broken engine. Don’t know what’s more terrifying the sheer drops looking out of the car window, or the thought of this train descending at a 45 degree angle!
Our descent was rather quicker but no less spectacular and on returning to the main road we turned North then West, eventually completely circumnavigating Mt Washington. We called in at the base station of the cog railway to see the last train of the day return amidst clouds of steam. The road back took us along dirt tracks through moose country, but alas this noble beast still eludes us.
A final thought, today flags were at half mast…it is 9/11