Today I fulfilled a bucket list item and went to the top of Mount Washington, the tallest peak in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains. It’s a fabled location, and it lived up to its billing.
You can get to the top of Mount Washington four ways: hike, take a chauffeured van, ride the cog railway, or drive your own car. We briefly considered the cog railroad, but it would have cost more than $100 for the two of us — so we drove our car up to the peak on the Mount Washington Auto Road.
What a trip! 12 percent average grade, two-lane, sharply winding road, no guard rail or even berm, and sheer drops down hundreds of feet if you blunder. I kept it in first gear and white-knuckled it all the way up and down. My teeth were clenched and my heart was hammering. This drive made the Amalfi Coast route seem like a picnic. It was a real rush.
Mount Washington is known for its freakish weather — the highest wind velocity ever recorded, more than 230 m.p.h., was measured there — and we experienced that, too. In the eight-mile drive from bottom to more than 6,000 feet up we went from sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70s to pea soup fog, rain, wind, and temperatures around 50 that seemed much colder at the summit. It felt like we were in a cloud, and we probably were.
Kish and I noted that not many things really have the “wow!” factor these days. A drive up Mount Washington does. If you like to drive and want to test your nerve, this trip is a must.