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.
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.
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.
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)