Another one on the books.
This is the sixth year in a row that Beau, and now me, gathered a group to climb Mt. Washington in the winter, at night, to attempt to catch the sunrise from the summit of the most dangerous mountain on the east coast of the United States. We do this each year with individuals who have little experience and take deliberate care to ensure everyone is comfortable all the way to the summit.
Our climb this year was the first time the weather gave us a view from the top, though I hear stories of clear skies from 2011 and 2012 before I jumped on board. The hike is no less challenging, however, with the group meeting at Pinkham Notch at 3:15am. It’s not easy for your brain to be operating at that time, and this is the last opportunity to grab all the gear and food you need before hitting the dark trail, so it is a stressful moment that fortunately passes rather quickly. Part of the reason is an impatient group of people who are lucky to have gotten even an hour of sleep.
For me, it’s a major challenge to capture this experience and every year I am proud to polish my skills and share the story. Just to give you an idea, there’s an objective (getting to the summit) and doing anything that slows the pace or detracts can easily frustrate participants that haven’t slept and are focusing on a physically demanding task. Add to this freezing temperatures that cause your fingers to be numb with pain, for batteries to drain nearly instantly, and for lenses to fog up then freeze if you accidentally breathe on them or attempt to keep them warm. In addition, to get any photos that aren’t the butt of the person in front of you, or a grimace of the person behind, requires for you to jog up, down, and around; meaning that the total distance you travel is meaningfully larger.
But the fact that this is difficult is why I love it. I suffer every year and the harder the hike the more accomplished we feel and the bigger the smiles at the end. I have found through the process of pushing myself past my comfort zone that I feel fulfilled. In addition, after every challenge that feels impossible on the face, persevering through to the end is a path to personal growth and humility in the face of everything we experience in the world.
As an added bonus, this isn’t even all. This year I filmed and the images here are just a small sample of what took place. I look forward to sharing the video in the near future.
Cheers and thank you for reading!