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Thread: Hiker's shuttle

  1. #1
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    Default Hiker's shuttle

    Has anyone here ever used the hiker's shuttle to and from Washington's summit?

    Alex and I are hiking up to Lakes of the Clouds in a few days, then visiting the peaks of Washington and Monroe before hiking back down.

    My husband and Sage are planning on taking the hiker's shuttle up Washington, hiking down to Lakes to stay with us there, then the next day taking the shuttle back down from Washington.

    I've called the Auto Road's number, and the woman who answered said it's not a problem getting the shuttle in either direction (first one up leaves for the summit at 9am from the Railway parking lot).

    However, this website says one should NOT count on being able to use the shuttle at all.

    Does anyone here have first-hand knowledge? I guess my husband could always take the Cog up/down, though we REALLY don't want to give the Cog any money. And our own car won't make the trip (Honda Civic, no 1st gear).

    Thanks for any insight,
    Trish

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    Its not a "hiker's" shuttle. Its a tourist van that usually has free space for hikers. They won't commit to it being available because if the road is closed the shuttle does not run. You need to use your best judgment on that.

    All I know is that I would not want to hike all the way to the summit depending on a ride down.
    Bill
    Next up: Vermont City Marathon: May, 2011
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    OK here goes.....

    There IS a hiker shuttle. It is just like the guided tour vans. The hiker shuttle operates out of the Summit Stage building, the one with the chains over the roof. It operates as the road operates, which is always Weather Permitting. Ice, snow, high winds, and some other nasty weather circumstances can close the road to all traffic. Some Special Events do impact the operation of Guided Tours and Hiker Shuttle, too, so check to be sure nothing is scheduled in advance.

    Upbound One Way trips are booked at the Auto Road Base at the Stage Office. Once the staff and van(s) arrive at the summit, the Hiker shuttle runs on demand from the top, taking folks down to Pinkham, the AR base, and on request to the Great Gulf Trialhead . On the return UP to the summit, they will stop at he AR base for other upbound folks. Reservations aren't accepted, as there is not truly a "schedule". There is a fee for the service, it is not "free".

    The disclaimer made by the Auto road IS valid. For Sure. The LAST THING anyone wants is to have folks stranded on the summit, unprepared. That is the botom line, so you have to make your best judgment call and go from there, knowing there are no guarantees.

    Breeze
    Last edited by Breeze; 08-25-2008 at 08:18 AM. Reason: Fee for Service.

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    Thanks, guys. What Breeze says more or less confirms what the lady on the phone said.

    For clarification, my husband and Sage are not hiking to the top from the valley. They'll be coming from Lakes after spending the night with Alex and myself.

    When they return to the summit, Alex and I will accompany them. I will make sure they have a ride down -- via shuttle or Cog -- before Alex and I leave for our descent. If for some reason they can't get a ride, we will all hike down together. My husband is capable of carrying Sage, and I would carry most of the gear. We have ample proper clothes, etc. for all of us, for two emergency nights out. We almost always carry this much on every hike.

    We do not underestimate this mountain, I didn't want to give anyone the wrong impression. It would just be optimal for them to get a ride down if possible, hence my questions. We'll have the cash to pay whatever fee is charged. If it ain't possible, we'll hike down together.

    I appreciate the information, Breeze and Bill O. Thanks, it helps us plan everything out and prepare for the "what-ifs" that much better.

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    Default Trish your plan is perfect

    First let me say that yes in bad weather the auto road will close and those looking for a ride at the top have a problem. My family and I have been on this mountain many times and my wife and kids have used the shuttle service MANY times and never had a problem. It takes very bad weather to close down the auto road. To me if the road does close that means the weather is extremely bad and really should you be out there hiking if that is the case?? Your plan sounds great. Lakes is a great family hut and you and your family will have a great time. The shuttle at the top will bring you down (if road is open) but you just might have to wait a bit. As Breeze says it does not really run on a schedule. The vans coming up do run more on a schedule.
    Hey if worse comes to worse and weather turns bad it gives you a great excuse for an extra night. Enjoy!!!

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    Thanks, Rex. We look forward to this!

    I spoke again with someone from the Auto Road. He gave very clear instructions on how to get the shuttle, where to park, our chances of dh and dd2 getting a ride down, etc. We feel pretty good about our plans. Though of course, we'll pack all the extra stuff just in case.

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    Trish, on MOST days, what you are thinking about would not be a problem. I think you probably talked to Steve today. Steve has a whole lotta years experience on MW both Auto Road and Bretton Woods Ski Area, he is a straight shooter.

    Let me try to use a situation from todayfor some further "insight".

