Mt Monroe and Mt Washington
2011 Dec 17
Kris Cyr and Fred Knight
Fred's Home

We expected a strenuous hike and cold with clearing skies and light wind. We got a workout and the cold temperatures, but there were only a couple moments of the sun breaking through on Mt Washington and significant breeze atop Mt Monroe.

After the 3-hour drive, we reached the trailhead just after 8am and got going at 8:25. The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail gradually increases in steepness; we made good time. The section near 3400' and above got icy. After a couple slips we donned crampons and headed toward Lake of the Clouds Hut at 5100' elevation. Four Canadians, who started at the cog railway parking lot, stayed near us.

We donned our "big-gun" garments at the Hut and ascended another 300' to Mt Monroe under opaque, breezy conditions. When the wind increased, I had to tie my hood string and felt some bone-chilling cold in my bare hands. The wool mittens got my fingers warm again. Kris lead the way to the top, but we did not linger long. Back at the Hut, the Canadians emerged from their lunch break on the leeward patio. We all headed for Mt Washington, another 1100' up and presumably 1.4 miles away. Using our actual route, the distance was 2.1 miles. Rats!

MtWashMap2011Dec17.jpgThere are three trails leading to the first trail junctions below the summit. It was apparent that the route we took did not get us to the leftmost junction as we expected. The Canadians were with us and chose one path, but the one we took looked like it was going up more. Kris and I got to two more junctions and finally a sign that we uncovered and read: "Mt Washington 0.6." We slogged our way to the top. It was cold, but the wind had dropped. I was warm and working hard. From the map, it appears we did about 0.7 miles more than we planned, along Davis Path. Following the Canadians would have been the second best action. Finally we reached the summit at 1:30pm, somewhat later than we had hoped. With the sun setting near 4pm, we ate some much-needed lunch in the lee of the weather observatory and then headed toward the Jewell Trail.

Again, we saw the Canadians who had also made it to the top via their route and were heading down next to cog railway to reach the Jewell Trail junction. The snow was insufficnet to provide a base for crampons, so we took them off. I used my microspikes for the remainder of the hike; Kris barebooted.

The Jewell Trail gradually flattened and there was cushioning snow below treeline. We made good time but still didn't get back until 4:48. By that time, there were stars appearing, indicating the clearing had finally occurred. It was about 12 deg F at the car, so presumably at the top, 4000' higher and a couple hours earlier, it had been near the expected 5 deg F.

Gear I need: more powerful headlamp, goggles, balaclava, and addition to my microspikes to keep them from sliding off my toes.

Summary: 8.5 hours, 1.2 mph average including breaks, 10+ miles, 4100' elevation gain, pretty cold with some breeze but only moments of blue sky, otherwise opaque clouds
previous next Fred's Home 8 images
Kris at start of the hike
Kris at start of the hike
We got going by 8:25---into the woods we go.
Fred in similar pose.
Fred in similar pose.
Notice the gung-ho look of anticipation.
Kris in profile at falls along the trail
Kris in profile at falls along the trail
The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail parallels the brook and sometimes uses it!
Higher up along Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail
Higher up along Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail
Soon after this point we donned crampons.
Just above Lake of the Clouds Hut (closed!)
Just above Lake of the Clouds Hut (closed!)
After doing Mt. Monroe, we started toward the Mt Washington Summit. The friendly Canadians are above us.
Nearing Mt Washington summit
Nearing Mt Washington summit
After taking a few short trails that made the trek to the top the slog of the trip, we got to the summit at 1:30 and had some much-needed lunch.
Kris posing on the lower part of the Jewel Trail
Kris posing on the lower part of the Jewel Trail
With the sun soon to set, we got this view toward Bretton Woods.
Fred with late-day smile
Fred with late-day smile
We wanted to get back to the car before full darkness but took time for a photo enroute.