Mount Washington! Tom had ridden the cog railroad as a young child to the top, had hiked to the top with Micah 25 years ago, and now wanted to drive the legendary auto road. Mt. Washington, and the road itself are truly historic. At 6288 ft. Mt. Washington is the tallest peak in the Northeast. Although there are much taller peaks in the world, Mt. Washington is renowned worldwide for it’s fierce weather, and the highest land wind speed ever documented of 231 mph!
It was first ascended in 1642, and fairly frequently in the 1800s. The first Summit House hotel was constructed in 1852, and a year later a carriage road (today’s auto road) was chartered and the Tip-Top House, which still stands today, was constructed. In 1861 the carriage road was completed and in 1869 the Cog Railway (the world’s first mountain-climbing train) began summer service. In 1870-71 the summit was occupied by a scientific team for the duration of the winter. The “firsts” and facts go on and on, and are wonderfully narrated by a CD that you are given when you purchase your pass to drive the 8-mile auto road to the top.
As we approached the toll booth there was a line of a dozen cars and motorcycles in front of us. From the get-go the road was very narrow, although there was not immediate cause for concern of the cliffs and the heights. The road wound through a Northern hardwood forest, and then into a spruce-fir forest and finally a balsam fir forest. At 4000 feet, the trees were twisted and stunted from the tension between the forest and the alpine zone. Above 4800 feet where there is mostly cold, snow, fog, rain, ice, rock and relentless wind, trees cannot survive, and there were hard rock boulders. And, this is when the road (with glimpses of the depths below) goes from intriguing to terrifying. With no trees to block the views, the narrow ribbon of road is all that cars have to cling to – and the uphill and downhill drivers have to share it!
At the top, once the heartbeats slowed down and Tom took his first breath, there was much to explore. Foremost, of course the view, and also the still-existing original structure the Tip Top House. There were lots of people mingling around; some had driven the road some had ridden the cog railroad, and some had hiked one of the various trails to the summit. There were plenty of opportunities for pictures.
The trip down was almost as nerve-wracking as the trip up, except for the knowledge that the view was getting easier to "view" minute by minute (It was very important for Tom to keep his eyes open at all times no matter how close to the edge the cliffside tires were forced to run.)
We didn’t get down from the mountain until 2:00 and had a late lunch at McDonalds...I just had to try their Lobster Roll. At the KOA we did some chores (beating the sand out of everything and working on the blog) by 7:00 we were still not hungry enough for dinner. It was a perfect opportunity to drive into town and indulge in an ice-cream-for-dinner splurge, and then back to the Silvermine for showers. I'll leave you with a picture of my McDonald's Lobster Roll . . . pretty darn good if you haven't had lobster for 48 hours!
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2016 23' Airstream, and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown