Huntington Ravine; DUN DUN DUN!

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair."

I have finally hiked the one trail on Mount Washington I have been avoiding for a long time. Huntington Ravine. This trail, according to the AMC White Mountain Guide is the "Hardest trail in the White Mountains." Many, claim it to be incredibly difficult, dangerous, and essentially rock climbing without the ropes.

The Mount Washington Observatory hosts their largest fundraiser in July every year for the last 15 years. This even is a hike-a-thon to raise money for the nonprofit, member supported MWOBS. I have participated in this event my first year working for them and now I am participating again this year. On July 18th, Trish, myself, Alex, Sage, Hugh, Josh, John, and Jeremy decided as a team we wanted to ascend Huntington Ravine for Seek the Peak. Most of us had yet to hike this trail and were all ready to see what the big talk was all about.

Last Thursday, Trish and I made plans to hike the trail before the actual day of. We both wanted to scope out what it was we were not only getting ourselves into, but also her girls. She mostly wanted to make sure the girls were capable of hiking this trail, and scope out possible places she may need to spot them while doing so. The girls were away with their father, so it was just Trish and I.

We met at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center just before 6:00am. We planned for an early start and took our time. We hit the trail and were chatting and catching up since the last time we hiked together. Before we knew it the first 1.3 miles to the Huntington Ravine Junction was right there. We took a sip of water, took a right onto the start of the trail of Tuckerman Ravine Trail, and continued onward. With a few beautiful water crossing we were moving at a good pace. From here the trail is a gradual ascent upwards for the next .5 mile until we met with Raymond path. We stopped here to asses our direction, and decided that if it were possible toward the end of the day we would redline Raymond Path on our way out. Continuing about the next mile or so, it flattens out a bit as you start to enter into the bottom of the ravine. A little over grown in some spots, but that's usually a good sign that  not many hikers will be on this trail. I enjoy that.


We finally entered into the bottom of the boulder field. We had to maneuver around, beneath, and above boulders as big as a tiny house. This section was bad at all and the trail was easy to follow. We started to make our way up to the Fan, breaking through some brush and then some basic climbing over rocks. Eventually, we made it to the bottom of the Fan. Here we stopped at some snacks rehydrated and discussed things like, how there was plenty of water on trail and we could bring filters next week so our packs would be much lighter and mostly about how cool the view was.

We took a look at what the trail looked like ahead of us. A little intimidating, but not what I thought it was going to. I assure you, the photos make it look way steeper than it actually was in person. Trish and I packed up our stuff and started for the Headwall. We knew there was about 3 sections in total that most say are the hardest of the entire trail. The first part is a large slab of rock. The trail is marked by yellow trail markers, stay to the right of them. Trish led the way, and followed the crack in the rocks right up. A little bit up this section, we paused to rethink our hand and foot placements, mostly because there just wasn't a good comfortable hand placement to grab onto. In time, and trying many different options, Trish made it passed and then I followed in her lead.

Once this 10 feet of slab section was done, it heads to the right and flattens a little bit following a nice foot path to the second section. The second section consisted of just a lot of hand and foot climbs. I found this very similar to Flume Slide with a mix of North Tripyramid Slide and Trish mentioned similar to Caps Ridge Trail. We breezed through the second section with out any questions of where to put our hands and feet or without fear of falling. Again, this section wasn't that long either. Before we knew it we were at the last section before topping out. The Chimney. This is what most claim to be the most difficult section on the entire trail. Let's just say, I asked Trish at the top if we had already done the Chimney and if I missed it? We both chuckled and assumed the section we just passed was that of the Chimney. Right before ascending the Chimney was another go around we had to stop and assess. It was a matter of hoping your shoes had great grip and basically hugging a boulder as you wrapped yourself around it to get to the next part. In time again we figured it out, and it wasn't too bad.

The trail  markers towards the Chimney were a bit confusing in a couple spots. For example you came around a bend at one point and you saw no markers, but we later realized it was because it was on top of a rock that was above us. You would notice it going down, just not up. We made all mental notes of these small things in preparation for next week. I even managed to do a headstand right before heading up the Chimney- You're welcome John, and thanks for the reminder!

All in all, Huntington Ravine Trail was not the hardest trail or scariest one I have hiked in the Whites or overall. If you hiked the Chimney down of Pamola Peak on Katahdin and across Knifes Edge, you can do this trail no problem. If you are a beginner, and are not in the best physical condition, and are afraid of heights I would highly recommend avoiding this trail. Also, I do also agree that if this trail is very wet, avoid it at all costs and going down is definitely managed but not for those who I believe are inexperienced and exhausted. Just opt out for another beautiful trail down. Mostly, also because there is not much room for passing on this trail either.

