“Good communication is essential,” Dave, our Eastern Mountain Sports guide, said. “Because gravity doesn’t care.” It was the first day of the Appalachian Mountain Club and Eastern Mountain Sports Schools’ winter mountaineering program, and we were staring up a 200-foot ice cliff near Cathedral Ledges in North Conway, New Hampshire.
Bear in mind that “spring” is a relative term. While the snowbanks have finally retreated across most of New England, an early April hike finds winter in full bloom on…
The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, accessing the summits of Mt. Monroe and Mt. Washington, is equal parts majestic beauty and watch-your-step treacherous, sheltered tranquility and boot-to-boot hiker highway, destination hike and the fastest route between Point A (ground floor) and Point B (the AMC’s Lakes of the Clouds Hut).
Hiking in northern New England is no simple walk in the park. Consider that we’re also home to some of the finest micro-breweries in the business, and one has to wonder: What’s the point of all those rugged, root-tangled miles if the calories burnt aren’t immediately replenished by a pint of ale and good old pub grub?
New Hampshire has no shortage of premier hiking destinations, and the Presidential Range from Mt. Webster to Mt. Madison holds the most prized pearls in the state’s peak-bagging sea. Eight summits on the 19-mile Presidential Traverse are on the list of 48 4,000-footers, including the top five to tickle the sky.
You can’t sleep. You toss. You turn. Visions of the “world’s worst weather” pummel the sugar plum fairies trying to dance through your head. Bitter cold. Biting winds. Fickly visibility. Winter hiking Mt. Washington—New England’s highest peak at 6,288 feet—is all fun and games with the added disclaimer of avalanche danger.