Seek the Peak Weekend Report

27 Jul

Because training for and running a marathon with 2100′ of elevation gain wasn’t enough for the month of July:

4 People (in our little group – approximately 500 total hikers)

5.25 miles

4,505 feet of elevation gain

6 hours on one awesome Saturday spent with my mommy and two of my favorite friends as we challenged ourselves to climb to the top of Mt. Washington – Home of the World’s Worst Weather.

$30 – worth every penny to get back down the mountain on the scariest ride of my life (aka Mt. Washington Auto Road Hiker’s Shuttle)

Flatbread pizza, beer, and a wicked bitchin’ turkey dinner.

All of this was part of an event called Seek the Peak, a fundraiser for the non-profit Mt. Washington Observatory.  My mother and I decided to take part in this event back in March, and invited along anyone else who wanted to join us.  The only other two people brave enough to join us were my friends Jen and Paul.


The weekend began with a kick off party at the Mt. Washington Weather Observatory Center. The party included hors d’oeuvres and free beer (YES, FREE BEER! Tuckerman Brewing Co. Pale Ale – it was delicious).  There were representatives from the Appalachian Mountain Club  on hand to answer questions and offer trail and other hiking advice. Most importantly was registration though – it’s where we got the goody bags!

These goody bags were the end all, be all of goody bags.  SERIOUSLY. The bag itself is bitchin, big, two big pockets on both sides big enough to hold two water bottles each, a padded back, and super comfy and easy to carry:

But the contents of the bag REALLY made it: 
TONS of goodies!
  • Long sleeve Seek the Peak tee
  • EMS Merino Wool Hiking Socks (Loved them – comfy, didn’t budge, no blisters, and my feet didn’t get too hot or feel too sweaty ever)
  • Two small bottles of sunscreen
  • Two small bottles of insect repellent
  • A bandaid holder – with band aids (these last three items make me think this pack was designed specifically for me – especially the band aids!)
  • After bite wipes
  • Chapstick
  • A trail map
  • Clif Mojo Bars
  • Two packs of Jack Links Jerky (which is either really good or I was really hungry)
  • Halo S’Mores Bar (Anyone else ever had these? I thought it was okay, but not great)
  • A Subaru water pouchy thingy
  • Green Mountain Coffee
  • A bottle of Pomegranate Blue Honest Ade (OMG Delish – I will buy this stuff!)
I think that’s everything. SERIOUSLY. AWESOME.  I have never had a bag this great from any event. EVER.   
After we picked up our stuff and I had my two free beers (unfortunately there was a limit on the free beer – damn the man), mom and I cleaned ourselves up (it was even about 110 in the mountains on Friday) and headed to dinner, where we met up with Jen and Paul.
Dinner was at Horsefeathers Restaurant, located right smack dab in the center of North Conway. 
In keeping with the theme of the night, I ordered another beer.  This time a blackberry wheat – it was HUGE, light, crisp, and refreshing on that boiling hot summer night.
Mom had a Horsefeather’s Lemonade, which she loved.  I had to try it too, it was very good (I’m just more of a beer kinda gal)
Jen and Paul made it about halfway through dinner before realizing they hadn’t ordered anything other than water! They were tired and run down from a long drive, and still had a kinda long drive to their campground, so it was for the better anyway!
Pre-hike deliciousness consisted of:
A burrito the size of her head for Jen
Swordfish special for Mommy
Pad thai for me and Paul
After dinner we agreed to meet at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center at 6 a.m. to start our hike, and went our separate ways to get some sleep.

