View Full Version : new to hiking

01-14-2011, 12:28 AM
last summer some friends and i did some hiking for the first time. we conquered mt. hale, which was not fun and had i known there was NO view at the top would of never climbed it. i mean, the view is what it's all about, it's your reward at the end! we also did mt. willard which was a piece of cake and had a very nice view. i plan on doing more this summer and i am thinking of attempting mt. washington. so my question to you experts is what should i expect? what should i bring? and when is the best time to climb it? also, i am an avid photographer and would like to bring my "nice camera" with me to the top, however i don't want the extra weight on my back or it to get damaged should the weather change and it rains, so i'm wondering how others pack their cameras? any tips and info welcomed!

01-14-2011, 05:31 PM
Welcome to the forums! I have to agree, a rewarding view can definitely make or break a hike, but there is a lot to enjoy in the forest even on a view-less hike. Before doing Washington, you may want to attempt a similar, but less extreme hike such as the Franconia Ridge (this one has spectacular views, so if you get the right weather you'll definitely love it). The weather can be nasty on Mt. Washington any month of the year, so in some respects its a game of luck. You'll want to start early in the morning to allow the most daylight to complete your hike in - Mt. Washington is a full day hike, so make sure you're aware of this in advance. I don't have a "nice" camera, so I usually just keep it in its case inside my backpack...I used to carry it in my pocket during summer hikes, but after tripping and scraping its casing on Mt. Avalon I like to play it safe. I'm sure others on this forum will have a lot of information to offer as well, but if you know what to expect and you go prepared, you could end up having the greatest time of your life.

01-14-2011, 07:43 PM
Yes, welcome to the forum. The #1 issue to think about and plan for in climbing Mt Washington is the weather. Get to know what it is like and how things change well before your planned hike. Learn where to go to find good information about it. The MWO web site needs to be on that list.

The side of the mountain and the trails you elect to hike are important. On the western side you can see the weather changing and coming in at you. On the eastern side it can spring up on you and snow even though it is summer. You do not want to be above treeline when really bad weather hits. Have a Plan B trail or 2 for if you need to bail and get off the mountain, how would you do it from any point on your hike.

Conditioning is critical. Think about spending 4 - 5 hours of climbing irregular steps where some will even move on you. Most workouts do not prepare you for this. So, hiking shorter routes and working up to Mt Washington is a good plan.

There are good web pages here on the MWO site on what to bring. Always bring more than you could imagine ever needing - because you may need even that. I always hike in the summer with knit hat, gloves, scarf, wind breaker and the assumption the wind chill could get into the 30's and be wet. Be prepared to be able to stay dry.

For the camera keep it in the pack or in a holster to protect it. Have a plastic bag to cover it - but probably do not put the camera IN the bag as you could be causing problems. Trying to climb with a camera swinging around your neck is problematic. I do it and it never is good.

01-14-2011, 07:56 PM
Owen and Brad provided a lot of good information. There are lots of others here that can provide much more as well. If you're going to continue hiking in NH (which I'm sure you will - sounds like you're hooked) you should get a copy of the AMC White Mountain Guide - the hikers bible - and the maps that go with it. Since you're already looking at (and have done) 4000 footers you might also want a copy of 4000 Footers of the White Mountains. Good trail and conditions descriptions and a lot more about each mountain than the AMC guide.

I definitely agree with Owen on Franconia Ridge - it is my favorite place in the Whites - but it isn't to be underestimated. The weather can be just as bad there as on Mt Washington. On a good day it is spectacular as are so many of the mountains. Welcome to the forums. We look forward to hearing more about your hikes. Pictures and trip reports are always welcome!

01-15-2011, 12:31 PM
I gotta disagree that it is not "all about the view"..... it's more about the experiences along the way.

Maybe that stream crossing that you were initially not sure how to get over, but did manage to get over it without getting your boats wet.

Or, maybe that rock scramble that looked intimating but you got over no problem

Or, in winter maybe that steeper patch of ice/snow that looked impossible but you got over it

Just my 0.02$

BTW for carrying cameras: somewhere accessible otherwise you'll waste time getting it in/out

01-15-2011, 02:38 PM
I have a top load holster for my camera. When my new camera gear pack come in next week I will work to get the holster to attach easily. Then the camera will right there on my chest ready and available. At least that is the plan.

