Mt. Washington

Trip Start Jul 22, 2012
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Trip End Oct 13, 2012


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Flag of United States  , New Hampshire
Saturday, August 25, 2012

The morning at West Augusta Lakeside Resort was spent catching up on e-mails and business issues. Barb had a nice conversation with our campsite neighbor Vicky. Vicky and her husband live on a farm in the area and grow hay….while its growing she spends her time on the lake and he travels. Barb was amazed to learn that this large lake would completely freeze in the winter…..aaaahhhhh, the innocence of being raised in Florida.

Our ultimate goal today is Mount Washington in New Hampshire, highest point on the eastern seaboard. Mt. Washington is in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, each mountain was named for a president, with the exception of Mt. Clay, named for Henry Clay a prominent politician during Lincoln’s time. Mr. Clay is losing his place amongst the greats at the end of this year, as the NH legislature has voted to rename the mountain after Ronald Reagan. Seems fair as Clay was never a president, Reagan was, in addition to being governor of California and a movie star (Bedtime for Bonzo anyone?).

The attraction of Mt. Washington is two fold for us. First of all, it has the world’s oldest cog wheel mountain railway. Now, you can hike up to the summit in about 4 hours (naaaaahhhhh) or you can drive up to the summit (naaaaahhhh) or you can ride the train. Built in the 1860’s the cog railroad has been ferrying tourists up to the peak for the views and…..the weather. Mt. Washington is renowned as the home of the worst weather on the planet. It sits at the convergence of three different weather patterns:: cold front from Canada, warm front from the Gulf Stream and another warm front from the southwest. These systems collide quite often leading to hurricane like conditions atop the summit on a regular basis. Weather record keeping has been going on here sporadically since the 1800s and non stop since the 1930s when a year round operation was established. World record wind velocity of 237 mph was clocked here in 1937. Our weather was a little overcast, but warm and calm.

The summit was packed with people, hikers, bikers, drivers and those of us who came up the old fashioned way, by cog train. The Appalachian trail crosses the summit, so some of these hikers look well worn. They are getting close to the end of the Appalachian trail in Northern Maine at Mt. Katahdin, only another couple of weeks up the trail….

After returning to the base by train, we start thinking a place to park for the night. Every campground we stop at is full up, they suggest crossing down to the scenic drive across the White Mountains. On the way down to route 121, we find a logging access road and decide to just park in a clearing off of the road. It’s quiet, no lights and we are self contained, seems okay. Wellllllll, apparently it isn’t okay. Even though it is a national forest area, the logging land is considered private as the local constable explained to us, “You can’t camp here!” No “Good evening, where are you folks from?” to warm up the discourse. Just a quick lecture and instructions on how to find “legal” campground an hour down the road. So we pack up our yahtzee game and adult libations and spin on down the highway.

At the Swift River Campground, the campground host was able to accommodate us. There was one space available as one of their guests had to leave to fix something on their rig. “Just leave their chairs and table cloth alone, they plan to be back tomorrow.” No worries, mate, we won’t be leaving the rv until daylight.

Tomorrow, Vermont!
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