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A Hurricane on Mount Washington?!

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A Hurricane on Mount Washington?!

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Connecticut/Massachusetts/New Hampshire/New Jersey/Pennsylvania/Rhode Island/Vermont, United States, North America

Object Title: A Hurricane on Mount Washington?!

Date Climbed/Hiked: Aug 31, 2008

Activities: Hiking

Season: Fall


Page By: maddie77777

Created/Edited: Feb 10, 2009 / Feb 10, 2009

Object ID: 488468

Hits: 7518 

Page Score: 88.19%  - 26 Votes 

Vote: Log in to vote


A road trip out East

My wife and I decided to spend our 6-year anniversary by taking a week driving from Indianapolis to the Northeast. My wife loves it up there, and we had never been to Vermont or New Hampshire, so needless to say, I immediately began drooling over the thought of hiking Mount Washington.

We began our trip by driving to Penn State University and walking around, then spending a wonderful evening in picturesque Scranton, PA. The next morning, we drove to High Point, NJ, and walked to the top from the parking lot. It was extremely foggy, so there were absolutely no views (this may have been a good thing...it is New Jersey, right?). When I asked the girl inside the monument if she knew where the survey marker was, she gave me a look of "How big a dork are you?" that I haven't seen since 7th grade. Ok, since Thursday, but you understand.

We then headed straight for the Rhode Island high point, which as I understand, was recently granted a trail and isn't technically trespassing anymore. I don't quite understand why there were 3 survey markers there, but another one got checked off the list.

We took detours through Brown University in RI, visited Rockport, Mass, Gloucester, Mass, etc. We ate lobster and loved every second of our time in Massachusetts.

What do you mean a hurricane?!

We eventually made our way to North Conway, NH (which I've found to be a slightly more upscale version of Gatlinburg, TN. Those of you familiar with Gatlinburg know this is not necessarily a good thing.) We visited the Mt Washington ranger station at Pinkham Notch the evening before our attempt, and were told that Hurricane Ike (yes, the hurricane that hit TEXAS!) was passing through over the evening, but with any luck, would clear by the time we got up there the next day. The next morning came, and we arrived back at Pinkham Notch around 6:30am. The rangers told us in no uncertain terms that we should not attempt it that day, and that we would not make it to the top, as the winds were SUSTAINED 60-80mph, with gusts well over 100. WOW! We told them we would go to the Tuckerman bowl, and probably turn back at that point (my summit fever was already starting at that point).

We signed in at the register and started our trip up around 7 or 7:30am. I should mention at this point that my wife enjoys the outdoors, but doesn't necessarily enjoy suffering in the outdoors. Our hike up to the bowl was superb. The weather was warm, sunny, a truly beautiful New England morning.
Mount Washington
Times were good at this point.

We hit the bowl, and we could see the ominous front higher up along the ridge.
Mount Washington
Ummm....not a good sign

Spirits were still very high up the headwall. This would be fleeting, and the last time my wife would smile that day.
Tuckerman Ravine Bowl
Her last smile of the day, right here.

As we made our way up the headwall, the temperatures began to drop drastically, and an occasional gust would slam into us. As we went up the steepest point of the headwall, it was as calm and quiet as it could be. As I got to the top of the headwall and got closer to the ridge, the wind and rain were absolutely pounding me. I often had to keep all four appendages on the rocks in order to keep from getting blown over. I decided to go as far as I could before I hit a point where I felt my wife would be in danger. I went as far as the Tuckerman crossing and decided to call it quits. Mount Washington had blasted me with everything she had, and I didn't feel safe going any higher. At this point, with the cold, and the wet, and the wind, and most importantly the rocky terrain, my wife's mood changed suddenly. She no longer wanted to do this. Rather than head back down the Tuckerman, we thought the Lion Head route would offer more manageable terrain (oops).

My wife is an extremely slow hiker to begin with. On wet rock, every step of hers must be carefully placed, and no weight is transferred until both feet are solidly placed. I am opposite in that I'm essentially a mountain goat. My size 14s grab the rock and hold it, period. Hers, not so much. As such, going down was extremely tough on the wife. Her knees were hurting, she was cold, wet, and exhausted (we ARE from Indiana, you know).

We hit the low point of the day when I looked back, saw my wife further up the route, watched her take a step down, saw her wrench her knee a tiny, tiny bit, and then I saw the tears. She quietly began to sob, then a snot trail began forming from her nose. The wind then got hold of said snot trail, and it eventually grew to roughly 3 feet long! The tears and Guinness World Record snot trail were too much for me. I felt so bad for her, but speaking to her was not what she wanted at this point.

