If you’ve caught on by now, Price and I do a surprise date for each other every month. It was Price’s turn for June so he teased and tormented me with little clues about what he had planned. When he said I would need a heavy coat I started to have my suspicious about what we would be doing. I started to think it would involve the mountains, and possibly even Mt. Washington but didn’t want to guess in 1) sounding really foolish and 2) getting it correct and ruining the surprise. So I waited and waited until that weekend when he revealed that we were in fact going to Mt. Washington, highest mountain in New England at 6,288 ft. But this would be no orginary trip as we would be driving up through the night and getting there for one of the few times a year the auto-road opens up super duper early for sunrise. You read that correctly… sunrise.
So on Saturday, June 23rd we went to bed at 9pm and got up at midnight to get ready to start the drive up to Mt. Washington for the 4.56 sunrise. We were pulling out of our drive way at 12.28am, and after a quick stop at Sonic for a midnight snack (I am addicted to the limeades) we were on our way! We took turns driving up through the White Mountains while the other on the look out for moose (their eyes aren’t reflective like deer so they are much harder to spot). After a wrong turn and going the wrong way for a bit we did make our way, thanks so some friendly gas station attendants, to Mt. Washington Auto Road!
4.43am- entering the auto road
The types of vegetation changed as we made our way up. We also started to get more enveloped in the clouds.
5.09am- we stopped at this point because it was a clear area from cars. The eastern pull off areas were packed with people so we decided to just keep going up as we passed. This area was so scary at first as it was completely enveloped in clouds and so windy but waiting 30 seconds changed it all. It cleared up and we could see the clouds coming up the western side of the mountain and rushing up along the face and breaking right in front of us.
5.24am- We made it to the top! These stairs take you from the parking area up to the buildings summit. Man these steps were wet and it was so windy… I was holding on tight!! I really have no idea how the men built the road 150 years ago or even the new buildings on the top. The weather is super crazy up there! There is a building that is actually chained down to the ground! Did you know that the world’s fastest surface wind was recorded here at 1:21 pm on April 12, 1934? 231 mph!!!
Frank did it!!! Price is such an excellent driver so we had no problem taking our time to carefully get Frank up the auto road. (It was not actually this bright- it’s just the actions I used – it was cold and grey but still so fantastic to experience the summit.
6.12am- Coming back down and we get out of the clouds! We made 2 stops on the way down. The first one was still pretty foggy and as much as we waited it didn’t seem to clear up well for some good photos of the view. Our second stop was more on the eastern site (other was like northeastern side) so we were blocked from the wind and clouds at this point. The view was the most beautiful and unbelievable thing I have ever seen. We could see really far into the valley below while watching the clouds blast around the mountain on the northern and southern faces. Stunning.
7.03am- heading back down
All done. Once we got down to the bottom we could see the summit was clear (dang!) but we just figured we would have to come back another time to see the sunrise again and experience a clear summit.
After leaving Mt. Washington we…
had breakfast at Polly’s Pancake Parlor
saw family friends and enjoyed the view of Cannon Mountain
lost our minds seeing a Reliant Robin in person!!
It was such a great adventure up to Mt Washington! It was such an incredible date day. We had so much fun and got to do something that was unique. The views are really breathtaking and unforgettable. We were exhausted the rest of the day (passed out while watching the NASCAR race) and for Monday as well but it was all worth it!!
Route 16, Pinkham Notch
Gorham, New Hampshire