Sunday, July 17, 2011

#4 Mt. Washington August 22, 2007.

#4 Mt. Washington via Ammonoosuc Ravine, Gulfside and Jewel trails  August 22, 2007. (State High Point #2)

Mileage: 9.6 miles (loop)

Elevation gain:  3,800'

Trailhead: Rt 302 in Bretton Woods take the Base Road 6 miles to the trailhead parking area on the right, just before the Cog Railroad. A WMNF Parking Pass is required.

Lesson learned: 
 That's not the Cog, it's THUNDER!

Hiked with Rich, Charlotte, Norm, Marie, Dave, Eileen and Art.  As was an annual tradition with the Mountain Mommas (a name Norm gave the group), we stayed at a B&B in Jackson for a few days with our sights set on peak bagging.
We parked our car at the Ammonoosuc Ravine trailhead and another at the Cog Railway base station parking lot.  The weather was warm with threat of thunderstorms in the afternoon.  

We stopped by the Gem Pool

 The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail leads to the Lake of the Clouds Hut where we stopped for a quick lunch.  From there we hiked the last mile to the top. 

Bringing hut supplies down from the summit.

Radio and TV towers on the summit

View out over the ridge.

At the top Norm was able to arrange a private tour of the weather station (he'd worked for the Observatory several years before).

On the top of the Observatory.
During our tour, Norm discreetly kept a close eye on the weather and soon urged us to get a move on back down the mountain.   Dave and Marie tried to go back down via the Cog Railway but it was too crowded and they could not get on.  

So we all started down via the Gulfside Trail to the Jewell Trail

Taking a rest on the way down.

The mountain and its ravines were huge and dramatic on this clear day.  Thunderheads were looming in the distance. Rich’s ankle started throbbing about a third of the way down.  It had been bothering him all day but he suffered in silence until it really started flaring up.  

By then he could barely walk and we had miles to go under threatening skies.

The rest of the group were nervous about the thunderheads so they headed down to tree line, leaving me, Art, and Rich to limp down.  Norm joined us and tried to convince Rich to wrap the ankle, unsuccessfully.  I could hear thunder in the distance but Art insisted that was just the Cog getting ready to head up the slopes.  I believed him.  

The noise got louder and more frequent and eventually we figured out that it was not the Cog but yes, thunder.  Rich was limping and stopping - slow going.  
We decided to take the shortcut to the Cog station since it was shorter than the trail to the car and we could seek shelter if the storm came.  Which it did.  

The woods became black as night and the thunder and lightning crashed around us as we ran into the Cog station.  Rich forgot about his sore ankle as he dashed through heavy rain toward the station.  We were wet but we made it and glad to be out of the storm.  

A few minutes later the Cog appeared at the base of the mountain.  The train and its passengers weathered the intense weather above tree line with only the car between them and the lightning.  

The passengers bolted out of that car once the doors opened!

Rainbow after the fierce weather.
A beautiful sky signaled at the end of the storm.  Rich bought a round of drinks at Fabyans, thrilled that he and his sore ankle made it down okay.

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