Presidential Range in New Hampshire
By: Ed Breneiser, WA3WSJ
WA3WSJ and Daughter Cynthia
on Summit of Mt. Washington 6,288 feet
Hello and welcome to my New Hampshire AT Trip Report. About a year ago
I thought it would be neat to hike the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
After some thought, I started planning the hike. The first thing would
be to get someone to hike with me. No problem, Aron, N1ODL, saw a
few of my e-mails on the EPA QRP AT Reflector and said he would hike with
me. I called the Appalachian Mountain Club, AMC, in March of 2000 and made
reservations for July 16th to July 19th. One weekend while my daughter
was home she heard me planning the trip and said that she would hike with
me. This surprised me, but I said ok! I next proceeded to buy
airline tickets from Philadelphia, PA to Manchester, NH. I called
US Air and was told the price for a Monday departure and a Friday return
was over $700 for one ticket! The representative then told me that if I
stayed over a Saturday night the price would be $287! I bought two tickets
and looked for a place to spend the weekend.
After searching the internet, I found a nice looking place called the Red
Jacket Lodge. The price for a room was $189 a night, but I figured we would
spend two nights in luxury before returning home. This proved to be a wise
decision after the hike. I now had to buy some hiking gear.
I already owned two backpacks, but I needed another water container for
Cyn. I bought her the same Platypus water pack that I use on the trail.
I always use a wooden hiking stick, but I wasn't sure it would fly so I
called the airlines about it. I was told that the hiking stick would have
to be checked luggage. I then bought a set of telescoping hiking
poles for $89.00. The hiking poles are made by Leki in Czech Republic
and worked fantastic. Cyn would use one and I would use the other
pole. These poles worked out great on the trip. Small to pack, but
nice to hike with on the trail. I also taped both sticks together
and taped them to a trail sign to raise my dipole antenna. No trees
above tree line to raise your antenna and my telescoping fishing rod is
to long to fly.
Cyn now needed a good pair of hiking
boots. I picked up a good pair of hiking boots for her from Bass
Pro Shops and I had a good pair of boots. I also purchased two emergency
blankets, trail map and a loud whistle. Cyn now bought some clothing
items that weren't cotton and we were looking good for gear.
I started taking an inventory of qrp gear for the
trip. Let's see an Elecraft K1 QRP Rig, WA3WSJ AT Dipole, coax, G4ZPY Mini
Paddles, 7AH battery, power cord, headphones, solar panel, logbook and
pen. I was looking good for radio gear. One important point
of interest must be mentioned now. The boots we purchased were of good
quality and waterproof. This later proved to be very helpful as it
rained on us the first day of the hike. We hiked through water that
was almost a foot deep at some spots on the trail, but our feet were dry.
Other hikers at the first hut had wet feet! We are now ready for
the trip. One small snag, Aron had e-mailed me that he broke his
ankle. He would not be hiking with us!
It's Monday, July 16th and we're
up and ready to leave the home by 6:30am. We arrive at the Philadelphia
Airport about 8:30am and wait for the plane. 10:15am and we're in
the air towards Manchester, NH. By mid afternoon we are at Pinkham
Lodge, NH. The drive from Manchester took about three hours.
We check-in, look around and then get ready for dinner. The huts
serve a nice breakfast and dinner, but no lunch. Dinner always starts
at 6pm and breakfast at 7am, but you have to quickly look for a seat because
it's usually crowded in the hut. Monday evening we were served a
Polish meal because some of the hut crew members were from Poland.
After the nice meal, we looked at a huge 3-D model of the Whites and checked
our hiking route. Pinkham Notch Hut is the crown jewel of the
huts. We were in bed by 9:30pm and I was in dreamland by 9:31pm!
Tuesday morning we're up about
6am and in line for breakfast by 6:45am. Pinkham is crowded, but
the place is very nice. Cyn and myself eat a nice breakfast of eggs,
various breakfast meats, various juices, toast and if you want cereal.
After breakfast we're back to our room packed and over to the shuttle pick-up
point by 8:30am. Before we depart on the shuttle we weight our packs
on a fish type scale. Cyn's pack weights 28lbs and my pack weights
in at 45lbs. I would feel this weight later summiting Mt. Franklin!
