Bonding on Mt. Washington
Whether inspired by WordWhiz's upcoming trip to New Hampshire or Complimenting Commenter's compliment on my last travel blog, I felt I should tie up a loose end there.
Wanting to climb Mt. Washington to show I wasn't over the hill at 50, I took my two boys and my nephew Bill to the White Mountains two years ago. I thought it would be a good father-son-nephew bonding experience for all.
We hiked up the Tuckerman Ravine trail which attracts dedicated uphill hikers of all ages, shapes and sizes. You need to be in good physical condition, but no technical climbing experience is required. You don't need ropes, spikes or crampons.
It was a vertical climb of close to 5,000 feet, the equivalent of walking upwards of nearly a mile. We scrambled hand over hand on all fours in some spots, and hopped rock to rock in other spots. Four hours after we started, we summited.
Then my nephew and my younger son Scott balked at going down. They'd had enough. There was a highway to the top. Could they hitchhike down? No, verboten. Could they take the cog rail train? No. It ended up on the opposite side of the mountain from our parked car. What about the Mt. Washington Stagecoach? I'd heard stories that they would shuttle exhausted climbers back down, but I couldn't get any detailed information.
While Scott and Bill grumbled, Greg, my older boy, decided he wasn't waiting and started down on his own. Some time later, the other two relented and the rest of us began the trek downward. Only 50 feet down, my leg began cramping. I had to stop. But the boys weren't waiting and continued down. So much for father-son-nephew bonding.
I limped back up the hill, made some inquiries, and found that the Mt. Washington Stagecoach indeed does offer a one-way van ride down. It cost me full round-trip fare but I was more than willing to pay the price. As we rolled downward, a fellow climber, guilty that he too was unable to descend, felt better about his decision to ride when he saw dark clouds now skirting the summit.
"It's looking pretty bad up there," he said. Mount Washington is notorious for sudden, violent storms that mark it as one of the most dangerous places in the continental U.S. I didn't tell my fellow passenger that my two sons and their young cousin were left to their fates up there by this here dad. This van ride was turning out to be a very expensive guilt trip for me.
After being dropped off at our parking lot, I ascended the trail a short distance to a waterfall to wait. Before too long, Greg bounded around the corner. Remember, he was not aware that I had taken the hiker's shuttle. He saw me and stopped in his tracks. His jaw dropped a foot. He wasn't sure whether he was seeing a ghost,or superman. I explained that I didn't find a shortcut, but the hiker's shuttle.
Eventually, Scott and Bill arrived also. The weather had held out for them. Seeing me walk, Bill noted peevishly, "Your leg healed pretty quick, eh Dave." Well, maybe. But my pride was forever wounded.