Member Trip report
Mts Washington & Monroe Snowshoe
Trip Report/Photos from shep5
On Saturday, February 23rd, it was forecast to be very mild with temperatures in the 20's at higher elevations with relatively low wind and partly sunny skies. I had a few hikes in mind, but I wanted to see where the cloud ceiling was before committing. Heading through Franconia Notch the ridge was clear with some thin clouds brushing the summits of Cannon and the Kinsmans. I continued up to Twin Mountain and the Presidential Range was clear as a bell, so that was it...I would hike Mts. Washington and Monroe. I drove up the Base Station Road carefully, as the surface was ice-covered and I arrived at the Cog Railroad's Parking Lot at about 7:15AM. As a side note, they are now charging $10/person to hike from their property (this seems to have doubled from last year, but it is slightly more convenient than the WMNF parking further down the road).
I quickly got ready (doning snowshoes) and headed out by 7:30AM. The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail was well broken out and the inital portion of this was relatively easy with only minimal grade as it followed the Ammonoosuc River up into the ravine. I made good time and I reached the trailside pool at 8:20. After this the trail steepened significantly. Traction was pretty good and I didn't have too much trouble climbing this section of trail. After another 40 minutes I was starting to get views down over the valley and towards the summit of Mt. Washington. By 9:20 I had broken treeline and was heading up towards the hut. Tracks left the actual trail and climbed up the open portion of the ravine. This was covered in a crusty rime ice for the most part, and traction was not too much of a problem. I reached the Lake of the Clouds Hut at 9:45AM. The hut's eastern face was almost completely buried by drifts. The skies were crystal clear and I had awesome views up to Washington and Monroe, as well as the Franconia Notch peaks to the south. I decided I would climb Mt. Monroe first and I headed up to the over-the-summit trail. It appeared that I was the first to climb this summit as there were no visible tracks. I could make out the first part of the trail as the trail is lined with rocks, but after that there was no trace of it. I knew the trail headed west a bit before climbing to the summit, but I just headed straight up. This was icy and very steep, but after a couple of tries I was able to get up and over the final ledge to where it leveled out as the trail turned towards the summit. I reached the summit of Mt. Monroe (5384') at 10:15. It was beautiful with views over towards Mt. Isolation and southward towards the Pemigewasset Wilderness. There was a pretty modest wind across the summit, but nothing like it could have been.
I started back down, retracing my steps to the hut. On the way down, I starting running into other hikers and of course they were all following my steep route up. I made it to the hut again at 10:30 and I headed for Mt. Washington. As the cairns were a little difficult to see, I ended up following the cairns for the Tuckerman Cross and turned onto the Davis Path to get back to the Crawford Path (reaching this by 11:20). From here it steepened considerably for the final 0.6 mile to the summit. I slowed up a bit and it took me about 55 minutes to reach the summit of Mt. Washington (6288'). It was really amazing with crystal clear views in all directions. There were winds of 35-40 mph, when I was in areas unobstructed by buildings. After getting a summit photo and checking out the view from the observation deck, I headed around to the building's entrance. Although the building is closed to hikers, there had been an alcove at the entrance in the past to get out of the wind. This was no longer the case with the building reconfiguration. There were dozens of hikers around taking advantage of the mild conditions with some sitting along the building, but it was a bit too windy. I headed back towards the Tip-Top House and took a break sitting on a rock in front of it (it blocked a good deal of the wind).
After a bit of a rest at the top, I began heading back down...returning by the same route as I climbed up. I couldn't really see the initial portion of the trail, but I could make out the cairns below along the Crawford Path and I just headed down directly towards the main part of the trail. As I made my way back towards the hut, there was a pretty constant stream of hikers headed for the summit. My progress was good now that I was descending and I reached the hut again by 1:20PM (this time I followed the Crawford Path all the way). At the hut I turned back down into the open part of the Ammonoosuc Ravine and followed this until it finally coincided with the trail. It was steep and eventually I gave into gravity and just buttslid down a few of the longer stretches of trail. By 2:25 I reached the pool at the base and after this the trail again moderated for a more relaxing walk back to the parking lot, which I made by 3:10PM.
It was a really amazing day for winter on Mt. Washington. It truly doesn't get much better than this! With full sun, modest wind and temperatures around 20, it almost felt like cheating for a winter hike on a mountain with very harsh conditions more often than not. In any case it was hard to let the opportunity pass by and given the number of other hikers out, they were all apparently taking advantage of the mild conditions as well.
Total distance and elevation gain: About 9.8 miles with approximately 4200 feet in cumulative elevation gain.
There are 24 photos in Album (Note: Move mouse pointer over larger pic and click on NEXT for better viewing)
Best pictures I've seen anywhere of these mountains and trails! I really appreciate your detailed descriptions and photos that accompany them, brings it alive for me. Congratulations, you're very modest!
Beautiful pics! Congratulations!!!