The shuttle picks us up at 9am
and we're finally off on our adventure. As we drive over to Crawford
Notch, we see three moose! Boy, they are a whole lot bigger than I thought
they would be in my mind. We arrive at Crawford Notch Hostel about
10:30am and look around for a while. One last look at the trail map,
we're at 2000 feet, and some last adjustments of our packs and we're hiking!
The weather looks threatening, but the sun is in and out so we don't break
out the rain gear.
About a half mile into the hike
it starts to drizzle, but we keep on hiking up the Crawford Trail. Well,
the drizzle turns into a down pour so we put on our rain gear. For the
next 2.5 hours we hike in the pouring rain up the mountain. Cyn is
very glad to see Mizpah Hut as the trail is very slippery and everything
is wet, but our feet are dry. Mizaph Hut is a very nice hut and the
hut crew are very nice to us. We find our bunks, change and get
ready for dinner. Just before dinner the sun makes its appearance
so most hikers hang their wet clothing on nearby rocks etc. I find
a rather large rock, I not a small guy, and take a nap at 3300 feet.
Cyn reads a book she brought along for the hike. Dinner is again
great and afterwards we we check our route for the hike on Wednesday
up to Lakes of the Clouds Hut at 5500 feet. By 8:45pm we are in bed
and sleeping by about 9pm. This hiking makes you tried!
Wednesday morning brings sunshine
to the hut. We eat a great breakfast and pack for our departure.
9am and we are out the door hiking up to the summit of Mt. Pierce.
We make the summit by 10am and are rewarded with just breath taking
beauty! A short look on the summit and then on to Mt. Eisenhower.
As we approach Mt. Eisenhower, we both decide to take the trail around
the mountain. The summit looks like it is a long and steep trail
up to the summit. As it turns out, the side trail is overgrown and
very narrow at spots. This side trail was not fun to hike, but we move
on to the next mountain. We see Mt. Franklin in the clouds and there
is no side trail around this one. We meet the clouds near the summit,
but the clouds soon disappear as quickly as they had descended upon
us. Hiking the summit of Mt. Franklin took a bunch of energy out
of me, but Cyn seems ok. I guess my 45 lb pack is catching up with
me or maybe old age!
We stop on the summit of Mt. Franklin
for a few minutes to rest and then push on toward Mt. Monroe which is close
to the hut. As we approach Mt. Monroe,
both Cyn and myself say, " no way." Mt. Monroe has a very steep ascent
to the summit and we are tried and looking for the Lakes of the Clouds
Hut. We decide to hike around the mountain. This decision turns out
to be a good one. The side trail around Mt. Monroe is beautiful and
smooth with just gorgeous scenery. As we hike around Mt. Monroe,
Cyn says to me, "I hope they have something good to eat tonight."
This struck me as very funny and I can't stop laughing for about five minutes.
Here we are on top of the east coast with breath taking scenery all around
us and she's thinking about eating! After the hike around the mountain,
we start on a slight downward trail and see the hut. We have been
hiking for five hours and the sight of the Lakes of the Clouds Hut looks
really great! We are tired, dirty and hungry. The weather is
great and we can see " the big one" looming over us. Lakes is at
5500 feet, but Mt. Washington looks like a cathedral at 6,288 feet.
We check in at the hut and find some bunks. The next thing is to eat.
I unpack lunch for us and you can buy soup for lunch at every hut.
We eat lunch, rest and get ready for dinner. Dinner as usual is great
and we prepare for a good night's sleep.
The next morning Cyn is up early
and I ask her why? She always sleeps late, but not today. Cyn says,
"it was to cold to sleep." The temperature at 5500 feet dipped down to
about 39 degrees last night and even with two wool blankets on Cyn was
cold. I on the other hand slept like a baby. We eat breakfast
and are out the door by 9am. The weather is great, but the hike up to Mt.
Washington looks rocky and steep. As we start the ascent, we pass
by a couple of shallow lakes that I would call ponds. The trail isn't
as steep as I thought, but we're just starting the ascent. After
about forty minutes we're half way up the mountain - not bad. I turn around
and tell Cyn to take a look. We are at about 5900 feet and can see
for miles and miles. The hut looks so small and we can see the entire
ridge we had hiked for the past three days - what a view! After a
short rest, we continue the ascent up the mountain.