Some of her best quotes from our trip include:

1. I just want to get off this ****ing mountain!!
2. (When I pressed her to move faster) "I'm not getting injured for this ****!
3. (Near the bottom, when I told her "Hey, you definitely earned your dinner today"), "When we get home, I'm going on Ebay and selling all this hiking **** and taking that money and buying myself a new purse".
4. We found a Dunkin' Donuts after we left, and she told the employee, "Give me the biggest coffee you have ever made".

The entire trip took NINE hours due to my wife's slow movement, but she was a true trooper, and while we didn't make the summit, we had an amazing time (as well as some long-lasting knee damage. Bonus!) We drove to Stowe,VT that night, ate a monstrous pizza, then planned our hike up Mansfield the next day.

The day after hurricanes are always great.

For Mount Mansfield, we just drove up the $23 toll road and hiked the 3 miles roundtrip to the top. It was absolutely magical. The clouds broke when we got to the top, and we were granted incredible views.
Mount Mansfield in September
The views were incredible!

We left Stowe and stopped in Woodstock, VT before staying just north of North Adams, MA, for my attempt at Mount Greylock the next day.

Summit of Mount Greylock
Mount Greylock

My wife decided to visit North Adams while I hiked Greylock, and I made incredible time going up without her. The hike was fairly uneventful, other than the fact that all that pizza I ate eventually (due to the natural digestive process) had to make its way back out. I set a personal record on my deposit off the Greylock trail. (seriously, there's styrofoam in landfills that will break down faster than my "product") My apologies to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and its people.

We snacked on some Cabot Sharp cheese purchased in Stowe and made our way to Mt. Frissell and were able to tackle that highpoint right before sundown, with our plan to drive to Gettysburg the next day, and then hit Mount Davis in PA the next day.

What a great trip

Our trip was a very memorable experience. We visited beautiful countryside in NH and VT, and I cannot wait to make a return trip to Mount Washington to try it again. I don't think my wife will join me, she'll enjoy the sights and sounds of North Conway next time. I also got to add 6 more highpoints, and a nice story of failure on Washington. That brings my total to 14, with my goal to hit 9 more this year. Thanks to all those that read this, I realize I can be a bit wordy.


The Top of Vermont


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Voted 10/10

You are so lucky to be alive! Not for the dangers on the mountain but the weather storm from a Women who is not happy!

All my best,

Posted Feb 11, 2009 2:56 pm

Stu BrandelMarried with Climbs

Stu Brandel

Voted 10/10

A great example of the under-reported 'hiking with a spouse' genre. Well done.
Posted Feb 11, 2009 3:50 pm

maddie77777Re: Next time


Hasn't voted

Exactly right! It would have been nice to see the views from the top, but our perfect day the next day in Vermont was nice. At least now I can say I hiked nearly all the way up the mountain with "the world's worst weather" in hurricane winds! I think based on my topo map, I got as close as two-tenths away from the top. Granted, I couldn't see more than 50 feet in front of me, but feeling that wind was absolutely exhilarating!
Posted Feb 11, 2009 8:41 pm

TracyVery entertaining account


Voted 10/10

Your wife is either an awfully good sport or you're confident she'll never read your trip report on SP!

I really enjoyed your descriptive prose, especially the part that reads, "She quietly began to sob, then a snot trail began forming from her nose. The wind then got hold of said snot trail, and it eventually grew to roughly 3 feet long! The tears and Guinness World Record snot trail were too much for me."

You go on to quote some of her choice statements...I'm just imagining what my wife would do if she knew I'd written so descriptively about her... She might enlist help to sabotage my contributions to Summitpost.

You are a daring and entertaining writer :)
Posted Feb 11, 2009 10:22 pm

maddie77777Re: Very entertaining account


Hasn't voted

Ha! She's a good sport. Luckily, she'll probably never read this trip report, but when that "thing" started from her nose, and seeing she was too upset to even care about it, I just felt so bad about it. Granted, I had to turn around so she couldn't see me laughing, but I did feel terrible for her. I made up for it by getting her a lot of cheese at the Cabot cheese plant outside Stowe, VT, the next day (she really likes cheese). That, and the views from Mt Mansfield, made up for a bad day the previous day. Thanks for reading!
Posted Feb 12, 2009 9:10 am

TJ311Love the quotes


Voted 10/10

from your wife!! She certainly sounds like a trooper!
Posted Feb 13, 2009 6:36 pm



Voted 10/10

Entertaining trip report.

Probably should have altered your plans and did Mt. Washington the next day! That mountain is not fun when the weather is bad! But when it is nice the views are worth it. Your wife was a trooper and hopefully you will be back to tackle Mt. Washington and beyond.

Posted Feb 15, 2009 5:50 am

MarkDidierAn Entertaining Read!


Voted 10/10

Very humorous & well written. My wife wouldn't have made it that far!

