Thursday, September 18, 2008

On top of the world (almost)

When figuring what to do on a rare weekday off day, I thought it was quite logical to get up at 5:30 a.m. and travel four-plus hours to New Hampshire to visit a mountain billed as having "The Worst Weather in the World." Ahh, logic thy name is not John Banks. Or something like that.

And so I traveled north today to Bretton Woods, N.H., to visit Mount Washington.

There are three ways to get to the summit of the tallest mountain in the Northeast.

1) You can hike.

2) You can drive.

3) Or you can fork over $62 to take the Mount Washington Cog Railway.

I chose Option 3, booking my trip online for noon. I arrived at 10:40 a.m. and was eager to check out "The Worst Weather in the World", so I caught the 11 a.m. train. Had to hand over another 10 bucks to do that. (The Great Train Robbery 2. Nice.)

But the trip in the coal-powered, creaky train from another age was worth every dollar. The scenery on the way up and at the summit was spectacular. We arrived at the summit -- that's a double dose of me up there at the very top of the mountain -- about an hour or so after we left the base.

There were no trees about 5,000 feet and up (see below), so the landscape was more like a moonscape. The weather? It was pretty ugly up there. The temperature was in the low 30s (it was 48 at base) and winds were blowing about 45 mph. Not quite Hurricane Ike strength, but this is the place where winds of 200-plus mph were once recorded. A hot chocolate purchased in the visitors center was welcome.

If you are ever in New England, be sure check it out.

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