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My biggest hiking challenge, Mount Washington

Write by Jonathan Lessard

2020-09-03

Did you ever challenge yourself to do something you thought you could never do?

For me, it was Mount Washington, I was hiking seriously for maybe a year when my best friend told me that we should hike Mount Washington, the highest mountain. I started to realize back then that if I want to train and get in shape, I needed a challenge so, that was it.

Before the Mountain

I was lucky enough to work near a small mountain—Mount Brome in Bromont. So, two or three times a week, I hiked it after work. Going to the top when you are in shape is maybe a 30 minutes hike. But I thought it was enough back then to train for The big Mountain. I did not realize how wrong I was.

The beginning.

It was the second attempt for my friend and me. The first time was in the snow in October and we were not ready for that challenge. This time we thought it would be different, two innocent young adults up for the challenge of Mount Washington in hot august.

Seriously, some of the things we did, I do not suggest them. Be ready, prepare yourself cause this mountain is dangerous. People die every year attempting this one. Back to the story

So, two innocent young adults ready to hike the most prominent mountain on the eastern side of the country. I remember being in the parking; it was more than 30 degrees (Celsius), I was wearing shorts and a dry fit t-shirt. I took a look at the raincoat and the warm cloth I had, my backpack already full of food and water because of my fear of missing food back then.  I decide not to take the raincoat and warm cloth, now I know that It was a mistake.

The hike

When you start to hike mount Washington, the beginning is smooth. You even have a small waterfall to look for on the way. The hike stays soft until hermit lake (3,9km). We chose to take the lion head trail, Hiking to the lion head is much more challenging than the first part, But we did it, old, not in shape, I was dying a little bit inside, but you know a man’s pride, I wouldn’t be the one to give up there.

Usually, we waited for the dinner at the summit, but I couldn’t continue with the energy I had, so we took a food break at the lion head, and some photos because you have a beautiful view. I remember seeing some clouds coming at the top of the mountain. And I told myself: man, we will be walking in the cloud! When you never did it, it is pretty awesome!

You must know that mount Washington is known to have a pretty unstable climate. Us two boys in short pants and t-shirt were going in the clouds, and the temperature started dropping pretty fast. The only time I checked the weather, it was 12 Celsius. I don’t remember if the most challenging part of the climb was all the rock going to the top, or the cold temperature

The summit

I thought that the last part of the hike would have a more technical part but, going by the lion head is more about hiking on the rock until the summit. We finally made it there. I was exhausted, cold and wet. What was my best achievement so far felt like desperation.

You need to do this hike one time in your life but, the summit is touristic. You can go there by car, and you even have a line up to take a picture at the summit sign. I was exhausted and needed to wait after those outside tourists with sandals in their feet. Again, not my best moment. At least I got a picture of the two of us thanks to those tourists.

The descent

We refilled our water, took some food in the cafeteria and we were playing with the idea of taking the train to go back. Bad weather was forecasted, it was cold outside, but again, our pride took hold on us, oh sweet rock, we are back. Maybe 45 minutes after we start going down, heavy rain started pouring on us.

Remember, it’s probably 12 degrees outside, we are exhausted, and back then, I was not too fond of the rain. It was pouring, we tried to go faster even if it was on slippery rock with thunder to be heard in the air. And seriously, future advice, stones transmit electricity, don’t be on a rocky mountain top during a thunderstorm. We ran as much as we could to take shelter of the trees, at least, we were lucky, we made it to the tree, and maybe 30 minutes after, the rain stopped. It was just a short thunderstorm.

Even if this last part is more straightforward, I remember my friend telling me: we will soon be at the bridge, But the bridge never seemed to arrive. The storm had taken the last of our motivation. I remember that we took a picture of us at the end, and I don’t remember a time I was this exhaust. When we finally made it to the hotel room hours later, I took a hot shower and jumped into bed, ready to sleep forever.

Last word

Mount Washington was one of my best hikes, and I think that all eastern American hikers should attempt once in their life. Be sure to be ready, a lot of the things we did weren’t the smartest things to do. Bring a spare cloth, survival gear and be sure to be prepared not only with your equipment but also physically. The next day I couldn’t even walk. My knees could not hold me. It took my body two days to recover from this.

Today I look at all of this with a smile. Although it was my most challenging moment in life, it is one of my proudest. Back then, I was afraid of everything, but now I realize that I can take on any challenge. No matter how challenging this hike was, no matter how exhausted I was, I had fun, and I made it. And that is true for all of you, just put your mind to it, and I know you can achieve anything. Always remember to be safe and have fun!

 

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