Here I will share my travels throughout the majestic White Mountains of NH and also delve into some of the area's rich history and forgotten places. I do this in hopes of getting others excited about exploring these wonderful places.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mt. Monroe - 3/25/09 The Big Four Eight

The weather forecast for my days off this week was looking great, and it proved to be even better in reality. I set off around 9 AM for the Cog Railway base station - the winter trailhead for the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail - under warm, sunny conditions. I arrived, strapped on the pack, and set off on the trail. On the drive in the "Ammo" Ravine looks pretty steep and slightly daunting, but it was a really nice walk. The first mile or so is relatively easy going. Then you arrive at the Gem Pool, from then on the trail is quite steep. This where the vast majority of your elevation is gained. I took a short rest, strapped on my crampons, and was set out for the Lakes of the Clouds hut.

The Ammonoosuc Ravine

After climbing up through the woods, you slowly come out above treeline. The summit cone of Mt. Washington comes into view off to the Northeast and a broad view opens up behind you. The hut, closed in winter, comes into view ahead. The hut sits in a col between Mts. Washington and Monroe, beside two small alpine tarns (glacial ponds), with Washington being 1.4 miles away and Monroe being .3 miles out. This area is normally pounded by high winds nearly constantly, this being obvious by the roof-high snow drifts on the hut.

Snow-covered Lakes of the Clouds hut

The snow is rather compacted and incredibly icy, making crampons and ice axes required gear (as well as sunscreen, so I found out). Setting off for the summit of Mt. Monroe, I began the steep, icy climb upward. I also met a group of backcountry skiers, who jumped off the East side of Monroe and skied down into Oakes Gulf. It was pretty impressive, to say the least.

Summit cone of Mt. Monroe seen from the roof of the hut

The conditions up there where almost unheard of for these particular mountains. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the wind never picked up to more than a light breeze. The views seemed to never end. I could not have asked for a better day to finish my 4000 Footers, and while I felt accomplishment to have finished them, the prevailing emotion was that of excitement to get back out to these awe-inspiring places.

View Southwest from Monroe, Franconia Ridge are the white-capped mountains in the back

Lakes of the Clouds hut and Mt. Washington

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