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Mount Washington. February 9, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
Tags: , , , ,

I spent this past weekend in New Hampshire, ostensibly to enjoy the Mount Washington Valley Ice Festival, but truth be told, I’m not much of a climber these days.

I mean, I still dabble in it, but not much I’m going to do will compare with the stuff I did in my younger days.  Time hasn’t ravaged me as it might have, but neither has its effect been inconsequential; my shoulders are shot, my right ankle is a mess and my waist is no longer 26″.

But perhaps the most telling sign of my aging is what I appreciate about climbing.  I love the movement, and have all but given up roped climbing, preferring instead to climb easy terrain smoothly and steadily, unencumbered  by the technicalities of rope work and building anchors; I love the views, preferring to climb somewhere beautiful rather than somewhere famously difficult.

And I’m not into risk for glory’s sake.  The weekend sported two nights of slide shows and videos of Famous Climbers doing the nearly-impossible in the most unforgiving of styles, treading the razor’s edge between Cover Shot Immortality and  a page three obituary.  It left me more sad than excited, more moved to introspection than motivated to raise the bar on my own accomplishments.

And it left me thankful that I have another avenue of expression besides creating dicey new routes, which I’ve had the privilege of doing in Days Past.  I have my camera, and a few people who seem to enjoy looking at my photographs, giving me the perfect excuse to blow off the climbing and just cruise around taking pictures.  🙂

I’m also blessed with the company of my friend Lizz, my housemate and another climber/photographer of similar vintage, who has no problem letting go of the Glory Days in favor of a day behind the lens.

So Saturday was spent driving and hiking and snapping photos of Beautiful New Hampshire, not the coastal version with the lighthouses, but the higher and drier White Mountains.  We got up before sunrise to catch that event below the flanks of Mt. Chocorua, and though the skies were unspectacular and it was an easy ten below, we did manage to snap one or two off.

Mt. Chocorua at sunrise:

…followed by a hasty retreat to the heat of our vehicles and a yummy breakfast back in town.  We wavered about where to go next, then settled on a trip up Crawford Notch to the higher climes of Fabyan Station and Bretton Woods and views of Mount Washington.

We got up there mid-morning, and despite the increase in altitude the hours had worked their magic and the temperature was much more manageable.  I got this shot of Mount Washington from the south going up Crawford Notch:

…and this one from farther west, up by Bretton Woods:

Mount Washington is on the right, with Mount Adams (my personal favorite) on the left.  I was jazzed about the lenticular clouds forming over both peaks and being driven off eastward by the winds at higher altitudes, as lenticulars are wont to do.  Also in that last photo is the Mount Washington Hotel, a gorgeous place to drop a few pence and the place where the Bretton Woods Accords came to be in 1945, establishing both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.  I have mixed feelings about both, but the Hotel is historic and beautiful and available, albeit at a price.

Mt. Washington’s summit was in and out of the clouds, with its buildings and structures coated in wind-driven rime ice:

…courtesy of Gizmo, by the way.  This piece of terrain embodies both Heaven and Hell, depending on conditions, and I have to say I’ve been there to experience both.

Now, neither Lizz nor I are Born Lookers, and roadside vistas don’t really satiate us.  So we headed back to the Mount Clinton road, found the Crawford Path trailhead, and ‘shoed up for the hike up toward the Mizpah Springs hut.  It was by now mid-day, but we determined that we’d go as far as time allowed.

The hike was steep, the snow was deep and the whole situation was magical:

Given our time constraints we didn’t quite make it up to treeline, but rather caught gimpses of the northern horizon through the trees:

It was a day well spent, even if the photos were less than spectacular.

On Sunday we hit the cliffs for a bit of climbing; film at eleven.  😉


1. clairz - February 9, 2011

Oh, thank you for this lovely illustrated adventure in my dear old New Hampshire. That first photo makes me remember the cold; I loved the lenticulars, and the snowshoeing photos remind me of a children’s picture book where the world is so large and we are so small.

2. littlebangtheory - February 9, 2011

clairz, it felt exactly like that – like being mice in Jan Brett’s Mitten!

3. Pagan Sphinx - February 9, 2011

I’m catching up on your posts! I like “the whites” but only in the summer. Do you know if that cool nude swimming spot is still there? Not that you could have confirmed it on this visit but thought you might know.

The photos are spectacular! What are you talking about??? I like the Nantucket ones too.

Always nice to see what you’ve been up to and how you’ve depicted it.

Stay warm,

4. littlebangtheory - February 10, 2011

Gina, I’m not sure which “nude swimming spot” you’re referring to… all of the “spots” are still there, and while I’m sure that a little hiking will afford plenty of privacy, I’m really appalled at the amount of development I saw on this last trip – once wild ridge-tops are now enchained with third homes for the privileged. And you know how I feel about that – between the entitlement and the subjugation of Nature for personal gratification, I find it both heart-breaking and reprehensible.

But that’s out of my control, and I’m trying to keep my eye on what’s left of Nature, and there’s a lot of that left up there at this point in time.

And thanks for appreciating my images – I’m trying to be fussy about what I post, but sometimes I have less to work with than I’d like…

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