Once we topped out, I gave Trish a high five! That was incredible. Such a great feeling of accomplishment. Here we checked out the map and this is where our leisurely day began. We both agreed we had no real reason to hit the summit, since we had both been there a million and one times and will be going next week. So, we both agreed to do some red- lining. Red-lining for those of you who don't know is another list but it's a list to hike all of the trail in the AMC White Mountain Guide Book. We headed up to the Nelson Crag trail .2 miles, then down towards Nelson Crag .3 miles and then back towards where we started on the Alpine Garden Trail another .2 miles. We made a small triangular loop just to get some small sections we both needed and on easy terrain.

From here we trekked leisurely across the gorgeous Alpine Garden Trail .9 of a mile until we hit the first junction. Here is where we checked the time and were trying to figure out if we would have time for all of the red lines the two of us needed. We trekked another .3 miles to the Headwall Junction of Tuckerman Ravine Trail. Here we could hear lots of yelling. A group of teens lost one of their friends. We chatted with them to try and help, and eventually just advised them to just go to the top see if their friend was up there and let the Rangers know he is missing if not. Up hill another 2 tenths of a mile to the Lawn Cutoff and here we took a left and headed .4 towards Boot Spur and Davis Path.

Once at the Junction of Davis Path Trish offered to sit and eat a snack while I dropped my pack and trail ran across the Camel Trail, then to the Tuckerman Crossover trail and back up to Davis Path. I took a whistle she lent me because mine was on my pack and I went for it. 1.7 miles I ran in 30 minutes exactly. Wow, I think I kind of like trail running, oh no wait- only without my pack. haha Once back at the junction Trish and I hit the trail and headed towards Boots Spur Trail .6 miles in we reached the Boot Spur Trail, then another .7 to Boot Spur Link. Our original plan was to hit Alpine Garden and Boot Spur Link. However, we had the time and decided to hit a lot more than that.

Boot Spur Trail, is not enjoyable for me going down. It is somewhat steep and has poor footing in my opinion. My knees started to ache coming down this section. As far as the Link, most also say this is a very steep trail. I didn't find it as steep as I was expecting, but also it had great footing which in turn I think made going down it much easier than I was expecting. After another .6 miles down the Link we arrived at Hermit Lake Shelter. We used the restrooms and made our last and finally decision for the day. We checked time and distance to hit Raymond Path and Old Jackson Road. We thought we could make it back to the car in time so we went for it. Roughly .4 miles on Tuckerman Ravine Trail until we hit Raymond Path, took a left and traversed across this trail for the next 2.4 miles until we would hit Old Jackson Road.

Raymond Path was beautiful and gradual with a few PUD's but nothing that wasn't manageable. With a couple water crossings and one having probably on of the best swimming holes in the Whites at it, we stopped to take a few photos. Footing was much nicer than that of the above tree line rock hop. Not many rocks or roots to be weary of which was nice. We finally ran into a family heading up Raymond Path in the opposite direction of us and thought, we must be getting closer to the OJR.

Finally reaching the junction we took a right onto OJR and took a nice easy, again flatish walk out and back to the car. OJR was in great shape and is part of the Appalachian Trail, so again easy on the feet. We ran into some trail crew of which Trish thanked them kindly for all their hard work! They seemed very appreciative of that. I know we are for all their hard work. 1.6 miles later we finally came out at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. What an amazing day it was. We were back at the car an hour before we planned and had put in some good miles, as well as red-penciled in some of our lines on our maps!
All in all, it was a great day weather and company wise! I am looking forward to hiking with Trish again next weekend for Seek the Peak. As well as with the girls and all the others who are a part of our group! There is nothing better than getting to try new things and explore with fun, energetic people who share the same passions as you. Also, I have just a small portion of the Great Gulf Trail to finish and after that will have hiked all trails leading from the base of Mount Washington to the Summit directly! Such a huge accomplishment I have been working on for a couple years now. Yes, I have yet to finish my 48, but I have explored these woods and places most others have yet to get to.

If you would like to make a donation to our Seek the Peak Team Fundraising Page, feel free to do so at the link below: There is 5 days left to make a tax-deductible donation to the Mount Washington Observatory.

The Huntington Hopeful's Team Page

As of the next day, my arms and shoulders were quite sore from the climbing in Huntington's, but I can't wait to get back out there. I even took a stroll out on the Paddleboard to strengthen my arms a little bit more before next week.

 (note: Photos of myself on Huntington Ravine Trail, all credit go to Trish)


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