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Published: August 11th 2013
View on the way up
Mt. Washington Auto Road
10 August, 2013
We were out before nine this morning, early for us, but we were eager to get to the Mt. Washington Auto Road. There were bicyclists everywhere as there were two separate bicycle races underway. We could see there were clouds at the top of the mountain, but that is the case 60% of the time. We opted to take the guided tour, one with a professional driver who knows the road and gives interesting bits of information on the way up and down. I knew Kerry would not want to drive this road, which is steep, narrow and winding. And the winds are ferocious.
We bought tickets and only had about a 10 minute wait before our guide, Erik, called us to load up. We ride in a van with a special transmission, but they call them stages because, historically, that was what was used to carry tourists up the mountain back in days of yore. There wasn’t much traffic going up, but that was because the road had not been open yet to private vehicles. They don’t allow private vehicles if the wind gusts are 70 mph or more. It was windy at the base,
Appalachian Trail marker
the trail cuts across the base of Mt. Washington
but the winds increased as we climbed, tossing tree limbs about, then later blowing grasses flat. About 2/3 of the way up we entered the clouds. It was like being in a thick fog, but we could see the mists blowing across the road, and we could feel the wind buffet the van. Nearly at the top we passed a woman running up the mountain, and we all shook our heads. At the top the fog was thick and the winds were amazingly strong. Kerry had to hold onto my arm to keep me from being blown over. It was pretty cold, too, with a wind chill of 24 degrees.
Inside the buildings at the summit we could watch the clouds blowing past and occasionally it would be clear, and we could see sunshine and views from the mountaintop. But then the clouds would come back. The highest winds of the morning were in the 85 mph range, but they were lessening some, and the clouds were thinning when time came to go back down the mountain.
On the way down we learned that the road had been opened for private vehicles, and passing them on that narrow
13% of road is unpaved
road was spooky. Did I mention that there are no guardrails? The expressions on the faces of the people driving up, as well as their passengers, were not “look, we’re having fun” faces. Anyway, we made it safely to the bottom, and Kerry didn’t even kiss the ground, although he was thinking about it.
New Hampshire is a beautiful state, and we enjoyed the drive west through the state to Vermont. We took the interstate south once we crossed into Vermont, and drove to Dummerston, VT, where my grandfather was born. We set up camp in a nice campground in Dummerston, then went looking for the town. We had a nice drive, but never found the town. We ended up going to Brattleboro, where we picked up a few groceries and mailed some cards. There is family history in this area for me, but I don’t know a soul here.
Pizza delivery tonight, Kerry has gone too long without his favorite food.
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