Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine Trail

Tuckerman Ravine Trail, which starts behind the Visitor Center at Pinkham Notch, is probably the most popular way for hikers to ascend to the summit of Mt Washington.  From Pinkham Notch to Mt Washington summit is 4.2 miles.  That’s not very far, but in my limited experience, when it comes to mountain climbing, short is the same thing as steep.

Before you get to thinking we hiked up to Mt Washington today, let me just say, “WE DIDN’T”.  Although, it would have been a perfect day for it with big, blue skies and no afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast.  We only hiked as far as Hermit Lake, but I am ahead of myself here.

Crystal Cascade
We started the day by taking our friends to the trailhead for the next leg of their journey.  They looked like the zero day did them a lot of good and they appeared rested and ready to go.  We had lunch with them yesterday before we made the Wal-Mart run.  They had brought food for the next section, however, after hiking for a week in the Whites, they revised their schedule to include an extra 3 days.  The trip to Wal-Mart was to buy the food for those extra days.  That’s not an east task, especially when you have dietary concerns and normally dry your own food.  After much deliberation, they finally got together what they thought would sustain them from here to Andover.

We watched them head north then we headed south to Pinkham Notch.  The description of Tuckerman Ravine Trail didn’t sound too bad for the first couple of miles.  We pulled on our packs and headed uphill with the destination of Hermit Lake in mind.

Hermit Lake

The trail was definitely a climb (a 1000 feet per mile), but not so steep as to require the use of our hands.  The trail was rocky, but there were no large boulders requiring a body contortion to ascend.  We could actually just walk up the trail.

We sorta had in mind sitting by the lake for our lunch, but apparently many others had that idea in the past and now the area around the lake is closed for revegetation.  We were able to get close enough to see the lake.  We stopped by the shelters thinking that would be a quiet, secluded place for lunch, but all the picnic tables were in full sun.  Wanting to protect our tender and delicate skin from the destructive rays of the sun, we decided to have our lunch on the porch of the caretaker’s cabin.

Caretaker's Cabin

Hermit Lake, where the Caretaker’s Cabin is located, is in the lower floor of the ravine.  The trail continues up the headwall very steeply before turning right and heading over to Mt Washington.  We had great views of Tuckerman Ravine, Lion’s Head, and the Hanging Cliffs of Boott Spur, but Mt Washington was hidden behind Lion’s Head, just out of view.

There were many, many folks on the trail today.  We got a fairly early start and hike pretty slowly, so almost everyone going to Mt Washington today probably passed us.  On our way down, we saw several helicopters in the air.  Once back at the Visitor Center, we asked if there had been an accident.  There had--a hiker had slipped off the trail and fell 115 feet.

One of five shelters at Hermit Lake
The trail description indicates that the headwall is very steep and narrow requiring attention.  Over the years, apparently several have slipped off, usually in bad weather conditions.  Today was so beautiful with no slippery rocks from rain and no low visibility from fog.  We’ve wondered if it was one of the many folks who passed us on their way up.  So tragic.

That’s all I have for today.

No comments:

Post a Comment