View Full Version : Mid-July Mt. Washington hike and Lake of the Clouds overnight

07-05-2007, 02:21 PM
This didn't post the first time so I'll try again. Sorry if it is a re-post.

I'm new to the forum and have read through many of the other posts and responses and I would appreciate any advice you would be able to offer.

I will have 2 days in mid-July to hike up Mt. Washington. With good weather I am planning to hike up the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail and Crawford Path to the summit and then back down to Lake of the Clouds for an overnight stay (already have a reservation). The next day I will descend via the Ammonoosuc again or re-summit and down the Jewell.

If the summit is fogged in or cloud covered, I am planning to forego the Lake of the Clouds reservation and just do a roundtrip on the following day.

If the weather is bad both days then I am out of luck until later in the summer or next year when I can get away again (live in Ohio).

My question is, if I am staying at Lake of the Clouds and weather moves in overnight, how logical is a solo descent of the Ammonoosuc in bad weather with low visibility? Is there a better trail down? And, if the summit is fogged in or clouded over, like today, how much below Lake of the Clouds do you have to descend to get "beneath the weather".

Also, some additional background on me. I trail run or mountain bike or kayak at least 4 times per week with an occasional long distance day hike (5 mile +) thrown in. I was at the Mt. Washington Hotel at Bretton Woods early last (2006) spring for a conference. Late one morning I skipped out on the conference sessions and took off for the peak in fantastic weather. I hiked from the hotel to the Ammonoosuc Trailhead (I didn't have a car with me) and then about 3/4 of the way up the mountain. I turned back about a half mile above Gem Falls because I didn't have the proper gear to negotiate the increasingly thick ice. Looking back on what was in my daypack, I was very ill-prepared if something would have gone wrong. I don't intend to repeat that mistake.

Ever since then I have wanted to return and finish my hike and will try to do so in a couple weeks. Any additional advice is appreciated. I will definitely be packing raingear and warm clothing this time, including hat and gloves.

Thanks for your advice.

KD Talbot
07-05-2007, 09:31 PM
It sounds like you have a much better handle on your upcoming climb than a lot of people who inquire about climbing Mount Washington on this forum.

Descending the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail in low visibility should not present that much of a problem. There is not a better trail to descend from there. Just be careful at the brook crossings that you stay on the trail. Watch for the blazes.

I would not postpone my trip to the summit because of fog or clouds. The summit is in the fog 60% of the time. I have left the trailhead in dense fog and climbed up into a sunlit world above the clouds. Of course, this can work in reverse, too. But the trails you have chosen are easy to follow in all but the densest fog, just be careful at trail junctions that you stay on your planned path.

To get "Below the weather" may be an impossibility. All weather is different on any given day. On one day you may be able to get away from it, on another you won't.

If you have time, click around the different threads on this forum. There is a ton of useful information available and answers to many similar questions about hiking MW.

Good luck, and now that we know you're going, we expect a full trip report with pictures when you're done.


Bill O
07-05-2007, 09:33 PM
Aside from a hurricane or tropical rains there shouldn't much to stop you from going to Lakes of the Clouds. Afterall, you have a nice warm, dry bed waiting at the shelter. Your hike up the Ammo is mostly sheltered in the trees. That's worst case scenario too. Just because the summit is cloudy doesn't mean you should bail out on your stay at Lakes.

If everybody else did that Lakes would be empty 2 out of 3 nights. Same thing applies to your summit push. Some fog and wind at the summit doesn't mean the mountain is closed. You just have to judge the weather and decide for yourself. Chances are you can make it.

The entire trail system above treeline was designed for summer fog with large rock cairns spaced along the trail as markers. Major intersections have even larger cairns.

As for escape routes the Ammo is the best escape from Lakes. Within minutes you'll be out of the wind and below treeline. Any other route keeps you above treeline for much longer.

Edit: Yeah, what Kevin said. He tends to reply at the same time I'm replying.

KD Talbot
07-05-2007, 09:55 PM
Great minds think alike, Bill! Usually. Har har!


07-06-2007, 06:13 AM
Since you'll be at LOTC you might as well summit Mt. Monroe as well.

07-06-2007, 08:38 AM
Thanks for the advice. It is much appreciated.

I will definitely post a trip report and pics when I return at the end of July. After a brief stint in the Green and White Mountains (primarily so I can climb Mt. Washington), my wife and I are traveling to Cape Cod for a few days at the beach.

Can you guys recommend any good swimming holes in the area as well? I remember a fairly swift moving stream running near the Mt. Washington Hotel that looked like it might have a couple fun and safe swimming holes. It also looked like it would be fun to run in a creek boat at higher volumes.