The title might say it all, a person on a mission to conquer a mountain, to seek the peak, but what you might not know is that Seek the Peak is actually an annual event run by the Mount Washington Observatory (MWOBS). This event brings in some of the nation’s most enthusiastic and supportive hikers, looking to raise funds in continued promotion of one of the nation’s leading scientific weather research Non-Profits. As an avid hiker throughout the state I thought it would be amazing to attend this event with a great organization and other like-minded individuals. Last year, I intended on hiking in the event, but due to the threat of severe weather on the summit, hiking on Saturday was discouraged and the majority of hikers did the trip on Sunday. I was not as fortunate, as I had plans that day, so my attendance at the event was strictly for the after (or before in this case) party.
One of the things that really bummed me out about missing the hike the first time around was that, it would have been (at the time) my 18th 4,000 footer, clearly showing that it would also be my first hike up to the summit of our areas tallest and strenuous peak. I did not go back on a nicer day to hike the mountain, as I still wanted my first time up to either be with the Seek the Peak group, or as my last 4k mountain in NH. Since waiting until I completed 47 other 4,000 footers, this year’s Seek the Peak event, held last Saturday, was going to be the time that I hiked up.
Mt. Washington has several routes to get to the top, including by car or train. But when it comes to the trails, they vary in steepness, and length resulting in a fluctuation in time that it could take for you to hike. I settled on the Tuckerman’s Ravine trail, since I wanted to see what the headwall was like in the summer, instead of the notorious pictures from winter, and it did not disappoint. The trails were jam packed with Seek the Peak attendees as well as your everyday good weekend weather hikers. I had never been on such a busy trail but it was fun! The grade was continuously uphill for the first 2 miles then took a turn for a steeper pitch at the base of the Ravine.
Hiking alongside the headwall is like climbing really steep stairs. When you get to the top you have to navigate over large boulders, all above the tree line, so this rock-strewed area looks like a completely different world.
The way down is exciting because I could choose a different trail, but other than an alternative view there isn’t much to say about that. However the after party where everyone is exhausted from climbing, you can eat and drink your fill while listening to amazing music and checking out some of the MWOBS corporate sponsors like EMS, Vasque, and Subaru of New England to name a few. This even is so much fun it is something that I will mark my calendar with every year. I hope that you do that same! The only thing that snaps you back to New Hampshire is cresting over the top of this trail to the summit where buildings (The Observatory, cafeteria, gift shops, post office and museum) and the large amount of cars and people all there to be on top of New England. There is enough to do at the top, and I have never stayed on the summit of a mountain long past eating lunch, so this was a treat.