Sought the Peak ... via Huntington Ravine
Below is an edited version of what I posted this morning on the forum that majority of my donations came from. Posting it again here to join in the after-hike fun!
For more pics and larger resolution.
I sought the peak, found it, and lived to tell the tale!
We arrived to the White Mountains early Thursday morning after leaving DC around 4pm Wednesday night. The drive up was almost entirely in rain, heavy at times. We got a small window of time where it let up just enough that we could set up camp. Luckily we brought enough tarps to cover out cooking/eating area of the site. When I checked the weather reports on Wednesday, the outlook didn't look good and we were dreading having to hike all day in the rain.
Friday morning, day broke to reveal blue skies, so we rushed to grab a bite to eat and head out to get a "warm-up" hike in. We wanted to start bagging the summits in the Presidential range and headed out for those trails. (More on that in another post).
For the big hike this year, my buddy Graham and I decided to really challenge ourselves an sought out the most challenging route on the mountain. Luckily Saturday brought just spectacular weather as the trail we wanted to take came with many warnings. "If it is raining, DO NOT TAKE THIS ROUTE! If a storm is expected at any time, DO NOT TAKE THIS ROUTE! If you are afraid of being close to high cliffs or drop-offs, DO NOT TAKE THIS ROUTE! And, if you are at all put off by the fact that you CAN NOT TURN BACK at many points on this trail, DO NOT TAKE THIS ROUTE!" ..... So, we took this route.
The hike starts at the Pinkham Notch AMC Center.
It starts out up the Tuckerman Ravine trail, past the waterfall and starts to ascend up the foothills of the mountain.
After a short stretch up the hill, Huntington Ravine Trailhead will split off to the right.
The first water crossing is the trickiest and we were told that it might be deep because of the week long rain they had. (You can see the trail just past the large rock in the center of the pic below.)
Having a good size day pack on, with my camera and GPS inside, I decided to get out of my boots and just wade through the ice cold water.
About an hour or so up the trail we finally get a break in the trees and get our first good view of Huntington Ravine. The ravine is most known for 'The Slabs" which are some sheer headwalls that you need to 'spiderman' up. You can just spot them in the center of the pic below.
The trail breaks off to the right and we start to head to climb further up the mountain.
There are a couple more water crossings along this trail, but none as tricky as the first.
Just before the breaking out of tree line, we spot a First Aid Cache tucked off the trail. Good to know where to get a band-aid in case I stub my toe!
As we get closer, we can start to see a few folks up on The Slabs.
Finally, we reach the Alpine Zone! Vegetation from here on up is very fragile. Most of it take years to grow just ankle high. The USFS really stresses staying on the trail and not trampling the greenery.
The Alpine zone in this ravine is also home to a large boulder garden. Lots of time climbing over, around and under large rocks.
Time for a break and our first chance to look back and enjoy how far we've come.
The moment of truth arrives as we get to the base of The Slabs. To get on the slabs you need to jump across the water flowing down from the nearby waterfall. We were told to make sure to make it all the way across since you land have to land on the slabs without getting your boots wet. Note the arrow on the rocks in the lower right indicating the direction of the trail.
I went up first and got a chance to snap this from a small spot halfway up.
The upper half of the slabs was a bit more tricky because of the rain runoff. You had no choice but to trek in the water, just make sure that you had very good hand holds.
Upper most section of Huntington Ravine provides some great rock climbing. By this time our arms and legs are starting to fatigue as we had to make our way through here thoughtfully.
Once at the top of the ravine we took a breather at the carin and looked back in amazement at what we just climbed.
One more mile up through the rock fields and over Ball Crag and we are finally at the top.
6,288 feet, the tallest point in all of New England!
The decent was quick down the Tuckermans Ravine trail, but we did stop to check out the remaining snow in the valley.
We didn't hang out long, since a hot Thanksgiving style turkey dinner was waiting for us at the bottom.
Once again, thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement! You folks are the best!
Summit Club Member
Seek the Peak 11
Seek the Peak 10: Lions Head/Tuckermans Ravine
Seek the Peak 09: Boot Spur (redux)
Seek the Peak 08: Huntington Ravine
Seek the Peak 07: Tuckermans Ravine/Lions Head
My 48: Washington (07/07, 07/08, 07/09, 09/09, 07/10), Lafayette (08/08, 08/09), Lincoln (08/08, 08/09), Pierce (07/10), Carrigain (09/10), Cannon (10/10), Jackson (11/10), Field (11/10), Tom (01/11)