Our wonderful bed & breakfast hostess left some fruit and yogurt for me and mom, as well as showed us where everything was to make coffee.  We made some coffee, but passed on the yogurt since it wasn’t Chobani and we’re both yogurt snobs. On the way to the visitor center we spotted a Dunkin’ Donuts – iced coffee and carbs sounded like a great idea to both of us! (Well, I had iced coffee, mom had hot – I can’t drink hot coffee in the summer)
We finally made it to the visitor center and met up with Jen and Paul.  We got our stuff together (I decided on a last minute bag change into the wicked bitchin’ bag from above, rather than mine, which is more of a short hike kinda pack, not a trek up a mountain pack). 
I can’t remember if we had decided to take Boott Spur trail the night before, or if it was a spur of the moment (pun intended -hardy har har har I crack myself up) decision. (I’m literally laughing out loud at myself right now…). 
However it was decided – that’s what we did.  We broke from I’d say 95% of the other hikers at the start of Boott Spur.  For quite a while I thought we were the only hikers on that trail.  It got me to thinking – are we crazy? Are we in for something ridiculous? 
You could say that.
How about 1,339 feet of elevation gain in Mile 2. And 1,237 feet in Mile 3. And it took us roughly 4 hours to complete those three miles. 
Still smiling cuz it’s early in the hike…
Some call it rock scrambling, I call it boulder scaling
Rocks were … abundant.  Funny thing: When you don’t often show off your flexibility from massive amounts of yoga, then start scaling rocks, your mom says “Be careful, don’t get hurt.” She apparently doesn’t know how easy it is for me to throw my leg up on a rock and hurl myself up the rest of the way.  Well, I showed her.  And then I said, “Mom, I know what I am capable of.” In my best offended teenager style.  Sheesh, who goes hiking with their mom anyway? (Hehehehe just kidding MOMMY!!!!)
It wasn’t too long until we were in the Alpine Zone and above tree line (well, okay, it was a while – but it sure seems like the majority of this hike took place above tree line.
Not too long after we saw this sign, we were out of the trees, and Jen and Paul looked off into the distance as if to say “Damn that’s still so far” (direct quote from Jen when I posted this pic up on Facebook).
A beautiful view of Tuckerman’s Ravine
And they were right.  We were over 3 miles away, and it was a HARD 3 miles. Well, that’s a lie.  The whole thing wasn’t hard – the end of mile 3 and all of mile 4 were easy-ish.  We were still walking on/over rocks, but it was some downhill and otherwise mostly flat.
Among all of this rock scaling we found
Photo Courtesy of Shirtless Handlebar Mustache Man
And the path was nice for a little while
Oooh, a nice break
And the view was even nicer
But then it got ugly

And then it got uglier still
Someone to Paul (can’t remember who) “How’d you get up there?”, Paul “I went up…” 
And then we reached the summit…of Boott Spur
That peak in the distance where the towers look so tiny, yup that’s where we’re headed…
At this point we were getting pretty worn down so we decided to stop for a lunch break.  We sat, we ate, we chatted.  Paul tried to drug us gave us some electrolyte tablets. We also opted for a wardrobe change at this time – the wind was picking up and we knew it’d be cold at the top.  We found out later that from base to peak there are 4 climate zones on Mt. Washington. Then we headed back on our merry merry way.  
Soon enough we began our ascent up what I am now referring to as the worlds longest flight of stairs.  While headed up there we saw Lake of Clouds Hut
0.2 miles – piece of cake, right?
Do you have any idea how long 0.2 miles is when you’re climbing the worlds longest flight of stairs? Especially when the very end of it looks like this:
I lost the trail going up this, I couldn’t see the white paint on the rocks… I mean, is there really a trail here?
Lets just say it felt like an eternity…
But then, a miracle happened…
Cold and windy! BUT WE MADE IT!
Our awesome hiking group – happy we made it to the peak!
Oh yeah baby! The weather at the top? 50’s with 70+ mph winds.  Mom was the only brave one, as you can see, in shorts.  What’s funny is the tourists who take the train or drive to the top – never dressed properly LOL People watching at the top was more than amusing.
There’s more, but this is enough for one post…
To be continued…

3 Responses to “Seek the Peak Weekend Report”

  1. a7fdeb6e-b801-11e0-aa72-000bcdcb5194 July 27, 2011 at 3:38 am #

    This is great! BTW, hiking with your mommy is seventeen-year-old and I took the Boott Spur up together on Sunday, then Lion Head down. I put together a Facebook album for friends, but will probably send them here instead for the full description. Congratulations on making it up, and capturing it in pictures too!

  2. donnamacd July 27, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    Great post, Squeaks! That was a hike for the ages – and your write-up is super!

  3. p_salisbury July 28, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    Considering I was hiking with the rest of my group being in their 20s I think I kept up pretty well! And what's wrong with hiking with your mommy anyway!? 🙂

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