Mt. Washington Seek the Peak 7.19.2014

I hiked an enjoyable loop over Mt. Washington via Direttissma, Glen Boulder Trail, Davis Path, and Crawford Path for the ascent, and via Nelson Crag Trail and Old Jackson Road on the descent, starting and ending at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. This loop was a great way to avoid most of the crowds on a busy Saturday featuring decent weather and low winds on the summits. The summit of Washington itself was crowded with the the usual mix of tourists and hikers, plus it was “Seek the Peak” weekend, the annual hiking fundraiser for the Mt. Washington Observatory.

I was a Seek the Peak fundraiser, finding out about the program just a week before this hike. Thanks to all of you that contributed! Next year, I hope to raise a bit more money for MWO.

I started the hike up at 6am, and didn’t see a soul on Direttissma or Glen Boulder trails. It only on Davis Path near Crawford when I started sharing trail with others. On the descent, I was alone almost the whole time. I crossed a few folks coming up from Huntington Ravine trail, and passed a couple from New Jersey on the way down. A speedy hiker passed me near the upper section of the auto road, but not before we commiserated about Nelson Crag’s steepness & bouldering in the second mile or so. After that, I was alone again all the way back to the visitor center.

As far as difficulty, Direttissima was a simple mile, with some minor ups/downs. Glen Boulder was a pure delight to ascend, with a little bit of boulder scrambling. Davis Path and Crawford Path are well maintained with sure footing. Nelson Crag is really just a trail over boulders marked by cairns, and is a rough footpath in general. I made good progress for a while, but once the descent steepened, I struggled for footing, each step an — interesting — decision. Once back into the woods, Nelson Crag Trail was tough – steep, rough, and lots of butt-sliding much of the way back to Old Jackson Road. OJR is a very wide footpath as its name implies, well-graded and maintained as a part of the AT, but otherwise unremarkable.

All in all, a fabulous loop, and one I hope to do again someday. And lots of redlining to add to the spreadsheet!

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I registered for Seek the Peak at the MWO Weather Discovery Center in North Conway on Friday night.

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I camped at Moose Brook State Park in Gorham Friday night so that I could get a good early start the next morning. Moose Brook was a beautiful campground.

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Pinkham Notch Visitor Center about 5:45am on Saturday morning. The lot was about 75% full already.

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A bridge along Direttissima.

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Sunrise over Wildcat range along Direttissima.

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Boulder scramble along Glen Boulder Trail. I put my poles away for that one.

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Glen Boulder. It’s really, really large – and perched on what appears to be an impossibly small resting spot.

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Glen Boulder Trail goes back into the woods after a good spell out in the open.

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Slide Peak cairn along Glen Boulder Trail, looking up to Boott Spur.

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Looking back through Pinkham Notch towards the Carters from Slide Peak.

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Near Boott Spur along Davis Path, looking towards Mt. Washington.

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Entrance to the Extreme Mount Washington exhibit. Seek the Peak participants got in for free.

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View of Tip Top House from the MWO tower. Seek the Peak participants were treated to a tour of MWO, so this was a special deal to go up into the tower.

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The crow’s nest at the very top of the MWO tower.

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View of Mt. Washington summit area from the Observatory tower crow’s nest.

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Marty, MWO’s resident cat. Marty is a bit of a celebrity. There’s Marty merchandise if you shop around.

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The brown sign just off of center to the right is for Nelson Crag Trail. It’s a little hard to find. I had to fight through a crowd of folks getting on the Cog Railway.

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View of Mt. Washington summit from Ball Crag.

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Along Nelson Crag Trail. The upper section is open and exposed to the weather, which is part of the reason I decided to bag it. The weather was decent and the winds very low. The trail itself is challenging enough, with lots of loose rocks and large boulders to clamber over. No need to complicate the hike with bad weather if you can help it.

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Along Nelson Crag Trail, looking back at a section of rock I’d just come down.

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Once descending back below treeline, Nelson Crag Trail offered several opportunities for butt-sliding.

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Nelson Crag Trail and Old Jackson Road meet with a junction of bog bridges.

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Old Jackson Road just behind Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.

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