June 1, 2016

Mount Washington

Traverse training continues!  Over Memorial Day weekend, my aunt and uncle were kind enough to host the whole family at the condo in Bartlett, NH.  My parents also came along and they offered to watch Toby and Tyler for a day while Katy and I head off and do a hike.  With our planned Presidential Traverse in only a few weeks, we decided that Mount Washington would be a good warmup hike to get us ready.

After getting the kids up and fed on Sunday morning, we headed off to the main Pinkham Notch trailhead and arrived there at about 9AM.  The lot was filling quickly but we found a space and headed off.  The forecast called for a mostly cloudy day with a chance of showers, and as we started up the trail, it was overcast with low clouds.  It looked like we were in for a viewless hike.  We continued on nevertheless.

The first half of Tuckerman's Ravine Trail from Pinkham Notch is a very wide, gradual, easy trail.  As usual, it was a busy trail with many other hikers going up and coming down.  We made good time and eventually came to the trail junction for Lions Head.  We opted to go up Lions Head trail as that had the main steep section at a lower elevation and we were unlikely to encounter any leftover spring snow.  As we continued to climb, surprisingly, things began to clear up.  Just as we popped out onto the ridge we began to emerge out of the clouds and were treated to an undercast below.  It's not a terribly rare weather phenomenon in these mountains but you don't see it everyday and it is a neat view.  We plodded along, taking a few breaks along the way as the summit began to become visible ahead.

As we traversed the ridge, we could see into Tuckerman's Ravine and noticed a few skiers taking runs down the last few patches of snow high up the headwall of the ravine.  It was quite the sight as there was very little snow left and it looked like quite a challenge to avoid crashing into the rocks when the snow comes to an abrupt end halfway down the headwall.  As we continued on, we soon made it to the trail junction where Lions Head Trail meets back up with Tuckerman's Ravine Trail.  Trail traffic picked up as we made the final push to the summit.

We made it to the summit at around noon, and stopped for lunch.  Conditions at the summit were better then expected, with mostly clear skies and a partial undercast below.  As usual, it was busy at the summit with tourists and hikers, and we stayed for maybe a half hour.  We began our descent back down the way we came, and opted to take Tuckerman's Ravine Trail down instead of Lion's Head.  The trail was steep as usual but in good shape.  However, there were two snow fields left that we were forced to cross, one of which was on a severe side slope.  We didn't use or bring any traction, so they definitely required some caution.  We made it down, though, and continued into the ravine.

Before long, we had made it to the Hermit Lake Shelter at the base of the ravine, and continued down the rest of the trail back to our car.  It was a nice hike on a nice day and perfect for traverse training!

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