Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Climb Every Mountain

on September 23, 2010

Well not EVERY mountain. I enjoy hiking up mountains. Little mountains. Mountains that you can get to the peak of and be home in time for dinner. Maybe enjoy some nice vistas in between. The first mountain I hiked up happened to be the tallest peak in the North East; Mount Washington in New Hampshire. If I could recommend anything when it comes to hiking it would be to not start out with the highest peak in a geographic region. My second piece of advice is to not do it with a hangover.

I had decided to do the hike on a bit of a whim. A friend from work had gone to school in New Hampshire and was planning a trip back to visit and to climb Mt. Washington. I thought, New England is nice and it’d be pretty cool to climb Mt. Washington ( Then I could say I had climbed it), so I tagged along. In the weeks leading up to the trip I checked on the specifics of Mt. Washington. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid. The more I researched the more nervous I got. What was I getting myself in to? I expressed my fears to my friend who assured me it wasn’t that bad. He didn’t even train the first time he climbed it. I’d be fine.

The night before our hike we went out with some of his old friends from school. I may have had one or two cocktails too many. I really should have thought about the mountain waiting for me the next morning. I woke up the next day with a nice little hangover. My friend was unsympathetic. Hangover or no we came to New Hampshire to climb a mountain.

We set off at the bottom of the trail planning to hike up and down. The first few miles of the hike I felt miserable. My friend was pointing out the beautiful nature all around me. I mostly wanted to pick up a piece of that nature and hit him over the head with it. A few miles into the hike my hangover was finally gone. The bright side is I learned a new way to get rid of a hangover, just climb a mountain. The middle few miles of the hike I was doing fairly well keeping a good pace enjoying the nature around me. Then we neared the top of the tree line. On this hike I learned about terms such as “false peak.” Those are little humps in the mountain that make you think you’re at the top. You get to them and there’s another chunk of mountain rising above you and you want to cry. Mt. Washington has more than one. Toward the last third of the hike I was laboring (to put it mildly). My friend was not.

Along a hike such as this you tend to pass the same people over and over. There were two ladies in particular that became my cheer leaders. Saying things like “You can do it. Only another mile or so!” when I really just wanted to quit. The main reason I kept going was because of one thought, “The top is closer than the bottom. Get there and you can hitch a ride down and collapse at the bottom.”

The last 500 vertical feet of  Mt. Washington  is all medium to small boulders that I literally crawled over. Stopping every ten feet for a breather (Another thing I learned on this hike. I am very sensitive to the thinner oxygen at high altitudes). All the while I’m watching as my hiking buddy is going over the rocks like they’re stairs with his hand in his pockets. IN HIS POCKETS!! Yet again, I had the urge to hit him over the head with something.

I eventually reached the parking lot where my friend was waiting for me. “You’re not at the peak yet just up those stairs and up that little hill” I wanted to cry. I think I might have now that I think of it. I pushed myself to the top. It wasn’t pretty but I made it. I enjoyed the view for a couple seconds then searched for a bench where I could go pass out.

I was relieved to discover that Mt. Washington actually offers a “Hiker’s Taxi.” For a small fee a van will drive poor saps like me back to the bottom. I rode down with my friend more exhausted than I’d ever been before. My knees throbbing from the torture I’d just put them through. I thought about what I’d just achieved.  No matter how pathetic I was while doing it, I can say I hiked up Mount Washington.  Someday…I’m going to do it again.

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One response to “Climb Every Mountain

  1. Ron says:

    LOL! I recall that day very differently. And a little correction… it is more like the last 1500 feet is a rock-scramble. It is quite easy when you have to stop every 15 steps to wait for your friend. :p

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