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Thread: First Ever Hike And Need Help

  1. #1
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    Default First Ever Hike And Need Help

    Hello all I am a newbie here and need your help. I have driven up Mount Washington a dozen times and I really want to get into hiking.The last time I went up was for the sunrise earlier this month and it was a dream come true for I have always wanted to go up in the dark. I am looking at hopefully hiking up MW. around late Sept.I have a few questions and I feel kinda stupid asking all these questions but any help would be appreciated. I mainly want to make sure I am prepared. I plan on doing more hikes if not this year definetly next year. any way here we go.
    1. what gear should I start buying for day trips?
    2. which trail would be a good one to start on @ MW.
    3. is there any pointers or reviews on products or on trails anybody can give me?
    I have been wanting to get into hiking for many years and have never been able to for reason or another but now the time has come and I am dying to get out there. I hope to someday start doing some over nite hikes.
    Thanks for any help anybody can give me. "Happy Hiking"

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    Chris,

    Welcome to the board. First off I would suggest starting your hiking with other peaks and working up to MW. It is not a great place to be if you find you have gone beyond your abilities at this time. Wherever you start hiking be willing to turn around if the situation calls for it. Be conservative.

    For summer daytime hiking the key things are a comfortable pack - good high top shoes with good traction and ankle support - a way of carrying water (like a camelpak).

    No matter what time of year you want to have layers of clothes. In the summer this would be a lightweight outer layer or shell for wind and rain protection - a layer for warmth in case you get caught with the temp going down like last weekend - and a light weight layer to get down to if it gets warm. Everyone will say that cotton is not a good thing to have at all. Lightweight is key.

    I prefer to hike in shorts. As you get into the fall you need a knit hat of some sort - gloves to match the expected temperatures. Even in the summer I have a knit hat and gloves in my pack when I am hiking on MW. Yu never know when you might need them.

    For a starter trail I like the Ammo on the western side. The elevation gain is not as great and it is not as steep as trails on the eastern side.

    In all cases be safe - have fun - and have a few plastic bags to put your trash to carry it out with you.
    Brad (a 6288 club member)
    http://bradstreet.zenfolio.com Personal Photo sales site
    http://public.fotki.com/bradbradstreet Personal photo web site
    http://public.fotki.com/MWO/saved/2012/ MWO image & video archive site 2006-2012

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    Thanks for your help and I will definetly take that under consideration..

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    Chris,

    Lots of people hike Mt. Washington, and everyone has to have a "first time" go at it.

    While you get prepared to tackle it and build up both your knowledge and back pack contents, pick up the AMC guidebook, a trail map with topographic legend, and do some day hikes in the Northern Presidentials that GRADUALLY take you higher and higher above treeline and let you see how fickle the weather can be. Having some familiarity with the trails and weather can be your best ally beside warm clothes.

    You don't have to make the summit of MW to have a great hiking experience, and your best GO at MW may depend on a little experience beforehand.

    Don't make the mistake of thinking there is always a "ride down"...either with MW Auto Road Summit Stage van, or the Cog Railway.

    On Saturday morning 8/18 around 10 AM , with winds gusting to 90+ miles per hour, temps in the low 30's F, visibility down to 25 FEET ( !!) , and mixed freezing precip flying sideways...... there was some serious discussion at the Auto Road whether to stop ALL service to/from the summit. Private cars had been stopped much earlier.

    By 11 AM the Cog Railway had dropped their summit trip and were only going to the Skyline trestle.

    BOTH the Cog and the Auto Road WILL suspend service to the summit when conditions imperil employees/clients. IF you are on your own 2 feet in transit above treeline when that happens, its your own 2 feet and preparedness that will get you down.

    Breeze

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    Default Welcome!

    Hi Chris! Welcome to the forum. You will not find a friendlier group of MW-lovers anywhere!

    Excuse my long-winded-ness. Nobody has ever called me “concise”. First, I concur with virtually everything that Brad said. Same with Breeze’s advice – except I’d push for Southern Presi’s versus Northern.

    Quote Originally Posted by CHRIS
    1. what gear should I start buying for day trips?
    If you aren’t sure that you’re going to enjoy hiking, you probably don’t want to spend hundreds to outfit yourself with the finest gear. On the other hand, if you have sub-standard gear, you’re guaranteed not to enjoy yourself. You’ve got to find some middle ground.

    As far as what you should be carrying, especially for a late Sept hike up MW, you’ll need to be prepared for all types of weather. If you don’t already have it, you should purchase the AMC White Mountain Guide. The entire “Introduction” will help you understand what you’re getting into, but specifically the sections entitled WHAT TO CARRY AND WEAR and WINTER ACTIVITIES.

    To echo Brad’s suggestion, be prepared with hat and gloves – they stay in our day packs all year. You also need to be prepared to spend the night out there. Sounds crazy, but when you’re rock-hopping above treeline, you realize how easy it would be to twist an ankle.

