Climbing Mount Washington for the First Time

16 July 2020

hike 🌎 Whites 🥾 12 miles ▲ 4657 feet ⏱ 6.9 hours

Writing this two years after the fact, this was my first (and still favorite) time climbing New Hampshire’s infamous Mount Washington! I slept at a rest stop near the VT-NH border the night before to allow me to get to Washington as fast as possible. The route I chose was the Ammonoosuc trail, mainly to avoid large crowds and maximize my chances of finding parking. I arrived and promptly started at 5:30 AM.

The trail was rocky, but manageable. It followed the Ammonoosuc River for a long while which made for a spectacular, cool view. It also allowed me to drink water liberally and filter more from the river as I went. It took about two hours to reach the Lake of the Clouds Hut. Up to this point, the hike had been easier than expected. I paused for a while to enjoy the view. Looking towards Monroe and consulting my map, I felt I had the energy to add in Mount Monroe before summiting Washington. It turns out I did, because the trail up Monroe was a quick, fun, and breathtakingly gorgeous route!

After turning back and crossing the boulder field, I set forth to summit Washington! Elevation wise, climbing from the Lake of the Clouds to the summit of Washington is similar to Elk Mountain in Pennsylvania. Of course, the terrain is significantly more technical and dangerous! After another hour, I made it to the top! Luckily, the mountain gods blessed me with clear weather, a real rarity in the Presidentials!

I made the quick jaunt over to Clay before descending the Jewell trail and driving home. By the time I reached Clay, the range had been overtaken by clouds from the west, leaving little reason to linger at the top.