Hopefully you'll have better luck bagging Washington next time.

Posted Feb 15, 2009 11:28 am

lcarreauWe definitely need


Voted 10/10

more of this brand of humor on Summitpost!

I felt the humor factor beginning to wane, but now it appears to
be building up speed again. Thanks for this enlightening report!
Posted Feb 15, 2009 1:33 pm

imzadiHurracaine Ike


Voted 10/10

Yup...Ike's the one that stopped us from hitting Kahtadin too!!!

Actually, sounds like you are lucky to have made it...having a hiking partner that isn't really into it...and is that discouraged can be very hard.

Posted Feb 15, 2009 9:17 pm

Dartmouth HikerGreat TR!

Dartmouth Hiker

Hasn't voted

I was actually on Moosilauke (4802') leading a group of college freshmen up the summit right around the same time--even being a bit lower than you were, that was definitely some of the craziest weather I've experienced up there outside of winter!

Glad you made it safely back; Mt. Wash will be there another day. Visit the area for several days and pick a window of good weather--it'll be worth it :)
Posted Feb 16, 2009 12:26 am

lcarreauCheese and chocolate


Voted 10/10

make great peace offerings! Hey, that makes me want to run to
the fridge and grab some cheese. Thanks for including the cheese!!

Posted Feb 16, 2009 1:04 am

kpthomsonWhat a trooper


Hasn't voted

Your wife that is :-)
Been battered by them winds too, toping out into the Alpine Garden.
Very entertaining, used some of them quotes too.
Posted Feb 16, 2009 5:06 pm

silversummitI'm a bit like you maddie77777


Hasn't voted

If I have a chance I'll go for a summit but I learned many years ago that dear husband is not a hiker or camper. He tried for awhile but this (along with wallpapering) are grounds for divorce for us. But we have both compromised over the last 37 years....

Your story was both sad and funny! Did she worry about you when you were hiking?
Posted Feb 16, 2009 5:43 pm

maddie77777Wow, thanks to everyone for commenting!


Hasn't voted

I just got back from hitting 3 more highpoints this weekend. My sister had to join me this time since the wife couldn't get Monday off, and now I think my sis caught the hiking bug too. You guys are right, Mount Washington will always be there, and if I had it to do over again, I'd do it all the same. That weather was incredible, and I'm glad I was there for it.
Posted Feb 16, 2009 6:01 pm

bakesesalecalm AFTER the storm


Voted 9/10

Everyone always talks about the calm before the storm, but the calm after the calm after the storm is always beautiful. I don't think i would have wanted to climb a mountain in the middle of a hurricane. Congratulations on making it back down safe.
Posted Feb 18, 2009 2:41 pm

Holsti97Boot camp....


Hasn't voted

is what my wife calls our highpointing "vacations". We have done 22 state highpoints together. I always tell her that she can plan our next vacation. My wife doesn't swear, but she has come close on some of our climbs. On Mount Marcy I forced her to climb up the final ledge in a driving rain storm with 60 mph winds. She reluctantly did because I told her, "you can't count it unless you touch the highpoint." Her summit photo was less than flattering. On Mount Frissell we took the "shortcut" back to the car and ended up in a different state after climbing down the very steep South Taconic Trail. Guess I should have brought a compass along as we ended up hitchhiking back to our car. We climbed White Butte in North Dakota in the dark and she thought we were going to step on a rattlesnake. Despite all of that she wants to go along on many of my remaining 15 highpoint climbs. Especially Hawaii!
Posted Feb 20, 2009 10:03 am

maddie77777Re: Boot camp....


Hasn't voted

That's still great that your wife WANTS to touch the summit. Mine could care less about getting there. She always lets me know where the road is to drive to the top, lol, instead of hiking. She loves being outside, but the grueling aspect of the hikes she doesn't care for too much. She had some more choice words for me coming down the Taconic Trail as well, that was much steeper than we were ready for. Plus, the sun was setting as we came down, which only added to her anxiety. Good luck with the last 15!
Posted Feb 20, 2009 10:28 am

TimmyTrekkervery cool!

Hasn't voted

Storm shots are very interesting, very nice blog and pictures.
Posted Feb 20, 2009 2:29 pm

ForagerThanks for a great story...


Hasn't voted

You have goaded me to contribute some hiking tales my husband and I have taken on Mt. Washington over the years. Similar situation, only he is slow (arthritis) and I am the over extending Billy Goat. One time we ended up bushwacking our way to the summit because I took a trail the ended a mile before.
Now that was a trip. Then there was the time he wandered off to explore Boote Spur and I lost an hour looking for him in a Ravine I thought he fell into.

Excellent tale.
Posted Sep 4, 2010 9:41 am

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