    About 4:30 this afternoon a car arrived at the Toll House with a Father and Daughter, daughter age 12. The two of them had a reservation at Lakes of the Clouds for tonight, and they started out from PNVC before 8 AM to hike via Tucks.

    They made it up to the top of the headwall and could not make headway into the NW wind at 40 mph, AND, coupled with the heavy cloud layer blowing sideways, couldn't see the trail. They turned around and came back down to their car ( good decision).

    Dad decided then to drive to the summit and try hiking DOWN to Lakes because the wind would be at their backs. He knew it was posible to leave a car at the summit overnight.

    He let me know exactly what he was planning and asked me for my advice.

    By the time he came to the Toll House, summit temp had dropped to 42 F and the winds were 47 gusting to 56 mph, changed for the worse since his earlier foray above the headwall. There is a 30 minute ride to the summit ( he would arrive at 5 pm) and then need to tackle the hike down to Lakes. Cars leaving the summit must leave no later than 6:45 pm at this time of year to avoid the gate being locked, so he had some issues to think about.....

    Leave the summit at 5 PM in bad and worsening weather with a 12 year old for Lakes...

    Find out part way down that it wasn't going to be doable

    HAVE to beat feet back UP to the summit under a time deadline in worsening weather/bad visibility to drive down safely...

    Risk being 'stuck' with no viable options.

    Perhaps having to forfeit the reservation at Lakes.

    Before he paid me the Auto Road Toll, I told him that the overnight summit forecast had the words "snow" and " 30 degrees", and IF that did come to pass, might make their climb back to the summit ( and their car) in the morning a potentially "interesting" complication for the footing, not to mention perhaps delaying the opening of the Road itself tomorrow morning.

    He made his judgment call to go ahead with his plan. I feel as though I gave him every bit of information I could give him to clarify his situation. I gave him the scoop as I saw it and he took on the risk management.

    Your thoughts?

    Breeze

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    Quote Originally Posted by Breeze View Post

    ...

    Before he paid me the Auto Road Toll, I told him that the overnight summit forecast had the words "snow" and " 30 degrees", and IF that did come to pass, might make their climb back to the summit ( and their car) in the morning a potentially "interesting" complication for the footing, not to mention perhaps delaying the opening of the Road itself tomorrow morning.

    He made his judgment call to go ahead with his plan. I feel as though I gave him every bit of information I could give him to clarify his situation. I gave him the scoop as I saw it and he took on the risk management.

    Your thoughts?

    Breeze
    This sounds like one with potential for ending up in a future accident report in Appalachia Journal... This just can't possibly be the right kind of risk management when it involves the safety of a child and the risk of bad weather on Mt Washington. There is just too much precedence of disasters coming from this kind of situation. Hopefully things work out OK in this case. Sounds like you gave him all the right information and advice.
    Mark

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    Thanks Mark. Some of us are caught between a rock and a hard place trying to keep others safe.

    Breeze

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    Breeze,

    Thank you for your post. I appreciate your story regarding today. I also appreciate the difficult position you must be put in, all too often. I hope the father and daughter are OK.

    I would question trying to go up in the afternoon. If that had been us, I would have forgone the Lakes Reservation.

    On the day we go, we are all going to the summit as soon as possible. More specifically, Alex and I will be dropped off at daybreak to begin going up Ammonoosuc. From the trailguide, I gather we should be mainly in the trees/scrub until coming up right into the hut.

    My husband and Sage will take the first shuttle of the day from Pinkham Notch, hopefully getting to the summit by 10am or so. They will have from then until the rest of the day to make it down to Lakes. Forecast so far is for sunny skies. Let's hope it stays that way. If it doesn't, we will rethink our plans.

    For wind and chilly temps, husband has "Everest suit" and Sage has full winter gear. My husband is also a climber and can put a harness on himself and Sage and rope themselves together (don't want Sage to blow off the mountain!). If it's too windy, they won't attempt to come down. Our only issue right now is how to communicate. I'm not yet sure how he can tell me that they can't make it down to Lakes of the Clouds from the summit, as I know cell phones won't work. We have to talk more about that, so I don't stay up all night worrying if he and Sage don't show up.

    As for the next day -- we will all be together, and can make summit decisions together. We plan to ascend as soon as we wake up.

    So my long answer is that I would have said "oh well" to the reservation if I had been the father in your story, and gone back home. However, I hope to avoid that scenario altogether by leaving in the morning and taking a relatively sheltered path that leads right to a hut, while my hsuband and other daughter are driven up. So to me, the only real worry is waiting for my husband and Sage to hike down...and I am hoping they will have the entire day and good weather in which to do it. We will have the forecast and summit conditions in our heads before we leave the house for this trip.

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