Follow your dreams and don’t ever look back.
Ten years ago during August 2000, after the conclusion of my last two undergraduate classes and prior to beginning my first full time job, I decided to take up hiking. Inspired by reading Waterfalls of the White Mountains by Bolnick, I began planning various Waterfall hikes. I bought an AMC White Mountain Guide. And for my first peak bagging experience, I targeted none other than New England’s highest peak, Mount Washington. Why start small, right?
This ill fated first attempt at hiking involved limping up the summit cone via the Tuckerman Ravine Trail due to a sore and fatigued leg muscle. Despite a severe blow to my ego, at the summit I opted to take a stage coach down the Auto Road to avoid further injuring my leg. My first hiking experience ended in failure. But it was the first step down a road leading to many adventures.
Since that first hiking experience, I have always held a grudge against Mount Washington. While I have hiked and skied the Rock Pile frequently during the past ten years, I have never summited and returned to the base using my own leg power. Skiing off the summit has been an elusive goal since I first started earning turns in 2005. Ten years after my first major hiking experience and five years after beginning to earn turns, I have finally skied off the summit of Big George.
Opening weekend for the Mount Washington Auto Road is a special weekend when the East Snowfields are in play. After my first experience on the East Snowfields two years ago, I vowed to never miss an opportunity to ski the East Snowfields slacker style when the Auto Road opens.
Kingsley and I hooked up for a long planned trip to Mount Washington to lap the East Snowfields on Memorial Day Weekend. Sunday offered the best conditions with the added perk of being a TimeForTuckerman.com gathering date. I brought a cooler full of adult beverages and grilling meat though the gathering was already well stocked with both. Not many things better than lunch time burgers near the summit of New England’s highest peak on a blue bird day following four laps of the East Snowfields.
During the seven mile drive from Route 16 to the East Snowfields, Kingsley and I listened to a sensationally dramatic CD detailing the history of the Auto Road. We quickly geared up and headed over to the Snowfields where we met Austin just finishing up a climb back to the top. After some quick introductions and pleasantries, we got down to business carving huge turns down stellar baked untracked corn snow. The first run would be the best and it was very enjoyable. The snow on the snowfields was quickly cut up by over one hundred fellow slackers. The traffic combined with the high temperatures and baking snow made for mashed potato sloppy corn by the third run.
Kingsley and I ventured further afield to the southern end of the East Snowfields which offered less hammered snow and occasional untracked patches. We enjoyed turns in a barely covered rock garden before climbing back up to the gathering and grilling some meat. After beer and burgers, we took two more runs for a total of six laps and called it a day. Another sensational blue bird day on Mount Washington which marks the beginning of the end for the season.
After many weeks of anxious anticipation, the Mount Washington Auto Road finally opened to the summit this weekend to the delight of many a New England Skier. With exception of Left Gully and Airplane, the East Snowfield currently has the longest continuous vertical drop in New England for skiing. This bright, sunny, and hazy afternoon brought well over a hundred people to the East Snowfields to partake in a final farewell to winter in New England.
Plans to carpool up the auto road were scrapped yesterday due to logistical issues. Since my Saturn does not have low gear, it would not be allowed on the Auto Road. Believing that the Auto Road folks would not look kindly on my sticking a thumb out near the gate, I opted for a one way ticket setting me back $26 big ones. Plans were to either Hitch a ride or hike back down. Fortunately, I was offered a ride by a kind person which saved me the hike down. Since I paid for the lift, I am unsure if this afternoon qualifies for my “One Run for the Price of None Tour.” Doesn’t much matter about the payment as all the turns had to be earned regardless.
Crowds were already filling up the Snowfields upon my arrival at approximately 9:30 A.M. It did not take me long to realize that I had over packed, but without a car to base operations from and a potential hike down, I took no chances on over packing gear. I booted up practically laughing with glee; this looked like it would be damn fun.