"Good things require hard work" - this is the mantra I repeated in my head as I struggled to peel my eyes open at 2:00 AM Tuesday morning.
My grogginess and a general feeling of "ugh" quickly dispersed as my vision adjusted and the starry New Hampshire night sky came into focus.
This trip came together as a spur of the moment idea. My friend Elisha had been bugging me to hike Mt. Washington with him. Our timing could not have been better with the mountain experiencing unusually warm weather for late September - so, we planned the trip.
Deciding to start hiking at 2:00 AM was a last second change. We had the idea of wanting to see sunrise from the summit, which meant hiking the four hours up in the dark.
The initial ascent up Jewell Trail was pleasant and straightforward. With temperatures in the mid 50's and no sun to beat down on us, we stayed cool and made good progress.
As we entered the alpine zone and climbed above treeline we got a view of Crawfords, NH to the West. Navigating got harder at this point as we no longer had a clear trail to follow. We relied on spotting the next cairn and scrambling toward it, then repeating the process again and again until the summit was in sight.
Thanks to Nathan for a lot of these pictures. It's great to have a second photographer along on a trip because it gives me a chance to actually be *in* some of the photos.
Drop him a line if you are looking for a videographer to cover an event.
We pushed hard and summited at 6:00 AM. This was perfect timing to watch first light and then the sun fill the Eastern sky.
The crew from the weather station climbed out of their fortified bunker akin to prairie dogs popping out of their holes. I think they were a bit surprised to see hikers on the summit so early. We chatted as they watched the morning colors from atop the station's instrument tower.
Once the sun had climbed above the horizon we relaxed and started to eat breakfast. I got a few bars of cell service and was able to call my wife and son [ Thanks honey for taking such great care of him while I'm out adventuring! ].
Another distinct benefit to summiting before sunrise is that you begin your descent around 7:00 AM. You get to do the easiest portion when it's hot out, and you finish the day much earlier.
In the White Mountains timing is everything. We enjoyed 50-60° F temps and sunny skies. 48 hours after we left the summit was swirling with 70 MPH winds and temps that felt as cold as 0° F. As I'm writing this post, 96 hours later, it is snowing on the summit.
Wondering what it's like right now? Check out the current summit conditions as you are reading this here.