Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Aug 31, 2008
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Fall

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 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 WashingtonTimes were good at this point.

We hit the bowl, and we could see the ominous front higher up along the ridge.
Mount WashingtonUmmm....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 BowlHer 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 SeptemberThe 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 GreylockMount 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.


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Deltaoperator17 - Feb 11, 2009 2:56 pm - 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,


Stu Brandel

Stu Brandel - Feb 11, 2009 3:50 pm - Voted 10/10

Married with Climbs

A great example of the under-reported 'hiking with a spouse' genre. Well done.


maddie77777 - Feb 11, 2009 8:41 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Next time

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!


Tracy - Feb 11, 2009 10:22 pm - Voted 10/10

Very entertaining account

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 :)


maddie77777 - Feb 12, 2009 9:10 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Very entertaining account

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!


TJ311 - Feb 13, 2009 6:36 pm - Voted 10/10

Love the quotes

from your wife!! She certainly sounds like a trooper!


EastKing - Feb 15, 2009 5:50 am - 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.


MarkDidier - Feb 15, 2009 11:28 am - Voted 10/10

An Entertaining Read!

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

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



lcarreau - Feb 15, 2009 1:33 pm - Voted 10/10

We definitely need

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!


imzadi - Feb 15, 2009 9:17 pm - Voted 10/10

Hurracaine Ike

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.


Dartmouth Hiker

Dartmouth Hiker - Feb 16, 2009 12:26 am - Hasn't voted

Great TR!

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 :)


lcarreau - Feb 16, 2009 1:04 am - Voted 10/10

Cheese and chocolate

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



kpthomson - Feb 16, 2009 5:06 pm - Hasn't voted

What a trooper

Your wife that is :-)
Been battered by them winds too, toping out into the Alpine Garden.
Very entertaining, used some of them quotes too.


silversummit - Feb 16, 2009 5:43 pm - Hasn't voted

I'm a bit like you maddie77777

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?


maddie77777 - Feb 16, 2009 6:01 pm - Hasn't voted

Wow, thanks to everyone for commenting!

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.


bakesesale - Feb 18, 2009 2:41 pm - Voted 9/10

calm AFTER the storm

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.


Holsti97 - Feb 20, 2009 10:03 am - Hasn't voted

Boot camp....

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!


maddie77777 - Feb 20, 2009 10:28 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Boot camp....

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!

TimmyTrekker - Feb 20, 2009 2:29 pm - Hasn't voted

very cool!

Storm shots are very interesting, very nice blog and pictures.


Forager - Sep 4, 2010 9:41 am - Hasn't voted

Thanks for a great story...

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.

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