Mt Monroe is the fourth highest 4 thousand footer within the White Mountain Nationwide Forest, whereas Mt Washington is the tallest, #1. They’re usually hiked on the identical day as a result of they’re adjoining to 1 one other in the course of the Presidential Vary and each are positioned on the Crawford Path, which is without doubt one of the essential trails resulting in Mt Washington.
This being April, we knew path situations can be blended with some ice, some snow, and naked rock however we have been unprepared for the quantity of slush and water draining working down the edges of Washington once we climbed to the summit. It felt just like the mountain was melting beneath my toes! However I’m getting forward of myself.
The forecast for this hike referred to as for temperatures to be within the low forties Fahrenheit and partly sunny with winds of 20-25 mph gusting to 35 mph, which is fairly delicate for Mt Washington presently of 12 months. Close by Mt Monroe is about 1000 toes shorter, so we anticipated it to be even milder. There weren’t any current journey experiences on NewEnglandTrailConditions.com however we figured we’d strive Hillsound Path Crampons and convey alongside full crampons in case we wanted extra traction on the descent. I used to be accompanied by my common peakbagging companions Ken and Karen who’re reliable companions with a great deal of four-season expertise within the Whites.
We began this hike from the hiker lot under the Cog railway station, which shaves about 2 miles off the route than in case you begin on the Forest Service Amonoosuc Trailhead Parking Lot. We chatted with a couple of backcountry skiers who deliberate to hike up Washington and ski in Airline Gully (by no means heard that identify earlier than) within the Nice Gulf. Whereas I feel they’re all batshit loopy, it’s important to admire the health and talent degree required to climb Mt Washington with skis and ski boots connected to your backpack, not to mention climbing again up the Nice Gulf headwall a couple of occasions to get in a number of runs.
We headed up the Amonoosuc Path which was coated in slushy snow and smooth ice, naked booting at first, however we quickly switched to Path Crampons, that are microspikes with very lengthy sharp spikes. This path climbs very steeply to the Lake of the Clouds Hut on the foot of Mt Monroe, however that climb, 2500′ in 3.1 miles, can be the toughest a part of the day.
Nevertheless, we have been quickly sweating buckets as a result of it was a lot hotter out than anticipated. Ken and I stripped right down to our baselayer shirts, eliminated our hats and gaiters, and rolled up our pants legs to chill off. I’d uncared for to deliver a brimmed hat and knew I’d should preserve my wool cap on all day to forestall sunburn on my head above treeline. I had introduced suntan lotion although, so no less than my face and ears can be spared.
Once we arrived on the Hut, we dropped our packs and climbed to the summit of Mt Monroe, which solely requires an extra 350′ of ascent. There have been a couple of steep elements made difficult by ice, however the climb was fairly easy, though the descent took some warning to forestall a protracted slide down the east face.
Again on the hut, we sat on the nice and cozy rocks under the “lakes” that are the glacial tarns after which the hut is known as. The doorways and home windows have been nonetheless boarded for winter and the entrance of the hut was buried in snow as much as the roof. I chugged a quart of scorching tea and ate a sandwich loaded with honey to maintain my power up for the climb up Washington.
We set off on the Crawford Path towards Mt Washington and shortly encountered water streaming down the slush that coated the path. We have been all carrying waterproof insulated boots so our toes stayed heat, however the slush was so deep there have been a couple of occasions I used to be fearful that the water would high my boots.
The Crawford Path is often simple to observe with all of the rock work that has been accomplished to it over time. It’s the oldest constantly maintained path in the USA, first minimize in 1819. However the scree partitions and thoroughly fitted rock steps that kind the path have been onerous to pick amidst the slush and lingering snow earlier than us. We’ve all hiked up right here sufficient that we knew the place the path was purported to be and we did our greatest to go in the suitable path.
The space between the hut and the summit of Washington is 1.3 miles and about 1100′ of elevation acquire, fully uncovered to the climate, which will be fairly extreme at occasions. As we climbed, we crossed one of many remaining snowfields on the height, cautious to keep away from an uncontrolled slide down into Amonoosuc Ravine. I’d considered bringing an ice axe on this hike and knew I might have felt higher right here with it in hand.
As soon as we’d handed that impediment, we continued selecting our approach by means of the slush attempting to keep away from full submersion, climbing previous the Davis Path and Westside Path junctions towards the summit. Once we lastly made it to the summit signal, we marveled on the heat temperatures. It had reached 65 levels, hotter than Boston, some 150 miles to the south.
The summit of Washington is an odd place. There’s a climate station up high, and we at all times check with their forecast when climbing Washington and the opposite Northern Presidential peaks, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. There are a number of buildings on high, together with a restaurant, a put up workplace, a present store, scientific workplaces, and dwelling quarters for the forecasting/summit crew. The restaurant, put up workplace, and reward store are all closed in winter, as is the Mt Washington Auto Street which costs a charge for automobiles and bikes to drive to the highest and sightsee through the hotter months.
As we stood there we mentioned our descent. Ken and Karen needed to hike down “the Cog”, which is a vacationer prepare that takes individuals up and down the mountain. I used to be hesitant as a result of I had no concept what the highway can be like and whether or not it was protected to hike down it given the present snow situations. They assured me it might be wonderful – since they’d hiked down a couple of months earlier for the primary time too.
The “Cog” highway is a well-liked route with peakbaggers, particularly gridiots, as a result of it shortens the hike up and down Washington by a number of miles. It does that, however it’s a hideously ugly solution to climb or descend the mountain, which might actually snuff your temper. There’s an elevated observe that runs up the aspect of Washington, however the floor adjoining to it’s suffering from items of coal, rotting wooden timbers, previous rusting rails, wire, bolts, and every kind of commercial rubbish. It’s sort of surreal provided that it’s surrounded by some of the majestic and closely protected mountain ranges in North America. I inform individuals, “Mt Washington died so the remainder of the Nationwide Forest could possibly be saved.”
The Cog highway turned as much as be simpler and safer than I anticipated though it was nonetheless very slippery with slush, moist snow, mud, and some precipitous drops in case you misplaced your footing. But it surely was a quick exit that did save greater than an hour if we’d come down the Jewell Path as a substitute. It wouldn’t be my desire, nevertheless it’s an excellent choice to find out about if it’s important to get off Washington quick.
Beneficial Guidebooks and Maps:
Editor’s word: In the event you’re fascinated by shopping for gear that we’ve reviewed or advocate on SectionHiker, you possibly can assist assist us within the course of. Simply click on on any of the vendor hyperlinks above, and in case you make a purchase order, we might (however not at all times) obtain a small proportion of the transaction. The price of the product is identical to you however this helps us proceed to check and write unsponsored and unbiased gear evaluations, newbie FAQs, and free mountain climbing guides. Thanks and we respect your assist!