Guest Blogger- Mount Washington- Huntington Ravine Trail, NH
We are very excited to have crossed paths with Patrick Gensel who shares our same thirst for adventure and exploring the east coast as we do! Pat is an active lifestyle photographer from Northeast Pennsylvania. His wanderlust has taken him throughout North America, Iceland and Norway. When he isn’t hiking, climbing, or taking photos, he can be found tinkering with technology. We are very happy to have him share his hiking adventure at Mount Washington. Be sure to check out more of his photos and stories on Adventure Travel Buzz!
If you spend a lot of time in the west, you may not make much time for adventure in the Northeast, but despite the fact that the mountains are smaller, there is still plenty of adventure to be had. One of my favorite New England hikes is New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, via the Huntington Ravine Trail. Be forewarned, this trail is not for the faint of heart, and should only be attempted by experienced hikers when the conditions are dry since you will be ascending very steep slabby rock as you climb the headwall of Huntington Ravine.
In August of 2012, on Labor Day weekend, a small group of friends and I headed north from our homes in Pennsylvania for a weekend of camping and hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. We had spent time on the mountain in various capacities before, but we had never hiked the Huntington Ravine Trail in the summer.
With a restful night of sleep under our belts, and the coffee brewing, we began to pack our gear by the glow of our gas lantern. It may have been August, but there was a chill in the air. Our day packs included only a few things. An extra layer, plenty of water, snacks, a notebook, and a camera.
We quickly ate our breakfast and drank our coffee with anticipation of a day on the mountain with good friends and the beauty of New Hampshire. By six am, we were in the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center parking lot, a haven for New England adventurers who have Mount Washington in their sights, and the launching point for our hike. With our bags shouldered, we posed for a quick group shot to commemorate the beginning of our day on the mountain. It was Chris, Frank, Jason and myself, and what a crew we were.
The trail began as most do in the northeast, a walk through the woods, in this case on a fire road of sorts that begins to gradually wind up the base of the mountain before splitting off toward Huntington Ravine. On this side of Mountain, there are two ravines. Huntington Ravine, and the more known Tuckerman Ravine. The typical route to the summit of Mount Washington in the summer is via the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, but we chose to forgo some of the holiday crowds and took the split toward Huntington.
Our journey continued over rocks and across streams, with the occasional footbridge thrown in for good measure. We would stop from time to time noting an interesting flower, or taking photos. The trail began to steepen as the ravine came into view and we began to climb out of the trees. The fog that was hugging the mountain all morning began to break up and we started to see the grandeur of this place. Jason climbed atop a massive boulder to take in the view as breaks in the fog passed by.
Pinnacle Buttress soon came into view. This huge hanging block of rock serves as a playground for alpine rock climbers and ice climbers alike. I began to day dream of the possibilities. So much adventure, so little time. This is where the hike becomes challenging. The next few hundred vertical feet were rocky and exposed. We chugged up the headwall, sometimes on all fours, taking care not to lose our footing on the steep slabby rock we crossed closer to the top.
We exited the top of the ravine to find a rocky alien landscape. We could see the towers that reside on top of Mount Washington in the distance, but we still had a bit of a hike ahead of us. From this point on, the ascent was gradual by comparison, but the rocky terrain continued to slow the pace somewhat. As we approached the track for the Cog Railway, the trolley steamed up the mountain passed us, greeted by a friendly wave from the conductor. We crossed the tracks and made the final push to Washington’s summit.
As anticipated, we arrive to a heavily populated summit, it was a holiday weekend after all. We wait our turns to stand on the highest point in New Hampshire, then retire to the coffee shop, yes, this place has a coffee shop. I typically climb mountains to get away from modernization, but something about this place always impresses me. So much technology packed into keeping the top of this mountain running. During the summer, it caters to the droves of tourists arriving via foot, car, or cog. In the winter, it is a lonely place, home to a few scientists, and Marty the cat manning the observatory. Despite the touristy nature of this mountain, it is a sight to behold, and the hike along the way is pretty incredible, especially if you take the Huntington Ravine Trail.
If You Go
What: Huntington Ravine Trail
Where: Pinkham Notch Visitors Center – Park here for direct access to the trail.When: Unless you plan on doing one of the technical Ice routes in the ravine such as Pinnacle Gulley, It is best to do this hike in the warmer months on dry days to maximize safety.