The White Mountains (That Aren’t White)

Good guessin’. You were all on the right track with the whole color thing, but the blue-looking mountains are actually the White Mountains of good ol’ New Hampshire! Tom H. tells us more about the photograph and his experience in a funny, real-time style entry. Enjoy:

This photo proves that you don’t need to go too far afield to travel. I took these photos while hiking the Presidential Traverse in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The Dolly Copp campground, where the hike started, is just 175 miles from Boston.

The Presidential Traverse is a hike that hits the summits of Mts. Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower, Pierce, and Jackson. My co-workers who organized the hike decided to add Clay, Franklin, and Webster as well (you know, ’cause they’re on the way). It’s been a struggle to figure out how best to share what was a pretty grueling experience for me. In the end I’ve decided to steal Bill Simmons’ running diary style…

2:00 AM – Wake up. Eat granola bar. Feel like death.

2:50 AM – Arrive at Dolly Copp campground in Gorham, NH. I still don’t fully realize what I’m in for. Want to be excited, but it’s still too early.

Tom H (right) and friends. Dolly Copp, NH.

3:00 AM – Start hiking. Too dark to see, using headlamps. The blood starts flowing. I’m beginning to feel awake.

5:00 AM – Missed a turn back there. We’re now lost in the pre-dawn darkness. Not a good way to start.

5:50 AM – Mt. Madison summit. One down, ten to go. Cold, windy, and slippery. Tough combo.

Mt. Madison. White Mountains, NH.

6:00 AM – Madison Spring Hut. The guests there were just starting to wake up. They seemed confused as to how we got there, as we weren’t there for dinner the night before. I too, was starting to wonder what I was doing there. Then we explained our story. People were impressed. I started to feel better.

7:15 AM – Mt. Adams summit. Two down. Nothing too exciting. More cold, more slippery.

8:45 AM – Mt. Jefferson summit. Three down. Sun is out. Rocks are drying. Not landing on my tuckus as often.

10:00 AM – Mt. Clay summit. Four Down. Clay isn’t very tall, but there is a huge dip between Jefferson and Clay. My legs are unhappy, and it’s not even noon. Not a good sign.

10:20 AM – Large Navigational Error #2. We missed a trail somewhere and ended up hiking half a lap around Mt. Washington before heading up. Silver lining: we got to see the Cog Railway up close.

11:00 AM – Mt. Washington summit. Five down, six to go. I have mixed feelings about the other folks at the top of Washington who got up at 10:00 AM and drove to the summit. Can you be envious of and sorry for someone at the same time?

Tom H (left) and friends. Mt. Washington summit.

11:45 AM – Lunch is over and we head down to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut. Another sweet hut. I recommend spending some time there.

1:00 PM – Mt. Monroe summit. Six down. In the groove. Feeling strong.

Tom H. on Mt. Monroe, with Mt. Washington in distance.

1:15 PM – Stop to take photo that will appear as a Mystery Snapshot in Travels with Tavel four years later. [Can I interject a HA! here?! – Tavel]

1:30 PM – Mt. Franklin summit. Seven down. Still groovin’. Still strong.

2:15 PM – Mt. Eisenhower summit. Eight down. No longer groovin’. No longer strong. My legs are thinking about mutiny.

Tom H. and friends on Mt. Eisenhower with Mt. Washington farther in the distance.

3:30 PM – Mt. Pierce summit. Nine down. Here’s a small sample of my gait at this point: Step, rest, groan, rest, groan, step. My pace has slowed a touch.

3:45 PM – Mizpah Spring Hut. Wow, these huts are great. Too bad we can’t stay, must finish hike.

3:47 PM – Large Navigation Error #3. We head down the wrong trail for a while.

4:12 PM – Mizpah Spring Hut. Nice to be back. Maybe we’ll pick the right trail this time.

4:30 PM – Mt. Jackson summit. Oh wait, no. Summit of small hill. Crap. I am exhausted. That big guy over there is Jackson? Seriously? Son of a… Alright let’s get going.

5:00 PM – Mt. Jackson summit. Ten down, one to go. I want to go home. Who’s idea was this?

6:00 PM – Mt. Webster summit. Eleven down, zero to go! Whoohoo, we’re done! Now we just have to scamper back to the car we left at end of the trail. The car is four miles away? That’s quite the scamper.

Mt. Webster, with Mt. Washington very far in the distance.

7:00 PM – How is it possible that we’re still going? Did we leave the car back in Mass? There are three-year-olds that would be jealous of my whining abilities right now.

8:22 PM – Trail sign tells us that we have two miles to go. I almost collapse at the news. The sign can’t be right. There’s no more light, we can’t spend another two hours out here. This has to stop. Maybe we should just camp here for the night? Maybe I can just crawl to the finish. Yeah, that might work.

8:23 PM – Read the sign again. .2 miles to go. Stupid darkness, stupid decimal point. Let’s get outta here.

8:23:20 PM – Break out in a run for the car. Where did I get this energy? Is it a good idea to be running through a dusky forest? Let’s not think about that.

8:30 PM – Car! We can go home! I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this accomplished.
So in the end, the hike was an amazing experience. I could see myself doing it about once every 5 years. Remember to thoroughly explore you’re own backyards. You don’t have to be too far away to Travel with Tavel.

This Google Map shows all the peaks.

NOTE: All the photographs in this entry were provided by Tom H. Thank you, Tom, for sharing your experience AND your photographs!


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4 responses to “The White Mountains (That Aren’t White)

  1. katie

    does that mean he’s up for doing this hike again next year? (since it’s every 5 years, and he took those photos 4 years ago…)

  2. Tom H

    Are you saying you’re interested? I’m game. Maybe even bump it up to this summer.

  3. That’s an impressive hike! I love the White Mountains but not sure I love them enough to climb 10 mountains in a little over one day! I’ll stick to staying at my favorite resorts and hiking one mountain at a time. You did get some great pics of the area.

  4. Geordie

    Respect to the Simmons running diary format. Yup, these are Tavel’s readers (in a good way).

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