- September 12, 2018
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Important note about my frequent travels: these are my experiences and observations I share eagerly and enthusiastically. I receive no compensation in cash/kind/discounts, etc. of any kind from any business/locations I’ve visited. None of the businesses paid for my travel expenses or offered any free services.
The summer of hiking is almost coming to an end. My goal was to be able to hike Mount Washington in New Hampshire, White Mountain Region by the end. It’s not only a very challenging hike but the weather is also very unpredictable. Many people have died on the hike because weather changed suddenly and they weren’t prepared for it. On a clear day, you can see 5 States and Canada but bad weather is more common on Mt Washington.
Average temperature at the summit is 26°F and it can snow any time of the year. Average snowfall is around 21 feet annually. Hurricane force winds are recorded about 110 days a year. There’s an observatory on Mt Washington and in 1934, they recorded 231 miles per hour winds! I had no intentions of dying on Labor Day weekend so I was only going to hike Mt Washington if and only if the weather was sunny with no chance of rain.
We took an 11:30 am Amtrak train from NYC to White River Junction, VT Friday morning. From there we took a taxi to Lebanon Airport. It was a quick 10 mins ride and cost $10. We picked up a rental car from the airport and got dinner at Thai Orchid in Lebanon. Portions are huge and the food was good.
After dinner we started driving to Bretton Woods which is an hour and 40 mins away. By the time we got to the Airbnb it was almost 10 pm and we were tired (still recovering from Chile trip). We went to bed and decided it was best to rest before a challenging hike.
On Saturday we didn’t want to do anything too strenuous since we’ll be hiking Mt Washington on Sunday. We got lunch at 302 Grill food truck in Twin Mountain. The food was really good but it wasn’t exactly cheap. Entrees were around $12 each. After lunch, we drove East on 302 making stops along the way.
We stopped at a scenic view point across from Mount Washington Resort for beautiful views of Presidential Range and a massive, beautiful resort in the foreground. As of now, the weather did not look promising for the hike. The next stop we made was at North Conway scenic view and information center. There’s an outdoor deck with beautiful views. Downstairs is the information center and an exhibit about the region.
After a short 15 minutes break, we continued driving towards North Conway downtown. It was a very cute, happening downtown with lots of local artisanal shops. There was a fair going on. People were walking around and kids were having fun on the playground. We parked our car and walk around too.
There were a few food stalls that looked interesting. One of the stalls had intriguing flavored homemade jams and pickles. We tasted a few and surprisingly the pineapple habanero was really good. Another stall had locally made Maple syrup and Maple candy. There were a lot of stalls with handmade crafts, jeweler, kitchen accessories, and knickknacks.
We walked around downtown and saw an artisanal Olive oil and vinegar store. The entire store was full of different flavored Olive oils and vinegars. Again, some of the flavors were fascinating and delicious. They had an Alfoos mango white balsamic vinegar, honey ginger vinegar, and so much more. The staff mixed different Olive oils and vinegar to make salad dressings and marinades for us to taste. Everything they mixed was delicious.
We stopped by a few other such shops and did some shopping. After walking around for a few hours we drove towards Conway hoping it’ll be even better and bigger. To our surprise, most stores in Conway were out of business and very few people were walking around. It almost felt like North Conway was Eagleton and Conway was like Pawnee. (I’ve been watching re-runs of Parks and Rec.) We wanted to stop by a local farm to pick up snacks for the hike so we kept driving.
We saw a sign for Weston’s farm in Maine, not too far away. It was a very typical, small town shop with fresh, local, veggies, flowers, books, and souvenir. They also had a wide selection of artisanal mustard. We got a few healthy snacks. I love veggies from these small farm stores. They taste so fresh and are full of flavor. You don’t even need to add salt. Cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and carrots taste delicious without anything!
Sherman Farms was only half a mile away so we drove there next. We walked around and got some more snacks. They even had fresh milk but the glass bottles had a $5 deposit fee. You get the money back when you return the empty bottle. We didn’t try the milk. There’s a nice flower garden outside and suddenly we noticed there was llama! A llama! In New Hampshire! I guess they had it as a pet and also to get some llama fur?! We saw lots of llamas, alpacas, and guanacos in Chile but I certainly did not expect to see one in New Hampshire.
Are a few minutes of staring at the llama, we started to drive back towards our Airbnb. On our way back we saw a covered bridge gift shop in Bartlett, NH. It’s just off route 302. This store represents New England to me. It’s a covered bridge gift shop surrounded by a stream and green, lush Mountains. It’s ideal North East setting. And they had cute coffee mugs.
By the time we left the covered gift shop, it was time for dinner. We also wanted to sleep early since the hike tomorrow will be very challenging. We had dinner and a drink at the Mount Washington Resort. It wasn’t cheap and food was ok but it was the view we paid for.
