By Preston Young
A couple of weekends ago, Rachel, Mason and I took the 5-hour drive to Gorham, New Hampshire to drive up Mount Washington. This weekend trip has been at the top of our “to-do-list” for quite a while now and we are extremely happy we finally went. We even asked ourselves on our way home, “Why did we wait so long?” Mount Washington is the tallest peak east of the Mississippi and it’s been a popular tourist destination for more than a century as they have figured out numerous ways to bring people to the top including train, tour vans/cars, and even a snow cat. We took our own car; it was a beautiful drive with amazing colors of New Hampshire’s mountains and the feathery clouds blowing past us as we drove more than 6,000 feet in the air.
On our drive to New Hampshire, we followed the Connecticut River for hours. The scenery this time of year is beautiful and what was interesting to see was how different the landscape is in Connecticut compared to New Hampshire. We made the most of our drive, pulling over alongside the highway to look at the views, stopping at a dog-friendly restaurant, and even stopping for a picture of Mason in front of a “Mason Rd” street sign. Our hotel was located at the bottom of the mountain so the views were incredible. The hotel was dog friendly which is why Mason got to come with us, making it his first vacation!
Surprisingly, the auto road first opened in 1861 and it is also the site of the oldest auto race in the United States – the Mount Washington Hillclimb Auto Race that was first hosted in 1904. As we drove up the road at 20mph, I can only imagine the experience of racing up the mountain in a vintage automobile. As we climbed the mountain, there were some extremely tight spots with sheer drops on the outside with no shoulders! No guard rails, barriers, nothing!
Our drive up the mountain was nothing short of stunning. It is an 8-mile drive, with plenty of pull off areas to get out and take pictures. During one of our pull offs at about the 4-mile mark, the wind was incredibly strong. This is when I realized I don’t think I dressed appropriately as I needed to turn on the heat when I got back in the car. As we kept driving up, the views got prettier, and the road got narrower. I couldn’t believe how narrow the roads were. There were times when cars were coming down the road and I would have to veer right so we could both fit! After about 40 minutes, we were finally at the top of Mount Washington.
Unknown to us, there was a parking lot at the top with about 6 flights of stairs that led to a viewing platform. There were multiple signs to take pictures with and a gift shop. Next to the gift shop was a thermometer. I made sure to make note of the temperature outside at the bottom of the mountain, which was 75 degrees. The thermometer up at the top of the mountain read 35 degrees with 75 mph winds! I recently wrote a newsletter talking about my experience skydiving and the wind at the top of the mountain felt similar to my skydiving adventure as crazy as that sounds.
Mount Washington was a much-needed getaway that we were able to check off our bucket list and receive the famous ‘This Car Climbed Mt. Washington’ bumper sticker.