Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mt. Washington, Mt. Monroe, and Boott Spur - 10/9/11

This hike has found its way to the top of the list of my favorite solo hikes. The weather was perfect for our Moosilauke hike on Saturday, and Sunday would be no different. There were several things that made this hike a great one. The only major downside was the crowds. One of the few goals with this hike was to try a different trail up Mt. Washington. I also wanted to get a feel of the trail and surrounding area without snow on it, as the Tuckerman Ravine to Lion Head Trail is the normal route taken during the winter. To make it even better, I planned a loop to bag Mt. Monroe and Boott Spur before descending via Boott Spur Trail.

After a solid hike yesterday, I didn't get up as early as I would have liked to, but I made it to Pinkham Notch and began my hike up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail at 9:50am. There were groups of people everywhere along the lower section making their way up, but just as I would be on the highway, I was in the passing lane moving on up. Once I passed the bridge and the waterfalls, I continued ascending. There was a little break in the crowds, and I began to see commanding views of the rock piles above me, which was beautiful.
View from Tuckerman Ravine Trail
I quickly made it to the junction with the Lion Head Trail, which I took. I did not notice the winter route before Raymond Path, as I would have taken it if I saw it (and if it was not marked as closed). I didn't expect it to be marked, but either way I got the feel of the main Lion Head Trail. The trail was pretty steep and rocky, but not too difficult.
Lion Head Trail
I reached tree line and the views of Tuckerman Ravine were exceptional. I was blown away at how dramatic the landscape is. Still flying up the trail, I passed several groups and continued to just below Lion Head where I stopped for a quick moment and took in the views deep into the ravine. As the views got better, I was more excited to keep on going. I made the climb over Lion's Head which was fun. After Lion's Head, the trail's footing is pretty tricky, and the boulders are quite large. I pushed on and made it to the end of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail at the summit parking lot.
Near Lion Head, overlooking Tuckerman Ravine
I reached the summit in about 2 hours and 15 minutes. I'm not sure what made me so determined to make it that quickly, but it was awesome. This was my 4th time hiking to the summit of Mt. Washington, and in the 3rd different month.
Me on top of New England
I went downstairs to the hiker's room to put on my pant legs and have my sandwich to avoid the packed madhouse upstairs. The wind outside was about 50 mph, and the 15 minute high wind gust was 60 mph. I remember seeing many people leaning into the wind and I was blown off my stride as I made my way into the building. There was no record breaking temperature on Sunday, as it was 1 degree shy of it at 53 degrees. After about 10-15 minutes I headed outside to take in some more of the views. I think one of my favorite vantage points is looking over the southern Presidentials. After a few minutes of that, I was off down the Crawford Path towards Lake of the Clouds.
Southern Presidentials seen from Crawford Path near summit
I didn't stop once during this section (pictured above), navigating the trail with fancy footwork, and arriving at the shore of the lake in 25 minutes. This was a blast! Now, I was about to summit Monroe for the 2nd time. This is where my one year quest for the 48 ended in August. I'm really happy with my choice to end on Monroe, because I love the view of Monroe from Washington, and I also like the views from Monroe of both Washington and the southern Presidentials.

When I got to the summit, there was a guy sitting on the true summit having a seance of some sort, ignoring the several other hikers who would maybe like to touch the summit. Finally, after over 5 minutes, he moved, and a nice couple, who was on a 5-year plan to complete the summits, was able to get an awesome picture of me almost literally blowing off the summit.
Holding strong on Mt. Monroe
I scooted back down the Monroe Loop Trail and back over the side of the hut, which was closed for the season. Here, I took a 10 minute refuge from the wind to indulge in some water and to switch to my base layer shirt and t-shirt, which would be more comfortable, as I anticipated the winds to be less significant the rest of the way, and they were.

Going back up Crawford Path alongside Lake of the Clouds, I came to the Camel Trail junction. This would be another new trail for me, and I am soooo glad that I chose this route, because I was by myself for the entire traverse across the .7 miles of trail between that junction and Davis path. As I neared the middle of this section, I felt like I was the only one on the mountain which was an accepted change on the day. It was here where I realized how awesome this hike was. I was on the southern slopes of Mt. Washington without another hiker in sight, looking off towards Boott Spur, and occasionally looking back at Monroe. The Camel Trail was pretty straightforward with a few sections where rock hopping skills will help you over some large boulders that make up the trail. I took the opportunity to stop behind a wind breaking rock for another break for trail snacks, water and great views.
Approaching Davis Path on the Camel Trail
I took the Davis Path towards Boott Spur, which was basically flat and easy. I came to the Boott Spur Trail junction and then made my way up towards Boott Spur at 5492' which was the main goal for my hike, checking it off my Trailwrights 72 list. The views remained impressive, and here I took a few moments to savor the views, because how often am I going to hike to Boott Spur?
Enjoying the endless view from Boott Spur
I wasn't sure I was ready to descend, but I did, and the views of Pinkham Notch, the Wildcat Range, and beyond remained priceless. I took several photos on the way down. Above tree line, I will say the Boott Spur was a tricky descent, but once below tree line, the footing was much better enabling me to keep a moderate pace. I was extremely happy that I chose this way down because I only passed a few people beyond Boott Spur.
Descending via Boott Spur Trail
Having hiked on Saturday, I think my legs were warmed up and ready to go for this hike, because I was feeling great the entire time, including on the descent. I made it back to Pinkham Notch in 6 hours and 18 minutes to end a hike I now call one of my favorite solo hikes. I had completed a Trailwright peak, 2 more 48x12 grid peaks, experienced new trails, and added to my overall experience on New England's tallest mountain.

Hike Stats:
Trails: Tuckerman Ravine Trail, Lion Head Trail, Tuckerman Ravine Trail, Crawfrod Path, Monroe Loop, Camel Trail, Davis Path, Boott Spur Trail
Distance: 10.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 5,050 ft
Book Time: 6hrs 18min

To view the full album, view or click on the slide show below.


  1. Great Trip Report and I know exactly what you mean about the 'ownership' feeling along the Camel Hump Trail. My brother and I did this (minus Lion Head left for another day) loop in September.
    Belated Congrats on your 48! Scott

  2. Hi Scott, Thank you very much! I checked out your pictures from the hike, you have some great shots of the ravines.