Although my son is done with his list, he’s not done hiking! We have plans to hike in Vermont and Maine next summer, but until then without a list overshadowing his hiking choices, he has his choice of the entire Whites. He’d never been up to Washington via Tuckerman’s Ravine, and since this is a classic White Mountain hike, we both thought it would be good idea for him to have hiked it at least once. Personally, I hadn’t hike the entire length of the trail to Washington and back in 16 years. It was actually the first hike I did, and at the time, my husband had no idea of the monster he’d create when he took me on that hike. For fun, I’ll include some of our photos from that hike with the ones from this hike.
Monday morning we were up bright and early heading toward Pinkham Notch, with a goal of starting up around 7:30a. He likes to start early and that works well for me, too. The weather for the day was predicted to be beautiful, perfect for a hike to Washington. We started out with the temps in the low 50’s, and he didn’t want to stop for a picture, as he wanted to hike to get warmed up without having to put on a fleece and then take it off five minutes later.
We quickly made it up to Crystal Cascade and after admiring the falls, we set off up the trail, with our next destination being Hermit Lake Shelter. The trail is wide and although rocky, fairly easy hiking with a moderate grade. Getting closer to the shelter, the grade let up a bit and we cruised up to the caretakers cabin and had a nice break. While we were there, we admired the bowl, checked the map and the avalanche report board. No avalanche danger today.
Refueled and ready, we started the next section of the hike up to lip of the bowl and Tuckerman’s Junction. The first section is relatively easy with a little elevation gain and then a flatter section. Then the steeper and trickier portion is next. The trail has many rock steps, some which are wet as it curves around to the right and up the headwall. Although steep, it is short and soon enough we were past all the wet sections and heading up to Tuckerman’s Junction. This portion was much easier than Cameron thought it would be, which was a good thing.
At the junction, we took a break and although we knew we’d be rock hopping, we also knew that it would be less than a mile to the summit. The first time I’d hiked this I remember looking up at the boulder field and getting a bit demoralized, wondering how long it would take to ascend it. This time, it didn’t seem like so much of a challenge, so we set off, watching our footing and making our way up from cairn to cairn. Eventually, we started to see people sitting around on the rocks that didn’t look like they had hiked up, and sure enough we were at the lower parking lots. A quick trip up the stairs and we were on the summit. We made it up in book time, 4:15, which is reasonable considering we weren’t hiking as fast as we could and we took plenty of breaks.
On top, our first order of business was lunch. As usual, food is a favorite topic of hikers and we had already discussed lunch plans and options on the way to the summit. Even though we did have a few peanut butter sandwiches in our packs as back-up lunches, we agreed that chili and chips sounded better and decided against the ideas of hot dogs, pizza and deli sandwiches. We enjoyed our chili, and then took a tour downstairs of the Mount Washington Observatory weather museum, bought this year’s souvenir, a Marty the cat poster, and then toured summit and observation deck. By this time, we’d stayed on the summit long enough and it was almost 1:00p, and time to descend. I didn’t want to leave too much later than that so that we’d have plenty time to descend and drive home.
We moved along on the descent and before we knew it we were at Tuckerman’s Junction, then Hermit Lake and with an extra burst of energy, we picked up the pace and made it back to the car by 4:30p. We had really great hike, blessed with beautiful weather and health to enjoy all the scenery that Tuck’s could offer. It was fun to remember back to that first hike, and look at the whole thing now with a completely different perspective. Time and experience certainly change one’s perspective of a place and event!