September 9, 2018 White Mountains/Cog, NH (Day 2)

What an amazing day it was!  Last night it got down to the 40’s.  Good thing I put an extra blanket on the bed.  This morning, it was a little chilly in the trailer with just the fireplace heating us, but it didn’t take a long time to warm it up.  Our plan was to leave at 11:00 and take a slow, scenic drive to the Cog Railway for a 2:30 trip up to the top of Mt. Washington.  We had breakfast, packed a lunch, and had an easy morning until it was time to leave.  At 11:00, we hopped in Mike’s truck and began our adventure. Patti and Mike would be our tour guides for the day.  By this time, the sun was out and the temp had risen to the low 60’s.  We made a quick stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for an iced coffee for Patti and a hot chocolate for me.  
We headed up I-87 to Lincoln in the White Mountain National Forest.  

In Lincoln, we picked up the Kancamagus Highway.  It is a very scenic highway, which cuts through the middle of the White Mountains National Forest between Lincoln and Conway.  
This was a serious sign about watching out for moose along the way.
We could see the Oseola Peaks in the distance.
At the scenic overlook, we stopped to take a picture.  Some hikers, called Peak Baggers, keep a tally of the mountains over 4000 ft. high that they have scaled.  In the White Mountains of New Hampshire and Maine, there are 48 peaks.  
In some places on the road, there was a steep grade on our descent.
Our next stop was the Rocky Gorge.  It was an easy walk along the Swift River to the footbridge that spans the river.  Even Bob was able to cross the bridge without a problem.  

We took a short hike to Falls Pond–a very serene place to relax.

We walked back to the Gorge to get a closer look at the falls. I got as close as I safely could. Rocky Gorge has a 10′ drop and rapids through the Gorge.

These sheer rock cliffs were an awesome sight even from a distance!  
We passed through Crawford Notch State Park.
The train from North Conway was at the station there.
Mike pulled into the road that led to the Mt. Washington Hotel Resort so we could see it better.
The hotel was awesome looking and looked like it belonged in the Swiss Alps.  This group of horseback riders crossed the road and had just begun their ride.
We made the turn onto the road to the Cog Railway which was another 6 miles.  
From the road, we could see the track that went up the mountain.
The closer we got, the easier it was to see the train cars as they came down the mountain.  
We parked the truck, picked up our tickets, and waited at Platform C for our 2:30 trip.  The Cog Railway is the second steepest rack railway in the world.
While we waited, we could see the other train cars as they reached the station.  Three cog trains were making the 2:30 trip up the mountain and it was busy for a Sunday.  It would be the last run of the day.  The ascent would take about 45 minutes at 4.6 mph.  Mt. Washington is 6288 ft. tall. It is the tallest peak in the Presidential Range and the highest mountain in New England.
Our brakeman hollered “All aboard” and we were the first to board the train.
He was a wealth of knowledge on the hour ride up to the summit.  Patti and Mike sat in the front seat on one side of the aisle and we sat on the other.

We made our slow ascent, keeping a safe distance behind the other 2 engines that preceeded us.
The brakeman asked us to stand up and put our feet level on the floor.  This is what it looked like because of the steepness of the slope.  
One train had to pull off to the side so another car coming down the mountain could pass on the track.
This water tower holds hundreds of gallons of water for the operation of the coal-powered train’s boiler.  The train stops there to fill up with water on its run to the top.  We could see where we were going next as we watched the cars ahead of us follow the tracks.
This was the 1/2 way point at an elevation of 4500′.  
The views as we climbed higher and higher were amazing looking back into the valley.  This is called Bert’s Ravine.
This was set up to view the rock profile.  It was supposed to take the place of the rock that was famous as the Old Man on the Mountain that collapsed a few years ago.  Someone said it looked like Jay Leno who rode on the Cog Railway last year.
This was Jacob’s Ladder–the high curving trestle at an elevation of 4725′ –as we rounded the corner.
The track crosses the Appalachian Trail and we could see lots of hiker’s using that trail and others from the window of the train.  

We were told that the cairns–rock towers–were put there to help the hikers see where the trail goes when the mountain is covered in clouds or snow like it often is.  The cairns are placed along the trail and very close together.

As we neared the top, we got our first view of the Summit House–a weather station, restrooms, post office, and snack bar.
From across the valley, we saw the Wildcat Ski Area.
Finally, we made it to the top.  The second picture was taken of the 4 of us at the highest point on the summit.

It was a perfect day at the top of Mt. Washington–no wind, sunshine, and clear skies–a rare occasion at the top, but we did have a chilly temperature of 37 degrees.    
This sign was posted at the top–The highest wind ever observed by man was recorded here at 231 miles per hour.  Some of the most extreme weather occurs on the top of Mt. Washington.
We spent an hour at the top looking at all the views in every direction.  

Bob ran into a guy dressed as a Native American and asked him what he was doing.  That was a mistake as the man kept talking and talking and Bob had a hard time getting away.  He told Bob he was re-enacting some kind of ritual.  We didn’t wait to hear the whole story and moved on.

This trail from the top takes the hikers to the Lake of the Clouds Hut which serves as a hostel for hikers where they can spend the night and get dinner and breakfast.  It is part of a “hut” system throughout the White Mountains and the Appalachian Trail to provide shelter for hikers.  
The white building is the Lake of the Clouds Hut and the trail that leads to it.
After taking in all the views, we checked out the Tip Top House which was a former hotel at the summit.  It was built in 1853 and made of rock blasted from the mountain.  It was staged as it was back in the day.  
We went inside the Summit House to use the restrooms and get some hot chocolate.  We saw this sign hung inside the Summit House.  I didn’t know if they were kidding or not!
It was getting close to our departure time at 2:30, so we got in line for the last train car down the mountain.  We were boarded and left promptly.  This rocky trail ran alongside the cog railway and we saw hikers on it as we made our way down the mountain.  
The descent took us only 25 minutes at 5.5 mph and we were back at the Welcome Center.  We took some time to visit the museum before leaving.  This map showed the cog railway track and the sights that we saw while we rode the Cog.
Our drive back to the campground took about an hour and we went directly home.  We wanted to have dinner before it got dark.  Mike grilled burgers and corn for dinner.  It was delicious!
We had another campfire for about an hour after dark.

Patti got me to try a bottle of Moxie–a drink “that you either hate or love”.  I liked it, but it was even better with a little ice cream added to it.

When the fire started to die and it got colder, we all retired to our own campers.  Bob and I were able to watch the Packers vs Bears game on satellite TV.  We stayed up late until the end of the game because it was a nail-biter up to the very last few seconds.  After we won 24-23, we went right to bed.  Thanks to Patti and Mike for being such good tour guides.  It was a fabulous day with good friends!  

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