Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Adventure - Climbing Mount Washington

Photo by Jeanne Doyon

Hiking? Ha, not me. You may remember my previous climbing adventure on Roger’s Rock—and my vow NOT to do it again.
Photo by John Doyon
John and I got tickets on the old steam train and took the cog railway to the summit.

Photo by Jeanne Doyon
I can hear some of you muttering – there’s no way I would take that rickety piece of history up a mountain. I can respect that sentiment. But, the steam train doesn’t cause me to fear.
We packed warm clothes, planning for all kinds of weather. I packed my journal, pen, and planned to capture some beautiful views of the White Mountains with my camera. I was prepared for the day.
We left home at 4:30 in the morning. The three and a half hour drive to the Mt. Washington Cog Railway was well worth it. The sun rose with my expectations – seeing the summit and grand views without the grueling hike. J
As we approached the entrance of the rail yard, we saw plumes of smoke from the steam engine readying for the three mile ascent. With tickets in hand, we boarded. I was taking the round trip. John would catch a trail at the summit to hike the southern ridge.
With a few toots of the whistle the steam engine pushed the passenger car forward. We literally crawled up the rails at just 3 mph – a turtle could have beaten us. The sensation was reminiscent of the first climb of a roller coaster.
Photo by John Doyon
The mountains tilted as the ascent got steeper. The optical illusion was illustrated as we passed the ‘halfway house’. It looked like the house that Jack built – off kilter yet we were told it’s perfectly level.
Jacob's Ladder - Courtesy of Mount Washington Cog Railway

The steepest climb came at the point they call, Jacob’s ladder with over a 37% grade. As we climbed, the front of the train was fifteen feet higher than the rear—a very weird feeling.
The three man crew worked hard - it took a ton of coal to fuel the engine. We stopped part way at the water tower to take on water also to ensure we would be able to produce enough steam for the trip.
John and I, taken by a kind traveler

It took about an hour to reach the summit. The whistle blew and we were greeted with waves and shutter clicks – I felt like a celebrity. John headed out to start his hike. I had an hour to take advantage of the views from each side of the mountain. The sky was incredibly clear and I could see for miles.
Photo by Jeanne Doyon
The views coming down the mountain were much grander for me. I sat on the opposite side of the train. [Hint: For the best views sit on the left side as you face the mountain] The descent felt like what I remember as a kid, squeezing my bicycle brakes down a steep hill – brake, squeak, jam-jam-jam. It was a bit unnerving. Though the engine required steam for the trip up the mountain, it used air pressure along with the help of the brakeman for the 5 mph ride down.
The views were breathtaking—speaking forth the magnificence of God.
So, I can finally say I’ve been to the top of Mount Washington. No, I didn’t hike. Instead I experienced a piece of history and enjoyed the incredible mountaintop views without breaking a sweat.

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There’s no way I would take that rickety piece of history up a mountain. Click to Tweet

The sun rose with my expectations – seeing the summit and grand views. Click to Tweet

Resources that highlight both beauty and peril of the White Mountains:


  1. Glad you had a good time. I almost didn't recognize you with long hair!

  2. Pat Luffman RowlandJuly 23, 2014 at 7:17 AM

    Loved your adventure. Views were tremendous. I think I would like to do that trip, too, Jeanne.

  3. I decided to grow my hair for my son's wedding - though it was still short then by comparison to now. Still deciding if I will keep it long...
    Thanks for your comment. It is always fun to take a trip with my hubby.

  4. Pat, It is a low impact trip that everyone can enjoy. The steam train is a novelty for sure. And, the views on the trip were magnificent.
    Thanks for your visit to the Stream's Edge :)and taking the trip virtually with me.

  5. Beautiful view! I may have been holding my breath on that return trip, however! ~Rebecca

  6. Rebecca, it wasn't bad really. A bit more noisy that's all.

  7. Jeanne, What an adventure, not sure I would be brave enough, but your pictures are breath taking. You have turned into quite a photographer along with your other God given talents. Thank you for your descriptive story. Love Mom

  8. Thanks, Mom. It was an adventure for sure. The views were amazing. And, maybe I am getting braver in my old age...but I didn't feel apprehensive at all about taking the steam train up the mountain.

  9. Dear Jeanne,
    I love your long hair. The pictures are stupendous and I always look forward to them. What a gift you have. A treasured memory for sure!

  10. Thanks, Margie. I do love seeing beauty through the lens of my camera. Climbing Mount Washington would have been much harder on foot LOL

  11. This is something I'd love to do! I'm with you about being more nervous on the ride down. Hiking down sounds like fun - not sure I could handle the hike up. Thanks for all the beautiful photos.

  12. Cathy, my husband has hiked Mount Washington both ways (three times). It is about an eight hour day. I am not the rigorous hiker. I like the easier trails. So the Cog Railway was perfect for me :)
    Thanks for your comment


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