The goal this summer was to hike Mt. Washington. The most prominent peak east of the Mississippi. If you’ve ever entertained this thought, you well know Mt. Washington is also known for its extremely dangerous, rapidly changing weather conditions. The mountain has the fastest recorded wind speed (not associated with a natural disaster like a hurricane) atop its peak. It is also situated perfectly in geography to allow for practically all weather patterns to cross directly over it on their way over the United States. (Mumbles a sarcastic, “sweeeet!”) My fear of its weather is probably what built this trek up in my head as a near impossible feat. The good things is, it wasn’t. It doesn’t have to be for you either, should you ever want to scratch this beautiful, fun hike with majestic views off of your New Englander’s bucket list! It was, simply, AMAZING!
True to form, my trek (with my boyfriend), included some training hikes! Mt. Washington is 6,288ft with approximately 1000ft in elevation change basically every mile. The most popular trail (Tuckerman’s Ravine), is about 4.2miles. That’s a lot of elevation gain across a fairly short distance. Then of course, there’s coming back down….
Working your way back down a hike often proves harder as your legs have just powered and hauled you (and your stuff) up to whatever peak you’ve set your sights on; and, just when they’re all tapped-out, you force them to use finesse and control, and ever so carefully, keep your ass from tumbling down some rocks down to the bottom. Yup. Your asking your body to control itself with “eccentric” contractions, which is truly a strength building, but exhausting muscle contraction where the muscle works as it lengthens. This is where injuries happen. I tend to roll my ankles (can’t control that, really), so a little tip, I invested in the NH Hike-Safe Card. It’s basically AAA for outdoor adventurers in New Hampshire, so you don’t have to pay the rescue helicopter fees… as long as you didn’t do anything stupid to require a rescue. I’ll pay $25 to avoid $2,500! Going down Mt. Washington was/is a beast (no matter what trail you choose), but the achievement and the views are guaranteed worth the soreness!
My training began with improving my endurance. Running. Not my first love. Not my even my second. But getting better at it improved my aerobic capacity for my hiking goal- and personal goal of general aerobic improvements. I had done some 5Ks last year, and thought this year, let’s go for 10! So I ran in the BAA 10K- which was actually very fun (never thought I’d say that). You can see I’m also thrilled to be finishing in this photo (and in my desired time)! (A shout-out to Santina for being my training partner, and making this a goal of her’s as well- she killed it!)
During my running training, my bf and I had our little summer vacation to Acadia National Park in Maine (“Vacationland” as it’s called), and of course did some hiking and mountain biking…sometimes both in the same day…because apparently we can’t stop! This was a hike up Beachcroft Path, a little more than 2 miles. Acadia in early June was awesome- less people on trails= faster down-hills on the bike!
The bigger, “longer” hikes occurred through June and July. My plan was to get in at least 4 more that were progressive challenges (just like personal training!) in both elevation and length. Perhaps I was over-eager with my new “Hiking in New Hampshire” book, and my desire to see every view from every mountain, and smell every pine along the way. We did have to start squeaking in some beach days (since it wasn’t raining all summer) and family visits, so timing got tight! I was nervous we (mostly me) would not be ready for our goal to Mt. Washington for August 6th….
Stay tuned to see what hikes we did next and how you can set out your own goals to achieve! Now is the time to get back to a routine, and make it count!