There are hikes and then there is Mount Washington hike – have no doubt that it is bound to surprise you in one or the other way. Why??. Well for starters at 6,288 feet, Mt. Washington is the highest peak in the northeastern United States, has nearly the highest recorded windspeed in the world ( 230 mph), and undoubtedly has the world’s worst weather. And yes I can vouch for the weather part. After hiking in Patagonia for more than 100 kms in 5 days , I was looking for a challenge. Between my home improvement projects , office work and seeking perfect weather to conquer this mountain – finally the weekend arrived and we took the plunge. So here it is Hiking Mount Washington – The Tuckerman Way.
Total Hiking Distance : 8.4 miles
When to hike?
I know that Mount Washington is very popular among skiers , however I have never tried hiking up in winters. I attempted my first hike in summer , in month of August. If you are first time hikers like me , I will advice to do the same.
My Hike Day : August 20 , 2017.
Where to stay ?
Since we knew that our hiking day will require 8 to 9 hours of intense physical effort , it made more sense for us to drive a night before from Boston , camp in New Hampshire and then start our hike the next day. There are many campsites and hotels in Gorham and other small nearby towns. White mountains is pretty famous summer destination so make your bookings well in advance.
At Pinkham Notch ( starting point of trail) there is an AMC hostel that serves as an excellent base for this hike.
Note : We camped at Timberland Campsite. It had all the amenities – showers , bathrooms, sinks etc.
What to carry on hike ?
The last mile and a half of the hike is very steep and completely above the tree line. So no matter what you see when you start the hike , there is no way to predict the weather near the summit. Hence you must carry the following things :
- Minimum 2 liters of water per person. You will get the opportunity to refill the bottles at the summit and even midway at ——
- A dry shirt and extra pair of socks to change at the summit.
- Wear good hiking shoes. You will thank me later
- Hiking poles . They are not a must but they will help your knees a lot while coming down.
- A good jacket /fleece ( winter jacket preferably ) for dramatic weather transitions.
- I carried a woolen cap and I was glad that I had it since it was unbearably windy at the summit.
- Trail mix/ energy bars / anything that keeps you moving
- Not to mention camera , because if you are lucky and you get to see the sunny side of the summit – the views are amazing and you will want to take pictures.
Hiking Tips :
- Start your hike a little early. It’s a 8- 9 hour day and you will want to reach back in time .
- Pacing is the key. Many people cruise through first 2 miles , get exhausted and then literally drag themselves to the summt. Even when you reach the top , your work is half done . You have to climb down which in my view is even tougher than climbing up. It is steep ,full of big boulders and very long – in nutshell if you do not pace yourself , it will take a toll on you.
- Keep yourself hydrated. You will get water at the summit too .
- The last 1.8 miles of the hike are very-very challenging. Don’t lose the hope – you will reach to the top.
- While coming down – take Lion head trail. The views are better and it is a bit easy on the knees.
So that’s a wrap for me . Hope these tips and packing list help you in planning your hike to mount Washington. If you have not conquered this mountain yet , I will not advice to try it in winters as it can get incredibly dangerous. But for summer and fall , it can be a perfect day trip J . Have you hiked mount Washington yet? How was your experience ? Thank you so much for stopping by.