I thought my fears about Mt Washington were irrational at first till I started discussing it at the office, and all my colleagues assured me it was good to be fearful of Mt. Washington. Apparently many people drive right over the side, and its not really well known. They seemed to think it happened on a regular basis (can't remember if it was weekly or monthly)
Because the road was built prior to the switchback designs for mountain roads, the road just circles around the edges and the ascent and descent is rather quick. There are turnout places to stop and cool the breaks and tires, and we used every single one of them. Apparently the most common mistake people make is to think they don't need to stop cause everything seems fine, and burn out their breaks and/or tires so that they fail, and they drive right off the edge.
Also it is quite cold at the summit. We went up in July, and it was 70-80 degrees at the base, but at the summit it was 30 degrees and dropping. So when the participation started (yes it snowed in July on the summit of Mt. Washington) they closed the mountain and we had to drive down, part way in the snow. (this is what made me decide against haleakena,denali, etc.)
I will never drive on that mountain again. I am not even sure I like the idea of the vans. Better to wait in line for the cog railway.
There is even a weather station at the summit, and you can make reservations to stay at the their as well. I think they might even offer some weather classes as well.
The other popular NH thing to do was to walk/climb Mt. Washington. Appartently you can hike a considerable distance without climbing. And they have huts you can reserve to overnight in, for all you outdoor enthusiast. As a GemPrincess I prefer 5 star hotels with lots of service. Sleeping in a hut with rough woolen blankets has no attraction for me, not to mention having to hike uphill to get there.
Pikes Peak warns people about using their brakes as opposed to down shifting. When I drove up it, they had someone checking for heat in the tire wells on the way down. If you had a problem, they would pull you over and make you wait till the brakes cooled down. I guess since they charge a toll, they can afford to have a person check. I have driven and another time taken the cog railway. Both have advantages.
Haleakala warns people but no one checks. I have driven this road many times and have had snow some times. Mountains have a weather system of its own and can change on a dime.
To me the key is if you want to drive these, you should not be in a hurry.
We just enjoyed Mt. Washington from a distance. The road was closed because of snow! I had seen pictures of the drive and knew it would not be an enjoyable ride for us anyway.
I did not know my husband was afraid of heights until we drove up Pikes Peak. (He wasn't my husband yet. ) He said he would have gladly paid someone any amount of $$$ to drive us down. To hear him tell the story now, the road is plenty wide!
I was surprised to hear that they had started the bicycle rides down Haleakala again. We heard they had been stopped because they were so dangerous.
Yes, the bike ride down was really a lot of fun. There is only one bike outfit that did it, you cannot do it with your own bike.
I also walked down Pikes Peak on another experience and it was a LONG Day! Love Pikes Peak and MT. Washington as well!
The first picture is the start of a bike ride down Pikes Peak, the second is the start of the walk down Pikes Peak!
Both were very good experiences!
The cog train is most interesting. Our problem was it doesn't leave till Noon and got to the top at around 1:30. That was just too late to start a walk of 13 miles to the bottom. We had over two hours walking in the dark!
The next day the weather got really bad, and we were lucky we got the hike in when we did.
Would do it again!
The trip I was describing to Maui was in the 1980s and 1990s.
I also had similiar problems driving from Dener to Breckinridge. Had a conference in Denver, and so I thought I'd enjoy the weekend in Breckinridge at a friend's condo till I got on the road. It was snowing so hard I could not see where I was going, but the drop off the road to the road was so steep, and since I couldn't see, had no idea if there was a shoulder or not to pull off on. So we crept along following the tail lights of the car in front of us for hours.
Another thing I will neve do again. Even though it was the last week of April, 1st week of may, there are still blizzards.
Thanx RB for the interesting info.
Got me to thinking whether this is unusual for Mt. Washington, which is known for being very windy so I decided to check the historical records
Interestingly enough, the highest recorded winds on Mt. Washington was on April 10, 1934 with winds of 231 MPH which is the all time land surface wind record recorded by man. Australia is challenging this with Australian Tropical Cyclone Olivia in 1996 at 253 mph on Barrow Island in Australia
Contrast this with Mt Washington today which is 40 MPH, and in the last 24 hr it was 110 mph.
Or Hurricane Sandy windspeeds in NJ of 90+ MPH
Winds can be most of the year. It's not unusual to be on the summit and have them close it. I was there in July when it was 80 degrees at the base, but on the mt it was 38 degrees and falling. It started to rain, and then as the temp dropped it started to snow in mid july. They closed the mt, and we all had to head back down. So what was already treacherous based on a circular road instead of switch backs, and a steep descent, was made even more treacherous by being wet and then freezing.
My recommendation if you want to enjoy Mt. Washington, is take the cog railway so you don't need to worry about being in a vehicle on the road.
No need to visit Mt Everst, Denali, Matterhorn, etc. We have our own treacherous peak right here in NH which is a very low cost destination with nice Marriotts nearby.
See America First!
Enjoying some terrific views of my own at Marriott's Timber Lodge in Tahoe - last night would have been a good night to be at the observatory at Mt. Washington
GemP ... I've just been catching up on this posting. I can't understand why we haven't been to New Hampshire yet! It looks like you have a whole bunch of parks with some stunning walking opportunities and it looks like a fairly short drive from Boston ... an easy flight from the UK. As far as Mt Washington is concerned, I think that it will be the Cog Railway for us and, like you, we are definitely Cat 5 rather than 'hut' people. My 'must visit' list gets longer by the day!
Just a route that we sort of made up taking in sites just over the border in Vermont, Northern New Hampsire, and the Southern Maine Seacoast stopping at all our favorite places to eat like Ben & Jerry's & Cabot Creamery in Vermont, Hart's Turkey Farm in NH and Cliffhouse Sunday Brunch in Maine, and stopping along the way to shop and sightsee.
Travel reading is definately dangerous for me as I am high suggestible. Whether its a blog or book, once I have read it and liked it, I have to do it, hence the 80+ countries I visited, and many repeatedly.
Tomorrow for lunch I am having the Nassau spiced pasties.