The next morning, about half of Mount Washington was covered under clouds and weather forecast called for intermittent rain. As I mentioned earlier, I was only going to hike if the weather was perfect. I did not want to die (or even come close to death) this labor day weekend. So, instead we hiked Mount Pierce then traversed to Mount Eisenhower and hiked down. This was still going to be a long and challenging hike.
Mount Pierce is 4,312 feet tall and Mount Eisenhower is 4,760 feet tall so this will be anything but easy. The hike offers beautiful views and is part of the Presidential Range. We picked up breakfast from a gas station near Bretton Woods and it was way over priced. We parked the car at the Crawford Path parking area and started the hike around 9:45 am. In hind sight, that was a bit late. We should have started around 9 am.
Soon after the start of the hike there was a sign cautioning us about the storm damaged trail. We saw a few downed trees but the trail was clear. The Crawford connector path is 0.4 miles long after which there’s a footbridge that goes over Gibbs Brook. Cross the footbridge, go left, and in less than a quarter mile there is a sign for Gibbs Falls. You can either go down to the falls or continue on the trail.
We continued hiking along the Crawford Path for about 2.5 miles total, gaining in elevation. Along the hike there are lots of different, colorful mushrooms and berries. Parts of the hike felt like we were hiking through a Shakespearean forest. There are lots of people on the hike so if there’s an emergency, you’ll have help. After about a mile and half the Alpine zone starts. Until then, the trail is nicely shaded. The rest of the hike uphill is above the tree line so sunblock and a hat really helps.
Just before the peak there is a very nice view point on the left. It’s beautiful but it’s not the peak. After about 2.5 miles there is a Webster Cliff Trail split which is part of the Appalachian Trail. The trail is only 0.1 mile long and it’s the peak of Mount Pierce. From there we could see the peak of Mount Eisenhower and the building on top of Mount Washington. It’s a great spot for lunch. It’s less windy than Mount Eisenhower. More pictures of Mount Pierce.
Peak of Mount Eisenhower is about 1.7 miles from peak of Mount Pierce. But when you are on top of Mount Pierce, looking at Mount Eisenhower, it looks so much father than 1.7 miles. As we returned to Crawford path and started walking, Mount Eisenhower didn’t look so far. We came across a few guys who were hiking the Presidential Range starting with Mount Washington. They said the weather hiking up was “a total crap shoot” so I was very happy we didn’t do it.
After about 1.2 miles, Crawford path connects to Mount Eisenhower Loop. From the top of Mount Eisenhower the view is beautiful. But again, Mount Pierce looked so much farther away. It’s strange how your mind plays these tricks. Mount Washing peak looks even closer and the weather actually looked perfect. After another snack, we continued to hike down Mount Eisenhower Loop. Pictures of Mount Eisenhower.
The first half a mile or so going down was a bit tricky. It was more steep and rocky than I was expecting. It took me a lot longer than it should have. After about 0.4 miles, we took Edmands Path for almost 3 miles going down to Mount Clinton Road. About half a mile before the end of the hike, the trail is a little confusing to follow. There are some downed trees and the arrow pointing to the trail doesn’t even look like a trail.
There is a stream and the “bridge” to cross it looks abandoned and hasn’t been maintained. Turns out, that is the right path and after the bridge the trail continues on the right. Most of the hike, especially the hike down from Mount Eisenhower, is almost completely on granite. No matter how good your shoes are, you’ll eventually feel the granite under your feet with every step. The last mile of the hike was the hardest. Every step hurt but we made it to the parking lot on Mount Clinton Road.
That parking lot isn’t the same one where we parked the car and started the hike. The lot where we parked the car was about a quarter mile away. Luckily we had a friend who didn’t go hiking with us so he was able to meet us and drive us to our car. There are some people looking for a ride to their car so if you see someone, please help them out. The hike is long and strenuous. I was glad there was someone waiting for us to take us back to the car.
We hiked for about 9 hours. By the end, I was EXHAUSTED. I couldn’t wait to take a shower and just sit for the next 2 days straight. I was even more glad we didn’t do Mount Washington hike because that would have been 1.2 miles longer and 1,500 feet steeper. I really don’t think I would have survived that hike. The bad weather worked in our favor. I’m glad we hiked Mount Pierce and Mount Washington instead.
After the hike, we got some burgers to go and ate them at the Airbnb. Needless to say, we didn’t stay up too late that night and slept very well. The next morning we drove to Lebanon Airport to return our rental. Once we got to the airport, we looked for an Uber or Lyft but turns out there weren’t any available. Our train back to the city was in about 35 mins and there was no way we were gonna make it. I hadn’t taken the phone number of the taxi that dropped us to the airport a few days ago.
I googled a few taxi options but none were able to get us to the train station in half an hour. We drove the rental car to the train station instead. Luckily our friends who had driven from Jersey were close and they picked up the car from the train station and took it to the airport for us. If it weren’t for them we would have either missed our train or left the car at the train station which would have been very expensive. In the end everything worked out and it was a FANTASTIC weekend.