One hour and twenty since we started
the ascent we have summited Mt. Washington. The weather is nice,
but a little chilly compared to the temperature at Lakes. We are
lucky, the weather is just great and the views are wonderful! The
Cog Railway train is in service and the auto road is open to drive to the
summit. Cyn is surprised by all the people up here. She looks
at me and says, " yeah, but we hiked up here." After checking out
the shops etc., we decide to head back down the mountain. About
half way down the mountain Cyn has to relieve herself. What do you
do at 5800 feet on the side of Mt. Washington? I tell her to go behind
a cairn and I will stand with my back to her in front. She does her
duty and off we go - what else are you going to do! We're back down
at Lakes about 1:30pm and I decide to get on the air. Cyn likes to
read her book and finds a nice rock to sun herself on and read.
I look for a spot to put up my
dipole antenna, but no trees in sight over five feet. I decide to
tape two hiking poles together and tape them to a trail sign. After
about a half hour of calling CQ with no takers, a four station finally
gives me a call. I work him and try again. After about ten
minutes, I hear a familiar call. It's Ken N2CQ from NJ! I work
him, but he is weak 449. After that exchange, N2CQ calls me again,
but this time he's 559 into NH. He says that I'm weak, put readable.
That was about it for QSOs from the Lakes Hut. Two QSOs with Ken
and one other one. I had to take the antenna down and get ready for
dinner. The hike on Friday would be a long one so I knew that I would
not operate from the huts again this year. Still, I did make
three contacts from the AT in NH.
Thursday night Cyn puts on a long
pair of pants; two pair of socks; a tee shirt; regular shirt; and a fleece
jacket. She also asks me for my wool pullover cap. After all
this, she asks me to get another wool blanket for her. She now has all
that clothing on plus three wool blankets over her to sleep! Friday morning
comes and she tells me that she had a good night's sleep. I'm surprised
that she could breath with all that weight on her!
I knew the hike back to Pinkham Notch will be long
and down hill so we leave Lakes about 9am for the trip back to the rental
The first leg back is to hike over
to the crest of Tuckerman's Ravine. The first mile is all uphill,
but not to steep. After we crest the major hill out of Lakes, we
can see numerous trails intersecting on the ridge. Each trail is
marked by a string of cairns that goes as far as the eye can see.
This is a neat sight and the first time we have ever seen such a thing.
Over the top of the ridge we go and towards Tuckerman's. The weather
is again nice and the scenery is again just gorgeous. You can't imagine
just how beautiful the scenery is up there. The pictures in this
article don't do justice to want it feels like having all that beauty in
front of you! After a couple of pictures, on we hike to Tuckerman's.
As we approach the rim of Tuckerman's
Ravine, we think we made a mistake taking this route. It's a very
steep descent until it bottoms out. It turned out that it never bottomed
out all the way back to Pinkham Notch!
The first three hours of the descent is slow, steep
and hard, but beautiful at the same time. The trail down the ravine
is steep, narrow, wet and rocky, but we see beautiful waterfalls,
nice flowers and gorgeous views. At the bottom of the steep part,
we stop for lunch and rest. After a half hour or so we're off for
From the bottom of the ravine to
Pinkham the trail is downhill, rocky, and has little in the way of scenery.
For the next two and a half hours the hike is tough on the knees.
We are tired and the legs are weak from the downhill hike. With about
a mile left to go in the hike, Cyn hurts her left knee. I offer to
take her pack, but she says let's just finish this hike. We hike
slow, but steady for another hour until we reach Pinkham Lodge. Total time
to hike back to Pinkham is 5.5 hours of downhill hiking! I now know that
I like uphill hiking much better than downhill. By the time we reach
the car, the sun is very bright and the temperature is around 90 degrees.
The daytime temperature on the mountain was around 65 degrees!
Still, we finished the hike and had a new and wonderful father/daughter
After a brief rest at Pinkham,
we head out for Maine. I want to make a qso from the AT in Maine because
I probably won't get the chance again soon. After an hour drive I spot
the AT sign and pull into a parking lot. I'm set up after fifteen minutes
and on the air. After my second cq, W2JE comes back to me.
I make the qso from the AT, pack up and start the drive back to NH.
We're now looking to drive out
of the White Mountains to a small town called North Conway. We have
reservations at the Red Jacket Lodge for some R&R! After about
a hour and twenty minute drive we're in North Conway. The lodge has
indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a large hot tube-haaaaa! Well,
Cyn and myself spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning at the lodge and
then drove back to the Manchester Airport. It was a trip we well
both not soon forget. I'd like to figure out how much each qso cost
me, but I don't dare!