01-17-2011, 12:25 PM
You might want to consider the length and time of a hike up Washington. Although it is a great adventure, you might be surprised how much it can take out of you. I hiked several 4000 footers before doing Washington, and even did a 11 mile adventure the weekend prior on Eisenhower, Pierce, and part of the ridge heading to Monroe. However, I couldn't even muster up enough energy to finish a celebratory drink back at the campground after Washington. And we didn't have a summit view.

I suggest starting with something like Eisenhower (shorter, much less strenuos and less time consuming) which has great views on a good day. And if it's a bad day, the trip back to treeline is fairly short. Not that you couldn't do Washington, luck on with weather and conditions and time, and have a great experience, I just think it's generally underestimated by a LOT of people.

As for the camera, I too love to take along the big guns when I hike, but it's difficult to keep it within reach, and it takes time (and a lot of space!) to get it in and out of the pack, and believe me you'll want to use it a lot! I do still tend to bring it if I know there will be a spectacular view that I haven't already gotten, but I'll wrap it in a towel (which I can also use for other things if I have to) and I usually have a pack cover so that if it does rain, most things will stay dry. I got caught in a thunderstorm this summer, and rather than put my rain jacket on, since it was so hot, I wrapped my camera in the rain jacket inside my pack, but on the pack cover, and all was safe. Most trips I opt for a much smaller, compact, but still good quality camera that fits in the pocket of my hiking pants, with it's soft case. I can pull it out and snap a picture without missing a step sometimes.

Good luck with whatever you choose. My boyfriends first 4000 footer was Hale, and he was so disappointed by the view that he hasn't tagged along since : ( Try out a smaller one with a great view and you'll see there's lots out there!

01-19-2011, 02:20 PM
I as well always bring my nice camera with me on hikes. I don't like the thought of settling for a picture of a great view that isn't that great when I had a camera at home that could do it better. For me carrying the camera is pretty easy though as my hiking pack is actually a camera bag. It is a backpack that has the bottom for camera equipment and the top for other things. While I can't get the camera out with my pack on, it doesn't take much to set the pack down and undo one zipper. The only shots you would miss would probably be the ones of an animal you scare away, which you might not get even if you have a small camera in your pocket. Personally I also like having to set my pack down to take pictures since it gets the weight off my shoulders for short periods of time and it helps me pace myself on the trail. I don't always stop and rest enough once I get going and it makes the end of the climb harder. With having to take my camera out each time I want a picture, I take more small breaks and feel better at the summit.

01-20-2011, 08:19 AM
It seems that this has turned somewhat into a "hiking with a camera" thread so I'll throw in my $.02 on that. I've hiked with my "good camera" quite a bit but most of the time these days I leave it at home. Even when I do carry it I always have my "point and shoot" camera in a waist belt case. I probably take 3-4 times more pictures during a hike this way than if I had to deal with the big camera. It's just much more convenient and I'm not worrying about the other camera getting damaged. The quality of point and shoot cameras has gotten so good now that it's really not all that much of a compromise. I have used several of the Cannon Powershot A series (A540 and A590is) and now am using an SX-130 which is amazingly good for a small camera. To me what you carry depends on the intent of your picture taking. If you are out mostly to get stunning images to frame or sell then the "good camera" is undoubtedly the say to go. If you want to document your hike and still get some really good images to share the P&S route is probably fine. This is just my approach and opinion. Your mileage may vary...

01-20-2011, 01:00 PM
Like Mark, I also carry a point and shoot camera (Cannon SX-120) which works pretty well for the types of pictures I take. I like to take close-ups of flowers (great macro functionality), nice landscape shots and pictures of us hiking so that we can remember the day. I'm definitely in the market for a "good" camera at some point soon (probably used to start), but I'm not sure if I would drag it along on a WM hike or not. Like Mark said, it really matters what your intent is. If you're primary objective is to go out and shoot nature...you should probably be caring a "good" camera! But if you're trying to remember the great day you're having by snapping some cool photos...a point and shoot is the way to go in my opinion.

BTW - The one complaint I have with my SX-120 camera is exposure and a lot of times when the sky is blue, it comes out grayish/white if you have a darker landscape. Mark - have you run into this at all with the SX-130? If so, are there settings to remedy this that you have found?


01-20-2011, 10:08 PM
Karl - the best way I've found to avoid the washout on the sky is to focus on the sky itself or near the horizon and make sure the preview shows a good natural color for the sky. Hold the exposure lock, reframe and shoot. The foreground will often wind up too dark this way but it's generally easy to just boost the foreground lighting after the fact - can't really fix the overexposed sky.