    Quote Originally Posted by CHRIS
    2. which trail would be a good one to start on @ MW.
    When you say that you’re “new to hiking” – I don’t have a good sense of just “how new”. If you’ve never hiked in NH before, you’re going to be somewhat surprised by how sore your knees will be after hiking on granite – especially the downhill. And the 8-9 miles to/from the summit will not feel like any other 8-9 miles you’ve ever walked in your life. I’m not being patronizing, I just know it took me a long time to work up to MW. Maybe I’m old.

    If you do decide to hike MW, I would suggest the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail to Crawford Path. It is definitely less stressful than Lion’s Head/Tuckerman’s Ravine (the only other way I’ve done it). Just don’t rely on Lakes of the Clouds Hut because it closes for the year on Sept 15.

    Personally, I would suggest starting with Mts Pierce or Eisenhower. These give you incredible views and will give you a chance to decide if you are enjoying yourself before you set out across miles of open rock. They are a bit shorter and don’t require so much above treeline, but still give incredible views of the Presidentials. In my opinion, BETTER views, because Mt Washington is part of the view instead of being under your feet.

    Quote Originally Posted by CHRIS
    3. is there any pointers or reviews on products or on trails anybody can give me?
    COTTON KILLS!! Sorry Brad, I had to say it!

    BACKPACKER magazine has a “gear guide” that they publish each year. They rate a lot of packs, hydration systems, boots, coats, etc. (www.backpacker.com)

    Another book to read to bring the reality of hiking on Mt Washington home… “Not Without Peril” by Nicholas Howe. It really makes you realize how your decision-making can be compromised by conditions/weather and how quickly any individual can get into trouble. Not trying to scare you, but a well-informed hiker is always better off!

    Hope this helps! As Brad would say, your homework is to post your pictures and a trip report when you get back!!

    Valerie

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim&Val
    Maybe I’m old.

    Valerie
    Baby, you are not old! Experienced? Maybe. Seasoned? Sure. But, I have seen you out there and you are not old. Give up the whinning and hit the trail again.
    Brad (a 6288 club member)
    http://bradstreet.zenfolio.com Personal Photo sales site
    http://public.fotki.com/bradbradstreet Personal photo web site
    http://public.fotki.com/MWO/saved/2012/ MWO image & video archive site 2006-2012

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    For a "get your feet wet" kind of a hike in the Whites I suggest the Lonesome Lake Trail which begins at the parking lot of Lafayette campground on the west side of Hwy 93 in Franconia Notch. Its a real nice hike up to a true wilderness lake with great views back toward Mt.Lafayette (weather permitting) and the Lonesome lake hut just up the hill from the lake is open year round (self-serve in the off season but a nice place to rest and relax. If I remember correctly I think it's 2.5 miles one way with a 1000' elevation gain. And, if it has been rainy before you go you may literally "get your feet wet"!

    Glad to have you aboard and look forward to hearing more in the future!
    Steve
    Is there really any BAD weather???

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    Thank you everybody for your recomendations. Thank you very much Valerie for your recomendations and I am envius after seeing your other post with all the hikes you and Tim have done. I am considering waiting to hike up MW. till next year and get in more hikes on other trails and work my way up to MW. as everybody recomends. I am going to p/up the books all of you recomended and read them all. I believe in being prepared.I believe in spending the extra money and buying the right gear the first time. I have wanted to get into hiking for a long time and just never had the time for one reason or another and health issues. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a little over a year ago and since I have been very health concious and have lost alot of weight which was one of the biggest reasons I never started hiking before.I have gone form 244 lbs to 195 lbs and I try to walk every day between 5-10 miles a nite (outside hate the treadmill) and excersise on the bowflex as much as I can. I am off all my medicenes and I feel I am ready to go. I have always loved the outdoors. I am glad I found this site and I have been trying to read as much as I can on here. Everybody seems so nice.Maybe someday I will finnally get out there and hopefully run into some of you. Someday I hope to move to N.H ever since I went there as a kid with my parents I absolutly feel in love with it. I currently live in Dartmouth Ma. I would sell my house here and move there tommorrow but my wife isn't ready to make the move yet. Sorry for blabing on but just getting excited.Thanks everybody
    Chris

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    Glad to have you part of the group and I look forward to conversing as well as reading your trip reports and viewing your pics.(If you don't already have a digital camera, get one. )
    Steve
    Is there really any BAD weather???

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    Quote Originally Posted by Breeze
    You don't have to make the summit of MW to have a great hiking experience
    I completely agree. One of my best days on Washington was during a recent solo ascent. I started at 6 am from Pinkham Notch and the weather was really foggy. As I got above timberline I started to realize that I would most likely not be able to make the summit because of the amazingly thick fog. At 8 am I was standing on top of Lion Head and my ascent was over. The fog was so thick I couldn't make out the carins. I decided to thow on a layer and just sit at Lion Head. I spent over an hour on top of Lion Head. There were no other people there. Just the fog, birds, wind and me. It was one of the best times I have ever had in the Whites.

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